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April 7, 2009

Downey to test NBA; does not hire agent

Making a decision that was somewhat expected, South Carolina point guard Devan Downey submitted his name for early entry into the NBA on Tuesday.

But he still may be coming back to Columbia for his senior season.

"I feel at this point in my career it is important for me to test the draft waters to see what the next logical step in my basketball career is," Downey said in a statement. "I told coach (Darrin) Horn of my decision and he has been very supportive throughout the entire process."

Downey will not hire an agent, meaning he can withdraw his name until June 15 with no penalty. The NBA Draft is June 25.

Horn mentioned during his season wrapup two weeks ago that he and Downey had spoken about the next level, and Horn said then he had no indication of which way Downey was leaning. He said his main job was to support any decision Downey made and to gather as much draft-ranking information as possible to help out his player.

At this point, Downey's name isn't on many online NBA Draft Top 100 prospects or among their Top 10 point guards. That could change, though, after Downey participates in NBA workouts and shows scouts and team personnel what he can do.

One site, nbadraft.net, praised Downey's scoring and quickness, also labeling his confidence and hunger to win as prime characteristics. It also listed his main deterrent -- height.

"Downey lacks the size and strength for the NBA," the scouting report read. "Bigger point guards will take advantage of him, posting up on him or shooting and passing over the top of him. Offensively, Downey will have troubles getting his shot off if he is guarded by bigger players."

The report made the inevitable comparisons to other small guards in the NBA, such as Tyrone "Muggsy" Bogues and Earl Boykins, but said the 5-foot-9 Downey "wasn't vocal enough" to be a point guard.

He's plenty vocal enough for the Gamecocks.

Downey made his second straight first-team All-SEC appearance after averaging 19.8 points, 4.5 assists and 2.9 steals per game. Should he return for his senior year, he'll join returning starters Dominique Archie, Mike Holmes and Sam Muldrow as the Gamecocks attempt to improve on their 21-10 SEC East co-championship season.

Downey's presence would not only return the Gamecocks' best player, but also help Horn's program continue to grow. One of the coach's four recruits for next year is 6-2 guard Ramon Galloway, who could step into the spot vacated by Zam Fredrick.

The ideal situation would be to have Galloway learn alongside Downey, then inherit the point guard role for the 2010-11 season.

"He's a guy that we've brought in, and as I've said before, I think that he's more of a combo because he can score; he's extremely athletic," Horn said. "We got positive word that he dunked all over a 6-9 guy at an all-star game in Florida over the weekend. More than that, he would be the guy that would be thrust into more of a major role, or if not, be the guy who can learn from someone we all know is really good."

Horn was asked during his wrapup if he thought the NBA Draft process -- i.e., putting names in, going through the workouts, etc. -- had an effect on players. Specifically, he was asked if players got their heads filled with knowledge that perhaps they were better than they really were.

"I think at the end of the day, again, young people have to do what they feel is in their heart and follow that and make the best decision they can for their future," Horn said. "Our only role is going to be to help get him as much accurate information that we can to support him in whatever he wants to do.

"If you're asking me has that happened, yeah, it's happened. But just like anything else in life, every situation is different, based on that young person in their own individual situation. To say whether that would or would not happen, I don't think you can speculate. Does it happen? Sure, it does. But I don't know whether that's definite."



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