Weber State's Damian Lillard going pro after dominating Big Sky

Published: Tuesday, April 3 2012 11:00 p.m. MDT

Lillard graciously thanked the crowd that came out for Tuesday's announcement, and he also thanked the Ogden community for accepting and embracing him since he came to Weber State four years ago. Now just a couple of classes short of getting his degree, he expressed gratitude to his teammates and coaches for helping him get to this point in his life — especially after he suffered a broken foot in December of 2010, which wiped out the rest of that season and left him feeling somewhat unsure of his future.

He was granted a medical hardship by the NCAA and was allowed a "do-over" for his junior season, and he responded by turning in one of the greatest individual seasons in Weber State or Big Sky history.

In 2011-12, Lillard averaged 24.5 points per game in leading the Wildcats to a 25-7 overall record. He led the nation in scoring for much of the season and wound up second in the country, and his 784 points and scoring average established new single-season school records. He ranks second on Weber State's career scoring list with 1,934 points — only Bruce Collins scored more — and ranks first or second in the Wildcats' all-time record book in several other statistical categories.

He was named to the Associated Press and the National Association of Basketball Coaches All-America third teams, becoming the first player in Big Sky history to be be so honored, and was also a finalist for the prestigious annual John Wooden, Bob Cousy and Oscar Robertson awards.

Lillard has set his sights mighty high as he enters the next phase of his basketball career.

"I want to be Rookie of the Year," he said. "Some people might say I'm crazy, but that's just something that I've set out for myself. I don't want to just make it to the NBA ... I want to play in the NBA and I want to make something of myself. I don't just want to get there because a lot of people do that and then they just fade away after two or three years. But I want to be Rookie of the Year and I want to be there on All-Star Weekend one day, and that's just what I've set out to do."

The Utah Jazz have shown plenty of interest in Lillard, as scouts and front-office personnel have attended several of the Wildcats' games this season.

And although Lillard said his hometown Golden State Warriors are his favorite NBA team, he certainly wouldn't mind suiting up for the Jazz next season if they call his name on draft night.

"I think it would be cool to stay here and be where I've been for the last four years," he said. "Then I'll be able to be around this program, which wouldn't be bad at all, and I think there would be a lot of people that are fans of Weber State or fans of mine that would support me with the Jazz, and that'd be cool. ... I'd be more than happy to play for them."

email: rhollis@desnews.com

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