Turning pro

Arizona freshman basketball guard Jerryd Bayless has announced he will forego his remaining collegiate eligibility and begin preparations for the June NBA Draft.

"I've thought carefully about my options since the end of the season, discussed it with my parents and others who could give me appropriate guidance, and made this decision with a clear mind. I'm going to turn professional. It's the right time for me to move on," Bayless said. "I appreciate the opportunity I had to be part of the Arizona basketball team this year."

Arizona coach Lute Olson said, "I'm disappointed because I didn't have one year to work with him, to coach him. Jerryd's going to be a great player in the NBA. He's an unbelievable kid with great character, and he's a great competitor.

"I wish him nothing but the best of luck and I know he will represent the University of Arizona and the state of Arizona very well in the future," Olson said.

Bayless, a 6-foot-3, 199-pound guard was a third team All-America selection by rivals.com and a fourth-team pick by collegehoops.net. That marked the third such honor for the freshman from Phoenix, Ariz., as he was voted a second-team All-American by Sports Illustrated earlier this month.

He averaged 19.7 points, 2.7 rebounds and 4.0 assists per game in 30 appearances. Bayless shot 45.8 percent (173-of-378) from the field and a team-leading 83.9 percent (187-of-223) from the free throw line. He finished in double figures 27 times this year, including 12 20-point and four 30-point games.

No freshman in Arizona history has ever scored as many points in a season as Bayless' 592. Additionally, he became the first player in Arizona history to score 30 or more points in three consecutive games when he accomplished the feat Feb. 10-16.

Bayless is the 22nd player in Arizona history to earn All-America honors, and the first freshman since Jason Gardner in 2000.

He joins a list of 10 other Wildcats to declare early for the NBA Draft during the Lute Olson era: Brian Williams (1991), Mike Bibby (1998), Gilbert Arenas (2001), Jason Gardner (2001), Richard Jefferson (2001), Michael Wright (2001), Andre Iguodala (2004), Chris Rodgers (2005) and Mustafa Shakur (2006), and Marcus Williams (2007). Of that list, only Gardner, Rodgers and Shakur returned to school and completed their eligibility.

The 2008 NBA Draft is scheduled for Thursday, June 26, at Madison Square Garden in New York City.

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