UConn's DeAndre Daniels to enter NBA Draft; Ryan Boatright returning to school

By By Dom Amore

The Hartford Courant (MCT)

Published: Saturday, April 26 2014 4:00 p.m. MDT

It was decision day at UConn, regarding the NBA draft. The Huskies got some good news on Friday, and some bad news.

DeAndre Daniels, who played the best basketball of his career during UConn’s run to the national championship, had decided to leave college on that highest of notes. Rather than stay for his senior season, Daniels will enter the NBA draft, as first reported by Yahoo! Sports and later confirmed by Daniels on Twitter.

“I just felt like this was the right time for me,” Daniels said in a statement later released by the school. “I sat down with my family and we discussed it and everyone agreed, but the final decision was still mine and it was hard. I had a great career at UConn and I wouldn’t change it for the world, and to go out on top like we did makes it even better.”

However, the good news for UConn fans: Ryan Boatright will return for his senior season, UConn announced.

So Daniels and senior Shabazz Napier are UConn’s players to watch as the June 26 draft. Napier’s stock appears to be rising and he could picked by the middle of the first round.

The 6-foot-9, 195-pound Daniels’ stock probably rose, too, during the NCAA Tournament, maybe to first-round caliber. He averaged 16.7 points and 7.2 rebounds during the six games, shooting 48 percent from the floor, and much of it was against top competition. He had 20 points and 10 rebounds against Florida, the overall No.1 seed, in the Huskies’ 63-53 win in the semifinals. Overall he shot 46.9 percent from the floor and 78.7 from the free throw line. He was second on the team in rebounds with 228, trailing only Napier (234), a 6-1 guard. Daniels averaged 6.0 rebounds.

“DeAndre has made an enormous contribution to the success we have enjoyed at UConn, both on the court and in the classroom,” UConn coach Kevin Ollie said. “Besides being an outstanding basketball player, he is a quality young man. We wholeheartedly support the decision he has made and wish him nothing but success as he moves ahead with his basketball career. He will always be part of our UConn family.”

Daniels, a sociology major, intends to finish his studies and earn his degree during the summers, UConn said. It is important for UConn’s Academics Progress Rate score that Daniels complete the spring semester satisfactorily.

He has long been considered the best long-term NBA prospect at UConn, but his thin build and inconsistency, and occasional lapses into passive play, led to mixed reviews among industry sources about where he might go in the draft. Scouts and analysts who have spoken to The Courant in recent weeks have indicated Daniels, 22, will likely be drafted, though it might be early-to-mid second round.

Daniels played 99 games at UConn, starting 80, averaging 23.8 minutes, 9.6 points and 4.6 rebounds. He finished strong in both his sophomore and junior seasons but never became the consistent double-digit rebounder the Huskies’ envisioned. He was at his best when playing angry, aggressively.

Boatright, 6-0, 168, also a junior, considered the professional market each of the past two years. Boatright made a strong impression with his defense in the NCAA Tournament. A year at point guard, running the team without Napier, could benefit Boatright, 21. It will be his team now.

“I couldn’t be happier that Ryan will be back with us next season,” Ollie said. “Not only for his terrific basketball talents, but to provide tremendous senior leadership for us, both on and off the court. The growth and maturity he has shown throughout his career has been wonderful and I expect that to continue as he works toward his degree.”

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