Thursday, September 21

Holiday plans to enter NBA draft

Freshman guard announces decision, saying he won't hire an agent so option of returning is open

Dressed in a black hat and gray sweatshirt with the UCLA logo on each, freshman guard Jrue Holiday announced a decision he admitted he made just a day before: he is putting his name in the NBA Draft.

Holiday announced Thursday afternoon that he was declaring for the NBA Draft in June without hiring an agent, giving him the option of withdrawing and returning to UCLA next season.

Sitting between his coach Ben Howland and his father, Shawn, Holiday said that he felt he was ready to test the waters and see where he stands.

“I’m still keeping my options open,” Holiday said. “I’m staying in school, I’m still going to be passing all my classes ““ just keep my options open and see what’s going to happen.”

Howland expressed his support of the decision, saying he believes that Holiday will be drafted in the first round on June 25.

“I just want to say that we as a university, and as his head coach here at UCLA, are 100 percent behind Jrue,” Howland said. “He had a great freshman year for us. Obviously when he has the ball more in his hands, it’s even going to be better for him. I think that he’s clearly a first-round draft pick in the NBA this year, so he’s got a win-win situation. We’re excited for him, excited for his family, and they’re proud of him.”

After talking to several general managers in the NBA, Howland said he has received a lot of positive feedback that predicts Holiday going anywhere from 10th overall to 25th overall.

“He is going to be an NBA player, no question about it,” Howland said.

Holiday will take part in the camp for players who have put their names into the draft in Chicago at the end of May, as well as workouts for various teams.

Throughout the press conference, Holiday emphasized that a decision to go to the NBA is not a foregone conclusion and that it was always in the plans not to hire an agent. He is simply electing to see where he stands among the other potential draft picks.

“I love my teammates and I love it here,” Holiday said. “Again it’s not for sure that I’m going to go to the NBA. I’m not going to get an agent, I’m not signing with one. I just really want to see what’s going to happen when I go into the draft or go to all these camps and play for these teams.”

He added that being a lottery pick is a goal, and that once information regarding his lottery status comes out he will sit down and discuss it with his family.

During his freshman year, Holiday started every game for the Bruins as shooting guard, averaging 8.5 points, 3.8 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 1.6 steals per game. Howland said that Holiday’s biggest strengths are when he has the ball in his hands running the offense.

“As he is able to get into that role when he has the ball more and more, he’s just going to shine more and more,” Howland said.

Coming to UCLA as the 2008 Gatorade Player of the Year, an award given to the nation’s top high school player, there were some who expected Holiday to stay just one season at UCLA. Yet both he and his father maintain that the thought of going to the NBA never came up during the season and that it was a recent decision.

Shawn Holiday expressed his support of the decision his son was making.

“If you have the possibility of being a lottery pick, why not try it?” he said. “You go to school to get a good job, and if you have an opportunity to do what you want to do right now, at least try it.”

In his year with Howland and the Bruins, Holiday said he realized his ability to play solid defense. But he added one other thing he learned ““ something intangible.

“Just to expect that I’m going to win, all the time,” Holiday said. “Because (Howland) doesn’t expect anything less of us and I don’t expect less of myself.”

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