AUSTIN, Texas -- By the look of his Texas tank top and
shorts, Kevin Durant might have fooled someone into thinking he'd
changed his mind. Was it a hint he might stay in college?
No chance. The kid is leaving for the NBA.
Durant, an 18-year-old freshman and The Associated Press Player
of the Year, said Tuesday he will leave the Longhorns to enter the
June draft, bringing a quick end to what was a short but
spectacular college career.
Durant does, however, plan on finishing the spring semester rather than withdrawing from the university, ESPN.com's Andy Katz reports.
"I just thought it was time to go," Durant said at a news
conference to announce his decision. "It's been my dream for a
while. I felt I was ready."
After an All-American season in which he swept the major player
of the year awards, few expected Durant to stay at Texas.
Now the question is whether he'll be the first player drafted.
Durant and Ohio State's freshman center Greg Oden -- who has not yet
said if he'll leave college -- are considered the likely first two
"I know I'll be one of the higher picks. It doesn't really
matter if I go one or two as long as I go," Durant said.
Durant's parents, Wayne and Wanda Pratt, said his year in
college was invaluable.
"The University of Texas has been very good to him," Wayne
Pratt said. "He's matured a lot."
So much so that the player whose diet often consisted of too
much candy, who was so down humble he'd keep stats at team
managers' pickup games, said he's ready to matchup up with Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan and the rest of the NBA's best.
"You trying to scare me?" Durant said. "It will be a
challenge ... I don't want to be just a player in the NBA. I want
to have an impact."
Durant's attire at his news conference suggests he never wants
to leave the basketball court.
Announcing a pro career sure to bring millions of dollars in
playing and endorsement contracts might call for a new suit or at
least a shower.
Instead, Durant's skinny arms poked out of his practice uniform
as he sipped on a sports drink. He looked somewhat eager to get
back on the court for a pickup game with his teammates when he was
done answering questions.
"I'm still a part of this team," Durant said.
"I'm proud of him," point guard D.J. Augustin said. "I saw
what he was going through. I know it was a tough decision."
Durant was one of the country's most heralded recruits when he
arrived on campus. An NBA rule change required players to be 19 and
out of high school for a year before they could enter the draft.
Durant was a dominant force in college from the start.
The Big 12 player and freshman of the year, He averaged 25.8
points and 11.1 rebounds -- one of three players in the country to
average more than 20 points and 10 rebounds.
He shot 47 percent from the field, 40 percent from 3-point range
and 82 percent from the foul line. He led the Longhorns in steals
and blocked shots and scored at least 30 points a Big 12-record 11
He led Texas, which started four freshmen, to a third-place
finish in the Big 12 and to the second round of the NCAA
Tournament, where the Longhorns lost to Southern California. The
Longhorns finished 25-10.
"What he has accomplished this year has never been done,"
coach Rick Barnes said. "Everybody goes to college to better
themselves. Very few get to see their dreams come so early in
Durant made his decision last weekend when he was in Los Angeles
to receive John R. Wooden Award. Although word leaked out Monday
night, Durant said he didn't tell his coach or his teammates until
He didn't really think about the magnitude of it all until he
had a quiet moment by himself in his room.
"I just started smiling," Durant said. "It's been my dream
since I was young."
Information from The Associated Press contributed to this story.