Travis Leslie will keep dunking for the Dogs for at least another year.
Georgia’s high-flying sophomore forward from Decatur announced Wednesday afternoon that he will pass on the 2010 NBA draft and remain with the Bulldogs for his junior season.
“After talking about it with my family and coaches, I believe it’s the best decision for me,” Leslie said in a statement. “I enjoy being at Georgia. . . I think we have a chance to have a great season next year. Right now I just want to continue working hard to improve as a player and help us become a great program.”
Leslie made huge strides in his second season at Georgia, averaging 14.8 points and 6.8 rebounds per game and drawing much national attention for his dunks. He had a recurring role on ESPN’s “Top 10″ plays-of-the-day feature.
His sophomore season contrasted sharply with his freshman year, when Leslie averaged 6.3 points and 3.9 rebounds and was benched for the final five games to focus on academics.
Leslie had said during this past season that he planned to return for his junior year, but he amended that after the SEC tournament, saying he would discuss the NBA draft possibility with his family.
“He knows what he would have to hear [from the NBA] to leave here,” Georgia coach Mark Fox said earlier this week, “and he’s been very mature in his approach. . . . One of the things Travis will tell you is, he knows there are a lot of things he can continue to work on. And he enjoys college.”
Leslie declined an interview request after Wednesday’s announcement, saying he had schoolwork to do.
Some NBA mock drafts have Leslie, who attended Columbia High School, as a first-round pick in 2011, but he had not been projected as a first-rounder in 2010.
With Leslie’s decision made, Georgia awaits word on whether Trey Thompkins, also a sophomore, will enter the draft. Thompkins, who declined comment Wednesday, made first-team All-SEC this past season, leading Georgia in scoring (17.7 points per game) and rebounds (8.3 per game).
“I don’t know,” Fox said when asked this week whether Thompkins will go or stay. “We’re getting information for him. He knows I’ll support whatever he does. It’s his life, and it’s his career. He enjoys college and knows he can get better, but he’s got a very bright future. If I was going to give him any advice, it would be to listen to the 30 general managers that make the decision on draft day. . . . We need to find out what those people think.”
The NBA’s deadline for underclassmen to enter the draft is April 25, and the NCAA’s deadline for underclassmen to withdraw from the draft and preserve their college eligibility is May 8.