PULLMAN – In a move that surprised no one, Washington State University junior Klay Thompson announced Monday he has submitted his name for the 2011 NBA draft.
“I’ve had a great time at this institution (but) I think I’m ready to play at the next level,” Thompson said in a news conference.
By not signing with an agent, Thompson could pull his name from the June 23 draft by May 8 and still return for his senior year, but his comments Monday made it clear that’s remote.
“I wouldn’t say (it’s) 99 percent but I would say I’m leaning toward leaving,” he said.
By declaring, the 6-foot-6 Thompson has made himself eligible to work out with NBA teams starting April 28. With only a 10-day workout window before the NCAA-imposed withdrawal deadline, Thompson doesn’t expect to showcase himself to more than a couple teams.
“It hampers it a little bit,” he said. “Ten days, everyone knows that’s a pretty short window. That just makes the (final) decision that much tougher.
“After the first couple workouts I’ll be able to go to, I’ll have to make a decision pretty quick after that.”
But he thinks that should be enough.
“I just want to be drafted in a good situation,” Thompson said. “If I feel comfortable with the right team and I feel like my game is ready, and I feel like I can compete, that’s all I need.”
Thompson’s father, Mychal, who was the first pick in the 1978 NBA draft and had a long pro career, will serve as Klay’s advisor through the process. The Los Angeles Lakers color announcer recently visited Pullman to discuss Klay’s plans, though the younger Thompson said that was the extent of it.
“He helped me with the decision,” Klay said, “but this was my decision.”
Thompson joins 39 other underclassmen who had declared for the draft as of Monday, including teammate DeAngelo Casto, a junior who announced his intention to enter the draft Friday, and five other Pac-10 players.
Throughout the season, the question of whether Thompson would declare for the draft hung over nearly every interview, but he said it didn’t affect his play.
“I didn’t really think about it a lot until the end of the season,” Thompson said. “I think I made the right choice. I just went with my heart, really.”
And he said debating the pros and cons following the season weren’t all that difficult either.
“Not really, because the NBA has been my dream,” he said. “Playing at the highest level with the best competition, I just get chills thinking about it. I thought I was in a good situation, so I jumped at the opportunity that was presented.
“I think you have just got to do what’s best for yourself.”
Thompson led the Pac-10 in scoring this last season, averaging 21.6 points a game, 11th-best in the nation. His 733 points were a school record. If he doesn’t return, he will leave WSU third all-time in career scoring with 1,756 points.
He was stopped by Pullman Police following WSU’s home win over USC on March 3 and was cited for misdemeanor possession of marijuana, less than 40 ounces. He was suspended for a crucial Pac-10 game against UCLA that Saturday, but apologized to the Beasley Coliseum crowd for the mistake prior to the tip.
The citation is sure to be a topic of NBA interest, Thompson admitted.
“I think it (hurt) at the time, but I think I’ve shown maturity since that incident,” Thompson said. “I’ll have to answer those questions when I go to the workouts. They’ll question my character, but I’ll be ready for it.”