K.J. McDaniels to enter NBA draft

COLUMBIA, S.C. -- Clemson junior K.J. McDaniels is leaving school for the NBA draft.

McDaniels, who led the Tigers in points, rebounds, blocks and steals this past season, announced his departure on Tuesday.

In several mock drafts, the 6-foot-6 forward is projected as a middle-to-late selection in the first round.

"I'm thankful for the opportunity these past three seasons to grow as a player and person at Clemson," McDaniels said in a statement by the school. "None of this would've been possible without the guidance and support of my coaches, teammates and family."

McDaniels, who also led the Tigers in 3-pointers last season, earned Atlantic Coast Conference defensive player of the year honors. He twice scored 30 points in a game this season and averaged 17.1 points in 36 contests. With 100 blocks, he joined former Tiger greats Tree Rollins and Sharone Wright with most in a season.

"This was not an easy decision, but I am excited to take the next step toward fulfilling my lifelong dream of playing in the NBA," he said.

McDaniels blossomed this season with his soaring dunks and rising blocks from behind on surprised opponents.

"I'm sure some of the teams that don't play him as often, you're surprised because all of a sudden you think you've got a layup and he comes over and pins it on the glass," Clemson coach Brad Brownell said after an NIT victory Georgia State. "I've seen a lot of it."

On Tuesday, Brownell thanked McDaniels for what he'd done for the program.

"He has had a tremendous impact on our program and improved as much as any player I've ever coached," Brownell said. "I'm extremely proud of his development and excited for his future at the next level."

McDaniels, from Birmingham, Ala., was a driving force behind a defense that ranked No. 1 in the NCAA in defending 3-pointers (.285), No. 5 in opponent points per game (58.4) and No. 8 in blocks (6.1). He led all ACC players with six games of at least 20 points and 10 rebounds, and he posted 13 total 20-point games after entering his junior season without one in 58 career outings.