Illinois junior center Pruitt enters name in draft

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- Illinois center Shaun Pruitt, a third-team All-Big Ten pick last season as a junior, has submitted his name for the NBA draft.

The 6-foot-10, 245-pound Pruitt has not hired an agent, meaning he could return for his senior season.

"I feel I've established myself as one of the top big men in the Big Ten and I want to evaluate my ability to compete at the next level," Pruitt said Wednesday in a news release.

Last season Pruitt averaged 11.4 points -- second on the Illini behind Warren Carter's 13.7 -- and a team-leading 7.5 rebounds, which was third in the conference.

Pruitt was one of the few, perhaps the only, returnee from the Illini, who went 23-12, to be virtually guaranteed a starting role next season.

Illinois coach Bruce Weber said he supports Pruitt's decision.

"This is a chance for Shaun to prove himself this spring, as well as continue to improve his game by undergoing a rigorous workout schedule," Weber said. "If he does return to our program next season, he will be a better player by having gone through this process."

Pruitt said he is a few credits shy of his degree in speech communications and plans to take classes this summer.

He has until June 18 to withdraw from the June 28 draft and retain his college eligibility.