Maybe it was only a matter of time once he sank that final shot against Arizona, but now, it’s official: Sam Dekker will not play his senior year at Wisconsin.
Dekker will forego his final season of college eligibility and enter the 2015 NBA Draft. The junior forward made the announcement Friday morning through his Twitter account and a statement from the UW Athletic Department.
“After lots of thoughts and prayers, I’ve decided that it is in my best interest to enter the NBA Draft at this time,” Dekker said in the statement. “It is difficult to leave Madison and the only state I’ve called home, but I’m excited for the next chapter of my life.”
The Sheboygan native will leave as one of the better players in the history of the program, a long, athletic wing capable of both effectively driving to the basket and shooting from the floor. He is one of 41 1,000-point scorers in UW history and will be long remembered for his performance in the 2015 NCAA Tournament.
Dekker averaged 19.2 points per game in six games during March Madness, highlighted by a destruction of Arizona in the Elite Eight with 27 points on 11 shots.
“The privilege of playing in front of a sold out Kohl Center or looking around at the sea of red that filled Lucas Oil Stadium last weekend are things that most college basketball players never get to experience and I never took that for granted. Badger fans are the greatest in the world,” Dekker said in the statement.
Of course, Dekker disappointed in the tournament final against Duke, managing only 12 points on 6-of-15 shooting, including 0-of-6 from 3-point range. After the game, the emotional Dekker was visibly heartbroken and wouldn’t commit to a draft decision yet.
The 6-foot-9 forward is currently projected between the No. 12 and 15 spots in mock drafts from ESPN, DraftExpress and nbadraft.net. Dekker’s strong shooting performance in the tournament, even in spite of his weak performance against Duke, caused him to shoot up draft boards.
If he develops into a reliable NBA shooter, his natural athleticism and discipline developed at Wisconsin could afford him one of the highest professional ceilings of any past UW player.
“I will continue to represent the University of Wisconsin to the best of my ability wherever my future takes me,” Dekker said in the statement. “I will never forget these years as a Badger, not just for the basketball victories, but for the friends made, lessons learned and the memories that will last a lifetime.”
Dekker will enter the draft with graduating teammate Frank Kaminsky and, together, they could be the first pair of UW players drafted in head coach Bo Ryan’s career, the first at UW since 1995 and the first pair of first rounders in UW’s entire history.