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Hoyas’ Green remains in draft

- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Georgetown forward Jeff Green will remain in the NBA Draft, ending weeks of speculation on whether the junior had wavered from his initial decision.

Green, who is expected to be taken between the sixth and 12th picks, had until 5 p.m. yesterday to withdraw from the draft because of the NBA's early entry deadline.

Meanwhile, Virginia's Sean Singletary and George Washington's Maureece Rice both withdrew yesterday and will return for their senior seasons.

None of the decisions was surprising, but Green's certainly had the biggest impact. Had he returned, Georgetown would have been the favorite to win the national championship coming off their first Final Four appearance since 1985.

Few originally expected him to do so, however. When the Hoyas arrived in Atlanta in March, those closest to Green described him as a virtual lock to make the jump to the NBA. He declared soon after.

But Green's somewhat passive offensive showing (nine points on only five shots) in Georgetown's national semifinal loss to Ohio State combined with this year's unusually deep draft class apparently left the Big East player of the year with second thoughts.

When teammate Roy Hibbert withdrew from the draft last month, Green reiterated his decision but said he had not yet signed with an agent, meaning he still could return to school.

Even after his stock continued to climb following the NBA's physical combine and a series of individual workouts, the allure of returning to Georgetown made the decision tougher than anticipated. Hibbert's return made it even tougher, as every other piece of the team's tight-knit junior nucleus (Hibbert, Jon Wallace, Tyler Crawford and Patrick Ewing Jr.) was coming back.

Contrary to former reports, Green continued attending class and concluded his college career as a student in solid standing. But with otherwise-impressed NBA general managers looking for a professional commitment and every mock draft slotting him as a lottery lock, Green was pressed to decide.

"We certainly will re-evaluate our board now that he is off the fence and ready to move on," an Eastern Conference general manager said yesterday, adding that Green's hedging and unwillingness to travel for multiple-player workouts made assessing his value difficult. "Everybody knows he's a team player, great ball IQ guy, superb passer with good skills for his size. But he could have maybe removed some doubt about his abilities to be a real difference maker if he had given teams some looks with him going against guys in [isolation] situations."

Neither Green nor Georgetown coach John Thompson III could be reached for comment yesterday, but as recently as Friday, Thompson said he still had no idea about Green's decision.

"I haven't come right out and asked him, put him on the spot, but I can't even tell you which way he's leaning," Thompson said. "I think he really is torn because I know Jeff loves his team and the whole college experience. He's very special obviously as a player but especially as a person."

While Green, who averaged 14.3 points, 6.4 rebounds and 3.2 assists last season, is one of the top-rated players in the draft, Singletary and Rice were seen as second-round prospects at best.

Singletary, who averaged 19 points and earned All-ACC honors at Virginia, said he received valuable information from the draft process but ultimately determined it was best for him to return to school.

The 6-foot-1 Rice led the Colonials in scoring last season, averaging 15.8 points.

{bullet} The Associated Press contributed to this article.