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Butler's Gordon Hayward to Test NBA Draft Waters

Apr 14, 2010 – 5:02 PM
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FanHouse Newswire

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INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- Butler forward Gordon Hayward (right) is going to enter the NBA draft but will not sign with an agent, allowing him to return to school if he withdraws his name by May 8.

The school confirmed the decision Wednesday afternoon.

The 6-foot-9 sophomore is expected to become the first Butler player taken in the first round, possibly in the top 15.

A native of Brownsburg, Ind., Hayward led the Bulldogs with 15.5 points per game and into the national championship game. He was the Horizon League player of the year and Most Outstanding Player of the West Regional, and along the way his draft stock soared.

The Bulldogs lost to Duke 61-59 in the title game after Hayward missed two potential go-ahead baskets in the closing seconds.

"I have decided to declare for this June's NBA draft," Hayward said in a statement released by the school. "At the present time, I have not signed with an agent. I'm looking forward to further exploring my options in the NBA, while finishing this semester strongly in the classroom."

Hayward was seen smiling inside the basketball office Wednesday afternoon as he chatted with two of his teammates-outgoing seniors Avery Jukes and Willie Veasley-before the decision was announced. Jukes and Veasley were scheduled to play briefly with the Washington Generals in a Wednesday night game at Conseco Fieldhouse against the Harlem Globetrotters.

Hayward is considered a small forward with point-guard skills, a combination that made him a matchup problem for most college teams. At Butler, Hayward handled the ball, shot 3-pointers and became even more adept at driving past bigger defenders who struggled against Hayward's smooth moves and uncanny body control around the basket.

His versatility was one of the primary reasons Butler reached the Final Four for the first time.

Butler coach Brad Stevens sounded as collected about the decision as he had throughout the Bulldogs' improbable tourney run.

"We'll support him as we gather additional information," Stevens said, one week after signing a 12-year deal to stay at Butler.

Stevens' decision left only one lingering question for the Bulldogs: Would Hayward return?

He still could, and if Hayward pulls out of the draft, Butler will have four of its five starters back. Some believe that could put the Bulldogs among the top five in the preseason poll.

Without him, Butler will still have 2008 Horizon League player of the year Matt Howard and both guards, Ronald Nored and Shelvin Mack, back in the lineup. Nored was chosen the league's co-defensive player of the year this season.

And an NBA team will have a new millionaire cornerstone for the future.

The announcement came on the same day two other players from Indiana, Purdue center JaJuan Johnson and Purdue guard E'Twaun Moore, announced they will enter the draft but will not sign with an agent, either.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Filed under: Sports