Hamilton walks away

Tigers center will pursue a pro career, forego senior season.

LSU center Justin Hamilton announced Thursday that he will leave school following the end of the spring semester to pursue a professional basketball career.

The 7-foot, 260-pound Hamilton spent two years with the Tigers after transferring following his sophomore year at Iowa State. Hamilton practiced with LSU during his transfer season of 2010-11 and was a starter from the first game last season, earning second-team All-SEC honors by the league coaches.

A native of Alpine, Utah, Hamilton played in all 33 games last season and started 32. He led the Tigers with 12.9 points, 7.2 rebounds and 1.4 blocks per game, while averaging 30 minutes a game. He had 25 games in double figures with four double-doubles, highlighted by a 27-point performance at Florida and 23 points and 16 rebounds against Ole Miss.

"I would like to announce that I am leaving LSU for the NBA draft," Hamilton said in a statement released by the media relations department. "I would like to thank my coaches, the administration and all the teachers that have helped me along the way. They have all provided me with a great experience at LSU. I will graduate next month and I am getting married this summer. I am ready to take the next step in my life. Again, I would like to thank everyone that has helped me along the way and especially the fans here at LSU."

The 22-year-old Hamilton will graduate with a degree in sociology.

"Justin Hamilton has done a good job for the LSU basketball program," Tigers coach Trent Johnson said in the LSU statement. "His development from the time he arrived prior to the 2010-11 season has been very impressive. During this process, our responsibility as a basketball staff was to make sure we educated Justin and his family of the many challenges that will lie in front of him. He will graduate from LSU this semester and will have his degree in hand. I and the members of our program wish him nothing but the best in his future."

Hamilton finished 14th in the SEC in scoring, ninth in rebounding, eighth in free-throw percentage (78.1%, 107-137); ninth in blocked shots (1.3 bpg); and, second in offensive rebounds (3.3 rpg).

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