|STORRS, Conn. -- Khalid El-Amin has played his last game in a University of Connecticut uniform.
UConn's junior point guard announced Friday at a Gampel Pavilion news conference that he will forego his senior year and enter the NBA draft. On Thursday, the Connecticut coaching staff had confirmed reports of El-Amin's departure to ESPN.com's Andy Katz.
"I'm a 20-year-old man and I have to take care of my
responsibilities," he said Friday. "The time is right for me to
meet the next challenge and play basketball at its highest level."
He and his wife have a 1-year-old son. He also has a 3-year-old
son from a previous relationship.
El-Amin, who is from Minneapolis, went home last weekend to discuss with his family whether to go pro or stay at UConn.
"Last year's national championship was truly a dream come true,"
El-Amin said Friday. "The appreciation I have received from the
Connecticut fans can never be duplicated. The experience has
made this decision to move to the next level so much harder."
El-Amin led the Huskies with 16 points and 5.2 assists per game this season. He helped lead UConn to a national championship in 1999.
El-Amin said he thought about leaving college all season but did
not come to a decision until last week after consulting with his
family. His older brother, Makram, said Khalid didn't feel
"He talked about the kind of life he wanted to provide for his
family," Makram El-Amin said.
Coach Jim Calhoun said he has spoken with a number of NBA teams and is
confident his point guard will be drafted in the first round.
"He has an incredibly competitive heart," Calhoun said. "I am
supremely confident in his ability to play in the NBA."
El-Amin figured prominently in the three most successful years
in UConn history. The Huskies were 91-17 with El-Amin at the point
and became the first school to win back-to-back Big East
regular-season and tournament championships in 1998 and '99.
The Huskies won the 1999 title, beating Duke 77-74 in St.
Petersburg, Fla. Calhoun said El-Amin was the first player to
embrace him after that win.
"He's an incredible kid who came here and led us to the
greatest three years in the history of the school," Calhoun said.
"He's the greatest winner I've ever been involved with."
Underclassmen have until May 14 to declare for the June 28 draft. El-Amin is the eighth underclassman to declare himself eligible for the draft.
The 5-foot-10, 200-pound El-Amin -- a first-team Big East selection and Associated Press honorable mention All-American -- is being projected as a late first-round or early second-round choice, several NBA scouts told ESPN.com.
He leaves Connecticut as the school's eighth-leading scorer with
1,650 points. El-Amin averaged a team-high 16 points, 5.2
assists and 1.7 steals this past season, but struggled at times
as the Huskies finished 25-10 and could not live up to
expectations as the defending national champions.
Khalid El-Amin remained a fan favorite throughout his three
years. A few days after the 1999 national title game, he was
charged for misdemeanor possession of marijuana. He was ordered to
perform community service, which included talking to
schoolchildren. A parade held for the national champions, shortly
after the arrest, drew more than 250,000 fans. The most vocal were
"They say college is the best four years of your life. This has
been the best three years of my life," El-Amin said. "The
appreciation I have received from the Connecticut fans can never be
El-Amin's collegiate career ended in disappointing fashion as he
a suffered sprained left ankle and limped through the Huskies'
65-51 loss to Tennessee in the second round of the NCAA
Tournament. He scored only three points and was forced to the
bench with 12:30 remaining.
"The Connecticut experience has helped me develop as a better player and person,
and I know that experience can only help me next year," El-Amin said.
Now Calhoun must try to replace El-Amin. He can look to freshman
Tony Robertson and recruit Taliek Brown.
"I can guarantee we are going to have a terrific point guard,"
Calhoun said. "But we're not going to have another Khalid
|Khalid El-Amin will take his game to the pros.
Early-entry candidates for NBA draft
Khalid El-Amin says it's time for him to leave.
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