FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. -- Ronnie Brewer spent three years
helping Arkansas rebuild its basketball program, leading his
hometown college back to the NCAA tournament.
Now, he's ready to show off for the pros.
Brewer said Thursday he would make himself available for the NBA
draft, although he can still return to the Razorbacks because he
has not hired an agent. The 6-foot-7 junior had until Saturday to
declare for the June 28 draft. The deadline to withdraw is June 18.
"I just want to work hard and just test the market to see where
I can go," Brewer said in a news conference at Bud Walton Arena.
Brewer grew up in Fayetteville. His father, Ron Brewer, helped
Arkansas to the 1978 Final Four. The elder Brewer was drafted
seventh overall by Portland in 1978.
Ronnie Brewer averaged 18.4 points per game last season, leading
Arkansas to its first NCAA tournament appearance since 2001. The
Razorbacks lost to Bucknell 59-55 in the first round.
Coach Stan Heath said he supports Brewer's decision -- entering
the draft without an agent enables a player to withdraw if he
changes his mind.
"It probably is a very smart thing for him to do. He definitely
wants to play in the NBA, he knows that's a big part of his
future," Heath said. "The rule was specifically made for guys
like him -- guys who really are considered in that realm of
first-round draft pick, somewhere ... who knows? With that, Ronnie
is going to make sure that he doesn't do anything to jeopardize his
Brewer said he will continue training with the Razorbacks while
arranging to work out for NBA teams. He was asked how highly he'd
have to be regarded to stay in the draft.
"If they were talking late first round, I don't think
necessarily it would be worth it to keep my name in there and I
would probably come back," Brewer said.
Brewer arrived at Arkansas in 2003-04, Heath's second season.
The Razorbacks had gone 9-19 in 2002-03.
They went 12-16 when Brewer was a freshman before improving to
18-12 in 2004-05 and 22-10 last season. Brewer was a first-team
All-Southeastern Conference selection as a junior and perhaps the
league's most versatile player -- capable of playing on the wing or
at point guard.
He averaged an SEC-best 2.59 steals per game.
If Brewer stays in the draft, Arkansas will have lost its top
two scorers. Senior Jonathon Modica averaged 16.1 points per game
"If he's here, we're going to be very good," Heath said. "If
he's not here, I know I've got some guys here that wouldn't mind
shooting the ball a little bit extra."
Several of Brewer's teammates were at the news conference.
Sophomore Charles Thomas, third on the team with 9.7 points per
game last season, said he understands Brewer's decision.
"When you have people in your ear telling you that you're an
early first-rounder, why not?" Thomas said.
Ron Brewer said he hopes his son embraces the challenge.
"I'm very proud of him, where he is right now. I think he
deserves it," Ron Brewer said. "I think he needs to go out there
with all the gusto and go for his best shot."
He also praised his son's modesty, saying Ronnie might not
realize how much potential he has.
"What he doesn't understand is, he's a very talented young
man," Ron Brewer said. "He's so humble that he doesn't realize
what his upside is. He's pretty good."
Ronnie Brewer is 16th on Arkansas' career scoring list with
1,416 points. Ron Brewer is 15th with 1,440. The younger Brewer
said he wouldn't mind leaving without passing his father.
"We can't play one-on-one anymore because he's kind of old now,
so that really doesn't bother me," Ronnie joked.
Like any prominent program, Arkansas is no stranger to the NBA's
lure. Joe Johnson turned pro in 2001 after his sophomore season,
and prized recruit Al Jefferson went to the NBA in 2004 without
ever playing a game for the Razorbacks.
Olu Famutimi left in 2005 after his sophomore season and played
for the Arkansas RimRockers of the NBA Development League this
Brewer says he still plans to pursue his degree -- and he has no
preference as to which NBA team he ends up with.
"The NBA's the NBA," he said.