(Updated 6 p.m.)
ATHENS — Trey Thompkins has played his last basketball game for Georgia, and Travis Leslie might have done so, too.
Thompkins and Leslie, juniors who were the Bulldogs’ top two scorers and rebounders this past season, announced Tuesday they will enter the NBA draft, although one of them — Leslie — left open the option of withdrawing.
Thompkins said he’ll hire an agent, meaning his decision to enter the draft and end his college career will be irreversible. Leslie said he will not hire an agent at this point, thus preserving the option of pulling out of the draft by the NCAA’s May 8 deadline and returning for his senior season at UGA.
Thompkins’ decision — and potentially Leslie’s — will mean a much different look next season for the Bulldogs, who are coming off a 21-12 season and an NCAA tournament appearance.
Thompkins, a 6-foot-10 forward from Lithonia, averaged 16.4 points and 7.6 rebounds per game in an injury-filled junior season. Leslie, a 6-4 guard from Decatur, averaged 14.4 points and 7.2 rebounds.
The consensus of draft analysts is that both players likely will be late first-round or early second-round picks, although one service, nbadraft.net, projects Thompkins near the middle of the first round at No. 17. His decision to enter the draft was not a surprise.
“I have spoken with my family and coaches about my situation, and I feel that it’s best for me to forgo my senior season,” Thompkins said in a statement. “I would just like to thank everyone who has supported me in this decision.”
Said coach Mark Fox: “I just feel like he felt like it was his time.”
Leslie, on the other hand, is unsure whether this is his time. He’ll receive a projection of his draft stock from the NBA’s underclassmen advisory committee, and Fox will help him gather information from the league’s 30 general managers. Leslie can begin working out for NBA teams April 29, but can’t do so on days he has classes.
“He is doing just what I think he should do — find out what the NBA thinks about him and [then] make an educated decision with the right facts,” Fox said.
Only first-round picks receive guaranteed contracts, and Fox figures Leslie “would need to hear” that he’ll be a first-rounder. Beyond that, “he’s going to have to make a decision on where his cut line is,” Fox said. “Is his cut line being the 20th pick in the draft? Is it being the 25th pick?”
Leslie declined to comment Tuesday.
Thompkins’ departure, combined with the loss of seniors Jeremy Price and Chris Barnes, ensures that the Bulldogs will be a smaller team next season. That translates to a different style of play.
Fox said he expects forwards Marcus Thornton and Donte Williams, both of whom played sparingly as a freshmen, to be “productive frontline players” next season.
“One thing we haven’t been able to do … is play the style of defense that I want to play because we haven’t been fast enough, quick enough, interchangeable enough, to do that,” Fox said. “Next year there’s a great chance we’ll look a lot more like I want us to defensively.”
But before Fox can formulate a plan for next season, he needs to know whether Leslie will be on the team.
“Obviously, because he’s a great player, [his decision] will impact how we’re going to play,” Fox said. “In the meantime, we’re somewhat in a holding pattern.”