Ricky Rubio, the Spanish point guard sensation that has been compared to everyone from Pete Maravich to Steve Nash will declare for the 2009 NBA draft, his agent, Dan Fegan, told ESPN.com from Barcelona Monday afternoon.
Rubio will have until June 15 to withdraw his name from the draft. However, his agent sounded confident that he's staying in.
"Ricky will be in the 2009 draft," Fegan said. Fegan has been in Barcelona this week meeting with Rubio and his family trying to come to a decision.
Rubio is the starting point guard for DKV Joventut in Spain and is widely considered the best young international player in the world.
The 6-foot-4, 180-pound point guard from Barcelona has been a starter in the best basketball league in Europe since the age of 16. He made himself into an international phenomenon with his strong performance for Spain in the Olympics. Rubio more than held his own playing against NBA point guards like Chris Paul and Jason Kidd. This season he's averaging 10 points per game and six assists per game in the Spanish League in about 22 minutes per game.
Rubio has been the consensus No. 2 pick on the ESPN.com Top 100 for the entire year. While scouts say that he needs to get stronger and work on his jump shot, the consensus is that he's got the talent to be a star.
"He's special," one NBA GM told ESPN.com. "There aren't many kids you'll find at his age with such a terrific feel for the game. He just knows how to play. When he gets out there with players 10 years older than him, he just looks like he belongs. He'll have some adjusting to do in the NBA, but the truth is, he's as NBA ready as most of the college kids that are coming out. He's playing on a very big world stage."
Rubio's decision to enter the draft comes after months of speculation that he might return to his DKV Joventut for one more year. For Rubio to leave for the NBA, he's going to have to pay Joventut a huge buyout to be released from his contract there. NBA teams are limited to paying just $500,000 toward an international player's buyout by the collective bargaining agreement. That means if Rubio wants to play in the NBA, he's going to have to pay some of the buyout out of his own pocket.
Most likely, Rubio and Joventut come to some sort of compromise. If Joventut doesn't make it to the Spanish League Finals this year, most likely they won't be in the Euroleague next year. That puts more financial pressure on Joventut to come up with some sort of compromise that gives them financial relief from a buyout and allows Rubio to pursue his dream of playing in the NBA.
Chad Ford covers the NBA for ESPN Insider.