Villanueva, a 6-foot-11, 240-pound forward, returned home to New York City over the Easter weekend and talked about the decision with his family. Villanueva felt strong about his decision after having several conversations with Head Coach Calhoun and was seeking his family's blessing over the weekend.
"I was not going to make any decision what so ever without talking it over first with Coach [Jim Calhoun], I have tons of respect for the man and I value his thoughts," Villanueva said. "I knew what I felt in my heart was right, but I just needed to talk it over with Coach and my family".
Calhoun and Villanueva met twice last week and again yesterday afternoon and it was expected that Calhoun would give his blessing for the early departure. Villanueva, who is projected to be a mid-to-late first-round selection, will join Caron Butler as the only UConn players to leave for the NBA after their sophomore seasons; coincidently, they both wore jersey number #3.
Villanueva led the Huskies in scoring this season, averaging 13.6 points. He got better as the season progressed; in the last 10 games he averaged 18.2 ppg and increased his rebound average from 8.3 to 9.7. Villanueva lead the Big East Conference in rebounding (9.0). He is an All-BIG EAST and NABC All-District Second Team pick and is also an honorable mention AP All-American.
UConn finished its season 23-8 after being eliminated by North Carolina State in the second round of the NCAA tournament March 20. Villanueva started in all 31 games as a sophomore; he played in 32 games during the Huskies' national championship season in 2003-04.
The draft will be held on Tuesday, June 28 at Madison Square Garden in New York City.