A formal announcement isn’t expected from UConn until Friday and, like teammate Jeremy Lamb, who entered the draft earlier this week, there won’t be a press conference. But word trickled out Thursday that Drummond had finally made his decision.
In many ways, the news came as no surprise. Drummond, 18, was a highly pursued recruit at St. Thomas More last season and when he finally committed to UConn last August it was practically a given that he would wear the Huskies uniform just one season. But his inconsistent performance during a disappointing UConn season – and the fact he seemed to enjoy being a student on the campus close to his Middletown home – prompted Drummond to say several times that he planned on returning.
That might have been the plan. But with every mock draft including Drummond among the top five prospects in this years draft, it would have been a poor choice for him to reject a guaranteed contract worth as much as $7 million to return to Storrs and risk injury – or a drop in his stock.
And the fact that UConn almost certainly will be ineligible for the 2013 postseason – including the Big East tournament and the NCAA Tournament – because of past poor academic performances undoubtedly had to contribute to Drummond’s decision.
Drummond started at center and averaged 10.2 points and 7.6 rebounds. He made his biggest impact on defense as a shot-blocker, but NBA teams saw enough of Drummond to know they aren’t sure exactly what they are getting – other than a young player with an NBA body (6-10, 270 pounds) and tremendous potential.
Drummond and Lamb join Alex Oriakhi to make three starters departing the UConn roster early. Oriakhi, who cited the postseason ban as a reason for his transfer, was expected to begin a visit to the Missouri campus in Columbia, Mo., Thursday night. He is also considering Kentucky, North Carolina and Xavier.
Tyler Olander and Roscoe Smith, both rising juniors, will now be the key returnees to UConn’s front line. Little used Enosch Wolf and Michael Bradley, who has never played, are also expected to return. Olander would be UConn’s top returning rebounder. He averaged 3.9 rebounds last season.