Friday , Apr , 16 , 2004 C.Y. Ellis

Okafor headed to the NBA

Storrs, CT (Sports Network) – University of Connecticut center Emeka Okafor
has decided to take his talents to the NBA.

The All-America center led the Huskies to the national championship earlier
this month and said at a news conference Friday that he will skip his senior
season to apply for the NBA Draft.

“I had a great three years here,” Okafor said. “My coaches, teammates, the
fans at Connecticut really made this place a home.”

Okafor, also an academic All-America, is on pace to graduate a year early with
a finance degree.

“I graduated with a degree, the No. 1 reason for being at college, No. 2 we
won a championship,” Okafor added. “All good things must come to an end, it’s
time to move on. After a discussion with my coaches and my parents I decided
it was time.”

Many NBA scouts predict Okafor will be one of the top selections, if not the
top overall pick, of the June draft.

Okafor, who battled back spasms throughout UConn’s post-season run, was the
Big East Player of the Year this past season and was a finalist for Wooden and
Naismith Awards as national player of the year.

The 6-foot-10 star was UConn’s second-leading scorer, averaging 17.6 points
per game, and led the Huskies with an average of 11.5 rebounds. He finished
his career with a dominating 24-point, 15-rebound performance in an 82-73
victory over Georgia Tech in the national championship game.

Okafor is one of just four players in UConn history with 1,000 points and
1,000 rebounds, and also finished his collegiate career with a school-record
441 blocked shots.

The Huskies have now lost their top two players to early-entry in the NBA
Draft, as leading scorer Ben Gordon also made his decision to turn pro earlier
this week.