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April 7, 2008

Gordon declares for draft without agent

INDIANAPOLIS Indiana freshman Eric Gordon is entering the NBA draft.

He said he has not signed with an agent, giving him a chance to withdraw before the draft.

The move was expected long before Gordon made the announcement Monday. When he signed with the Hoosiers, many people predicted the 6-foot-4 guard with the nifty moves and NBA 3-point range would go straight to the league after one college season. He's projected as a top-10 pick in the June draft.

"I'm doing this to compete at the highest level, not for the fame or the money," Gordon said during a news conference. "I just had a couple of weeks to really think about this after the season, and now is the right time to do it."

Gordon, a third-team All-American, is the first member of the heralded 2008 freshman class to forgo his remaining eligibility. Those who have not yet announced whether they will turn pro include centers Michael Beasley of Kansas State and Kevin Love of UCLA, both first-team All-Americans; Memphis guard Derrick Rose, a third-team All-American; and guard O.J. Mayo of USC, who received honorable mention on the All-American list.

Gordon led the Big Ten in scoring (20.9 points), set school and Big Ten freshman scoring records with 669 points, and made the third most free throws by a Hoosier in a single season (231). He also tied Mike Woodson's school record for most 30-point games by a freshman (three) and won the conference's freshman player of the year award.

But after injuring his left wrist during a practice in late January, Gordon was not the same player. His shooting percentage dropped and he committed more turnovers.

The slump caused his stock to drop, so Gordon is keeping his options open. Gordon planned to sign with an agent later, said his father, Eric Gordon Sr.

Gordon's decision comes after a tumultuous season at Indiana in which the Hoosiers' 25-8 record was overshadowed by Kelvin Sampson's midseason resignation, the promotion of Dan Dakich to interim coach, three player suspensions and a first-round loss to Arkansas in the NCAA tournament.

If Gordon stays in the draft, new coach Tom Crean will open next season trying to replace at least three starters and possibly all five. Forwards D.J. White and Lance Stemler were both seniors, and Dakich kicked guards Armon Bassett and Jamarcus Ellis off the team last Tuesday, just before Crean's hiring.

Crean, the Hoosiers' third coach in two months, will decide whether to reinstate Bassett, Ellis or both.

Gordon appeared that he would be the latest big Indiana high school star to spurn the in-state schools when he orally committed to Illinois as a junior. The recent list includes Greg Oden and Mike Conley Jr., who both left Ohio State after one college season, Josh McRoberts, Dominic James and Sean May.

But Sampson continued recruiting the flashy guard and in October 2006, Gordon announced he would sign with the Hoosiers, prompting a raucous response when he showed up for Indiana's Midnight Madness.



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