J'Covan Brown to enter draft

AUSTIN, Texas -- Texas Longhorns guard J'Covan Brown is ready to take the biggest shot of his young life. He's opted to forgo his senior season and enter the NBA draft.

"There were a lot of reasons to come back to school next year, most importantly getting my degree and being around my teammates every day," Brown said in a statement released by the university. "But the time has come for me to pursue a career in professional basketball and take care of my daughter, Jordyn. This has been a difficult decision, but it is the best decision for myself and my family."

Most NBA draft analysts have Brown projected as a late second-round pick or a free-agent pickup. ESPN NBA Insider Chad Ford rates Brown 91st among ranked prospects coming out of college. The NBA draft is only two rounds.

His standing has not swayed Brown, who has seen this early entry path trod by many players during his time at Texas.

In fact, even before his time, Texas had built a reputation as a program where players have left for the professional ranks early. Since 2006, nine Longhorns have left early and Brown would be the 10th. There was some thought that point guard Myck Kabongo might make it 11, but the freshman elected to stay for his sophomore season.

Brown's departure comes on the heels of three early entries in the 2011 offseason -- Tristan Thompson, Jordan Hamilton and Cory Joseph. Their departures left Texas without much experience, leaving the onus on Brown to deliver.

The junior, who also is a member of the Big 12 all-academic team, did just that. In his first year as a full-time starter Brown became the Big 12's leading scorer with 20.1 points per game. But he shot just 42 percent from the floor and struggled in his decision-making ability at the end of close games.

Still, he was a proven scorer who could carry the team at times and who had the ability to get to the rim to get his shot off by utilizing spin moves and the like. Whether or not that game translates to the NBA presents a big question.

"We respect his decision and understand his need to provide for his daughter," Texas coach Rick Barnes said.

For Barnes, now that he has lost out on his re-recruitment of Brown, the attention will turn to making sure 6-foot-10 Cameron Ridley (Fort Bend, Texas/Bush) signs on April 10 as he has told HornsNation he intends to do. Ridley is a top 10-prospect and will be paired with Javan Felix, a 5-11 point guard from St. Augustine High in New Orleans, as major contributors in 2012-13.

Texas, which has only six players in the program -- all of which are sophomores -- at the moment -- also is involved in the recruitment of 6-foot-7 swingman Devonta Pollard (DeKalb, Miss./Kemper). Pollard, the 32nd-rated recruit in ESPN's Top 100, is deciding between Georgetown, Mississippi State, Missouri and Texas.

Carter Strickland covers University of Texas sports for HornsNation.