Source: Washington Returning to Arkansas

FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas' basketball program hasn't had many reasons to smile the past few months. But coach John Pelphrey and the Razorbacks got a big dose of good news Tuesday.

Forward Michael Washington has decided to withdraw from the 2009 NBA Draft and return to the Razorbacks for his senior season, according to a source.

Washington's decision came nearly a month after he entered the draft without hiring an agent. The 6-foot-9 junior, who was projected as a second-round pick according to some mock drafts, led Arkansas in scoring (15.5) and rebounding (9.8) last season.

So Mike DeCourcy, a college basketball columnist and senior writer for The Sporting News, said it was a good move for both parties.

"There's no question that Michael would not have been a first-round pick," DeCourcy said. "And probably not likely to be a pick at all. ... This was essential for Arkansas. To make progress from where they were a year ago you have to have guys come back who are not NBA ready. You have to have those guys back in the fold."

Arkansas associate media relations director Robby Edwards said the school could not confirm that Washington had withdrawn his name from the draft list Tuesday. Underclassmen who enter the draft must file paperwork before June 15 to be removed from consideration. Washington could not be reached for comment.

But his decision boosts Arkansas' frontcourt after freshmen forwards Brandon Moore and Andre Clark announced they were transferring this spring. Arkansas should have more depth to surround Washington and sophomore Michael Sanchez next season after signing forwards Delvon Johnson, Glenn Bryant, Anthony Borden and Marshawn Powell in its 2009 class.

Washington's return to Arkansas could also be classified as another big offseason victory for the SEC. He becomes the third conference post player to return to school in the past few days.

Kentucky's Patrick Patterson, who was considered a first-round pick, withdrew his name from the NBA Draft to return to the Wildcats last week. Mississippi State center Jarvis Varnado announced his intention to return to the Bulldogs on Monday.

"Getting Patrick and Jarvis and Michael back is huge for the league," DeCourcy said. "I think that that happening gives the league a chance to get off the deck next year and be back to where we customarily expect them to be."

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