MADISON – With his draft stock having never been higher, junior forward Sam Dekker is going to try to cash in, announcing Friday that he will forego his final season of eligibility at the University of Wisconsin and enter the 2015 NBA Draft.Dekker joins Devin Harris (2004) as the only two players to declare for the draft following their junior year in Bo Ryan’s 14 season.
“These past three years have been the best, most memorable years of my life,” Dekker said in a statement. “Growing up in the state and being able to wear Wisconsin across my chest has been a dream come true.
“After lots of thoughts and prayers, I've decided that it is in my best interest to enter the NBA Draft at this time. It is difficult to leave Madison and the only state I’ve called home, but I’m excited for the next chapter of my life.”A native of Sheboygan, Wisconsin, Dekker appeared in 113 games with 81 starts in his career at UW, finishing 15th in school history with 1,363 points. Combined with his 569 career rebounds, Dekker became just the eighth Badger to tally 1,000 points and 500 rebounds in his first three seasons. Dekker averaged 13.9 points and 5.5 rebounds per game in 2014-15, helping lead the Badgers to a school-record 36 wins, Big Ten regular season and tournament championships and the 2015 national championship game. Wisconsin likely doesn’t make the championship game without Dekker elevating his game in the postseason. The 2015 West Regional Most Outstanding Player, Dekker tallied 19.2 points and 5.5 rebounds per game while shooting a team-high 57.1 percent from the field and 41.7 percent from 3-point range during the NCAA tournament. A second-team All-Big Ten selection and finalist for the Julius Erving Award, Dekker reached double-figure scoring in 27 of the final 31 games of the season, including 23 and 27 points in back-to-back NCAA tournament wins over North Carolina and Arizona. “I truly can't say thank you enough to my teammates, coaches, training staff and the fans, for everything they’ve done,” Dekker said. “I am so grateful for the opportunities Coach Ryan and UW-Madison have given me. I couldn’t have asked for anything more from my experience.”
Dekker’s departure means Ryan and his staff not only have to replace consensus national player of the year Frank Kaminsky, who led the Badgers in virtually every category, but four of the five starters from its season-opening lineup and five of the seven players who played in Monday’s national championship game.
In all, Wisconsin has to replace 65.7 percent of its scoring, 60.1 percent rebounding, 59.5 percent assists, 70.1 percent blocks and 63.8 percent steals from this season. Ryan has never finished lower than fourth in the Big Ten and has never missed a NCAA tournament during his UW tenure.
Wisconsin now has two projected scholarships for the 2016 recruiting class. Former walk-on Jordan Smith is the only senior on next year’s roster.
Both Dekker and Kaminsky are expected to be mid-first round picks in the NBA Draft, which will take place on June 25th at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.