Budinger back

University of Arizona men's basketball player Chase Budinger announced that he will return to the program for his junior season in 2008-09. Budinger made himself available for the National Basketball Association draft on April 8, but was eligible to return to college without losing eligibility by not signing with an agent and maintaining his coursework.

"Over the last several weeks I have experienced the NBA draft process, attended several workouts with a variety of NBA clubs and received much positive feedback from those teams, however, it is my decision to return to the University of Arizona," said Budinger. "The opportunity to play again for Coach Olson in my mind best prepares me to have a successful NBA career. I want to enter the NBA with great certainty of my future potential and believe the chance to develop further under Coach Olson enhances that opportunity. I want to thank the NBA and the clubs for their time and feedback and look forward to another exciting season as an Arizona Wildcat."

Budinger, a 6-foot-7, 208-pound sophomore forward from Encinitas, Calif., earned second-team all-District 15 honors from the National Association of Basketball Coaches and third-team all-Pacific-10 Conference kudos after averaging 17.1 points, 5.4 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game in 34 appearances this season. Budinger shot 44.6 percent (204-of-457) from the field and led the team with 73 three-point field goals (.380 percentage) and 1,200 minutes played. He posted a team-leading 29 double-figure scoring games in 2007-08 and registered one double-double.

He posted season bests in nearly every statistical category as a sophomore, including field goals (204), field goal attempts (457), three-point field goals, three-point field goal attempts (192), free throws (102), free throw attempts (142), rebounds (184), assists (99), steals (38), points scored (583) and scoring average.

In two seasons at Arizona, Budinger averaged 16.4 points, 5.6 rebounds and 2.5 assists in 65 career games (all starts). He connected in 46.3 percent of his field goal attempts in those two seasons, including 37.5 percent from three-point range. Budinger became the 42nd player in Arizona history to score 1,000 career points on March 6, and was just the sixth sophomore to accomplish the feat.

"I'm thrilled that Chase has decided to come back," said Olson. "Selfishly, I feel the decision is in Chase's best interest. I feel that in a year he will be a top-10 pick. With guards like Nic (Wise) and Brandon (Jennings), he'll have two great passers getting him the ball. Our style of play next year will be much more conducive to Chase having a great year, much like he did when he was the Pac-10 Freshman of the Year in 2007."

Budinger was one of 12 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), Mustafa Shakur (2006), Marcus Williams (2007) and Jerryd Bayless (2008). Of that list, only Gardner, Rodgers, Shakur and Budinger returned to school and completed their eligibility.

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