Cats' Young to enter NBA Draft

Kentucky's James Young made it official on Thursday. The freshman wing will be leaving the Wildcats for early entry to the NBA Draft.

James Young's career at Kentucky has come to an end.

The freshman wing from Michigan announced Thursday what many had speculated since the Wildcats' season ended: he'll declare for the NBA Draft .

"My time at Kentucky has been special to me, something I'll always treasure, but I feel that I'm ready to take the next step to the NBA," Young said in a statement released by UK. "I've learned more this year, on and off the court, about life from Coach Cal and the staff and appreciate all of their guidance and support.

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"I can't say enough about my teammates. The journey helped us build a bond that we will always share for the rest of our lives. I would like to thank the best fans in the country, the Big Blue Nation, and I hope you guys will continue to support me as I move on. I will always bleed blue. Succeed and Proceed!"

The 6-foot-7 Young averaged 14.3 points and 4.3 rebounds as a freshman. He made a team-high 82 3-pointers, the seventh-highest single-season figure in program history and the most ever by a UK freshman. His numbers improved in the postseason, where he averaged 18.5 points, 6.0 rebounds and shot 42.6 percent from behind the arc en route to Final Four All-Tournament Team honors.

In its latest draft analysis, ESPN projects Young as the No. 17 prospect available this year, just on the fringe of the lottery. In an early mock draft last month, Chad Ford had Young tabbed No. 9 to the Cleveland Cavaliers.

"I'm excited for James and his family and the decision he's come to," UK coach John Calipari said. "From day one, the NBA people who came to our practices in the preseason raved about him. He's done everything we've asked of him all season, investing himself in his brothers for the betterment of the team, and I think we all saw the end result in the tournament and Final Four.

"Whatever team drafts James is not only getting a superb athlete, they are getting the ultimate teammate."

Kentucky is still awaiting word on several other players who have been considering early entry to the draft, including Andrew Harrison, Aaron Harrison, Julius Randle, Dakari Johnson and Alex Poythress.

Earlier this week, sophomore center Willie Cauley-Stein announced that he'll return to the Cats for another season.

Players must declare by April 27. The NBA Draft lottery is scheduled for May 20 with the draft on June 26.

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