"I've consulted with my family and trusted advisors and I feel comfortable with the feedback I have received regarding my draft status," Rondo said. "I want to thank coach Smith, the UK staff and my teammates for all the support I've been given both on and off the court. Coach Smith has given me tough love, which I believe has made me a stronger ball player and a better person."
As for as the NBA, Rondo said he believes he can compete for a strong position in the first round. He fully acknowledged he has a lot of work to do.
Smith said they don't want to see Rajon leave but he understands this has been a dream of his. "We're confident he will be successful at the next level," Tubby said. "I don't think I've coached a better athlete or a more talented basketball player in my entire life. So I can just tell you he's going to be sorely missed."
The coach said Rondo knows what he needs to get better at and he understands that. Smith said he thinks he will go very high – "I think he will be one of the top players picked," Smith said. "Rondo is one of the top guards in the country given the things he had to do for us and he did them. We asked a lot of him on the court."
Rondo said he checked with coach Steve Smith, the Oak Hill Academy head coach and several trusted friends Rondo has in the NBA who did the checking on his draft status for him.
Rondo said he made the decision last week before Smith left for the Final Four. "We really felt like that at this time Rajon's stock is pretty high and that's what you have to weigh," Smith said. Smith said the ruling governing high school prospects entering the NBA draft weighed into the decision, but he did not believe any guard at his position would affect him anyway.
Rondo's leaving and his possible subsequent success is a win-win for all concerned. Even though Smith lamented his leaving he acknowledged having this on his resume when going out on the recruiting trail has to be a plus to sell recruits.
For various and sundry reasons, Rondo had fallen into disfavor with many fans. To this writer and others, such syndrome is a conundrum. In reading the tea leaves, it's hard to see him regaining a tolerable level of comfort. So for him, perhaps it's better that he seek other options. Rondo explained the tough love coming from coach Smith saying he stayed on him and "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger."
Rondo said the summer he had with the USA Team put his stock up high and he feel the little things he did this season keep his stock up. What does the NBA like about Rondo? "My defense, my up tempo the way I play, my ball pressure on defense, and the leadership on the court," Rondo replied. Coach Smith saw Rondo as especially attractive to the NBA, and explained, "Him be given the green light more, the two man game that you can play, the rules will be more conducive to Rondo's assets – his speed, his athleticism, his vision being able to see people, take people off the dribble, guarding people, these are the things I know he will be able to do at the next level. He's an intelligent player because sometimes he can see things out on the court I can't see and call plays."
A proud Doug Bibby, former head coach at Louisville Eastern High School openly glowed regarding Rondo's decision. Is it like a father nurturing a son to this point? "Nah, his mom was the mother and father," Bibby explained. "She just made him listen to me, if it wasn't for his mother he probably wouldn't have listened to me. I just played my part and his mom made him pay attention and be very respectful and we just grew that relationship."
So, goodbye and good luck to Rondo and all concerned. It appears to be a win-win for all.