Cunningham says he's leaving for NBA Draft

JARED CUNNINGHAM

HAD HE DECIDED to return, the Beavers would have had all five starters back next season and in seemingly good position to make a run at the Big Dance. But it was not to be, as Jared Cunningham declared Monday his intention to leave Oregon State a year early and enter the NBA Draft.

"This was a very difficult decision," Cunningham said. "But I felt like I had to do what was best for me and my future. My dream has always been to play in the NBA and I'm ready to pursue that dream...I will be declaring for the draft this coming summer.. It just came down to what's the best fit for me and my future."

The general thinking in the media and by those in who cover the draft, though, is that Cunningham might not get drafted. The NBA holds a two round draft, and only first rounders have rookie contracts that are guaranteed.

Working against him, this year's NBA draft is considered to be one of the deeper in recent memory.

One Pac-12 beat writer, the Seattle Times' Percy, wondered last month if Cunningham would be the 2012 version of Stanford's Jeremy Green, a first team All Pac-12 pick in 2010-11 who surprised many by leaving early but ended up going undrafted. Green is now with the Erie BayHawks, in the NBA's D-League, (the NBA's official minor league basketball organization) after the Los Angeles D-Fenders waived him back on Jan. 27.

Several mock drafts have Cunningham as either a late second round pick or an undrafted free agent.

Chad Ford of ESPN.com rates Cunningham No. 96 in his top 100 of 2012 NBA prospects.

Cunningham leaves the Beavers ranked 13th on the school's career scoring list with 1,271 points and second in steals with 219. he led the conference for much of the year in scoring before finishing second at 17.9 ppg. The NBA Draft is June 28.

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