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Sports >  Gonzaga basketball

Zags’ Daye to take a peek at NBA

Retains option to return to GU by not hiring agent

Gonzaga University forward Austin Daye will submit his name for the NBA draft, but doesn’t plan on hiring an agent.

By not hiring an agent, the sophomore forward retains the option of withdrawing from the draft and returning to Gonzaga for his junior season. Ex-Bulldog Jeremy Pargo declared for the draft on the same date exactly one year ago. Pargo went through the pre-draft process before opting to return to Gonzaga for his senior season.

Daye made his decision official in a Gonzaga news release Wednesday afternoon.

“Basically I want to test the waters to see what my future might entail,” Daye said. “I definitely had to sit down and talk to my family about my decision. If a great opportunity presents itself I might have to lead that path.

“I will go home right after the end of the school year and work out with a personal trainer on my physical body and basketball skills. I’ll be doing a variety of things to get ready for the tryouts with NBA teams.”

Daye averaged 12.7 points and a team-leading 6.8 rebounds as a sophomore. He made 47.7 percent of his shots, 42.9 percent of 3-pointers, and blocked a Gonzaga single-season record 70 shots. He was honorable mention All-West Coast Conference. He had a career-high 28 points against Santa Clara in the WCC tournament semifinals and scored 10 points in each of Gonzaga’s three NCAA tournament games.

As a freshman, Daye averaged 10.5 points and 4.7 rebounds while blocking 54 shots. He was named to the WCC All-Freshman team.

Daye huddled with his family at his grandparents’ home in Las Vegas last weekend and met with Gonzaga coaches earlier this week before announcing his decision.

“Obviously, we’d like to see Austin in a Gonzaga uniform next year. He’s a great individual and someone we enjoy having in our program. I don’t begrudge anybody taking a look at their future,” Bulldogs head coach Mark Few said. “I’m confident when the time comes Austin will make an informed, educated decision about what is best for his immediate basketball future.”

Daye, the son of former UCLA and NBA player Darren Daye, is an intriguing prospect. At 6-foot-11 and 200 pounds, Daye is a capable ball-handler with shooting range beyond the 3-point arc, but scouts have questioned his ability to defend NBA forwards.

“The (GU) coaches said don’t leave,” Daye joked. “Seriously, they have been supportive and I appreciate their support. They understand my situation. I have to make sure I make the right choice and I think I have. Testing the waters won’t be too bad, especially since I’m not going to sign with an agent. The best opportunity will present itself later and I’ll have to make that choice when it comes also.”

Daye is projected as a first-round pick in two of a sampling of eight on-line mock drafts. Draftexpress.com projects Daye to go to Oklahoma City late in the first round while realgm.com has Daye going to Detroit with the 15th pick overall. Six other mock drafts didn’t have Daye listed in the first or second round.

According to realgm.com, Daye’s “lack of athleticism and slow physical maturity will hurt him in the NBA initially and (that) is why he should stay at Gonzaga for his junior season, but he has all of the natural skills and instincts to become everything Jared Jeffries couldn’t at the next level. He has an excellent inside/outside game, both in the post and shooting off the dribble.”

Jeffries, 6-11 and 211 pounds, is a seventh-year pro who left Indiana after his sophomore season. He’s a part-time starter for the New York Knicks.

The deadline for players to withdraw their names from the NBA draft is June 15, 10 days before the two-round draft in New York. More than 30 underclassmen have declared for the draft.

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