Projected as one of the top five picks in the NBA draft, Georgia Tech’s 6-10 freshman Derrick Favors made it official Friday. He announced he will enter the NBA Draft, fulfilling the one-and-done prophecy many predicted.
“I just felt like it was the right decision for me to make,” Favors said Friday. “They said I was top 5, so I made that decision. I said ‘Why not?’”
Favors is one of the most highly-touted prospects Georgia Tech has ever had, coming in from South Atlanta as a Parade Magazine and USA Today high school player of the year.
He’ll leave after winning ACC rookie of the year and helping get the Yellow Jackets back to the NCAA tournament after a two-year drought.
He becomes the fifth Tech player to leave after just one season, along with Stephon Marbury, Chris Bosh, Thaddeus Young and Javaris Crittenton.
Favors is projected to go as high as third in the draft by NBAdraft.net behind Kentucky’s John Wall and Ohio State’s Evan Turner and fourth by draftexpress.com.
“In Derrick’s case, I understood,” said Tech coach Paul Hewitt, who had been told by his NBA contacts throughout the season that Favors would likely go in the top five.
Hewitt passed that projection on to Favors after the season was over, and it’s why he wasn’t surprised when he got Favors’ text message Friday morning that he was gone.
“I think mentally and emotionally he’s ready to make that type of jump,” Hewitt said. “I think he knows physically he’s got some things he’s got to work on. But the one thing about Derrick you don’t have to worry about is the off-the-court stuff…He’s as low maintenance as they come. You don’t have to worry about him being distracted.”
The soft-spoken Favors actually spent his spring break on Tech’s campus. He told Tech coaches it’s because he liked the peace and quiet.
That might be hard to come by as he takes the next step into the NBA. But he feels he’s ready.
When asked what challenges he’ll face, Favors said: “Probably the same thing as in college, getting adjusted to the game and the lifestyle.”
Favors, who doesn’t turn 19 until July, said an aunt might live with him wherever he goes. His mother will stay in Atlanta, but Favors hopes in a different house.
“It’s important for me to get her out of the neighborhood she’s living in and put her in a better house and take care of her,” he said.
Favors, who plans to finish out the semester at Tech, has not yet hired an agent. He said Friday he’s leaving the door open to return to school. But he would have only until May 8 to withdraw from the draft. It’s not something Georgia Tech is counting on.
In the last week, the Yellow Jackets have lost both junior forward Gani Lawal and now Favors to the NBA draft. Hewitt said he’d like to bring in at least one more frontcourt player to join 6-11 Daniel Miller and 6-8 Kammeon Holsey, who both redshirted this season. Spring signing period starts Wednesday.
Meanwhile, Hewitt said he’s used two practices this week and will use his last two next week to being installing a motion-style offense.
The Yellow Jackets need a change after losing their top two scorers and rebounders in Lawal and Favors. Favors averaged 12.4 points and 8.4 rebounds while becoming Tech’s 11th ACC rookie of the year.
He struggled early with conditioning and foul trouble but took his game to a new level at Maryland on Feb. 20 when he had 21 points and 18 rebounds.
From that game on, Favors averaged 15.9 points and 9.1 rebounds through a run to the ACC tournament finals and an eventual loss to Ohio State in the second round of the NCAA tournament.
“It was a good experience,” Favors said of his year at Tech. “I got to meet a lot of people, got to experience college life and playing in the ACC and playing in the tournament, playing for an ACC championship.”