Thompson outlines why he declared for draft

KLAY THOMPSON

WASHINGTON STATE JUNIOR Klay Thompson spoke about the university in the past tense during his Monday afternoon teleconference outlining his decision to declare for the NBA draft. Thompson will not immediately hire an agent and did not rule out the possibility of returning to Pullman for his senior season, but said he is leaning toward playing professionally next season.

"Playing at the highest level against the best competition -- I just get chills thinking about it," Thompson said.

He will only have until May 8 to determine whether to return for his senior year. Thompson, who averaged 21.6 points per game to lead the Cougars to a 22-13 record this season, said the undetermined number of workouts with NBA teams will enable him to determine his future. He said he will be able to start workouts on April 28.

Thompson said a significant factor in his decision will be whether he is assessed as a first-round pick. If Thompson is projected to be among the draft's top 30 picks, he said it would be difficult to pass on a guaranteed contract. Second-round picks do not receive the same three-year guaranteed contract, though. But Thompson does not see himself falling that far in the draft.

"I'll be surprised just because I feel I have the ability to be (a first-round pick)," he said.

Thompson, who said he will need about 24 credits to complete his degree in communication after this semester, said he "would not have any problem" returning if his draft evaluation is less than he expects.

He likely would shatter guard Isaac Fontaine's school record of 2,003 points if he returns in addition to becoming one of the top 10 most prolific scorers in conference history. But Thompson, who has 1,756 career points, said that was not a significant factor in his decision.

Thompson said not qualifying for the NCAA Tournament in three seasons was "tough," but he felt he accomplished a lot this season individually and as a team after advancing to the National Invitational Tournament's semifinals.

ONE NOTABLE SETBACK came in early March when Thompson was cited for marijuana possession. He was suspended for the March 5 game against UCLA -- a 58-54 overtime loss. A win against the Bruins might have resulted in the Cougars advancing to the NCAA Tournament.

"I think it (hurt my draft stock) at the time, but I think I've shown maturity since that incident," Thompson said. "I'll have to answer that question during workouts."

Thompson, who believes he needs to get stronger and more explosive to be successful in the NBA, said both his father -- former NBA center Mychal Thompson -- and WSU coach Ken Bone were supportive in his decision to enter the draft. The younger Thompson said he already made up his mind on declaring for the draft when his father visited Pullman last week.

"Coach Bone just told me to do what I felt was right," Thompson said. "He knew I had a lot of support and knowledge from my dad. He thought I was ready and my stock was at a good point."

Bone said the prospect on losing the conference's top scorer is difficult, but added that it also helps the program from a recruiting standpoint.

NOTABLE NOTES:
  • Even with the potential departure of Thompson in addition to junior center DeAngelo Casto, who announced last week that he would play professionally and not return next season, the Cougars still have 14 scholarships allotted for next season -- one more than the NCAA limit. Bone was out recruiting Monday (for 2012) and said he had finished interviews with most of the team. He said Casto was the only one who indicated he would not return for next season.

  • Because of the scholarship crunch, Bone said he would not add to the 2011 class that includes Curtis High School guard DaVonté Lacy, forward Greg Sequele from California and 6-foot-9 junior-college transfer D.J. Shelton. Bone said Brock Motum, Charlie Enquist and Shelton would be the mostly likely candidates to see increased playing time with Casto's departure. He said Motum probably will see most of the playing time at center even though he is not a traditional back-to-the-basket post player.

  • Bone reiterated that the coaching staff has prepared for Thompson's departure. When they thought Thompson might leave after the 2009-10 season, they added junior-college transfer Faisal Aden. Bone also pointed out Mike Ladd, (who transferred from Fresno State to WSU last season and is now eligible to play in 2011-12), in that regard.
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