Utah#039;s Bogut bypasses final 2 years for NBA draft

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, March 29, 2005

The Associated Press

SALT LAKE CITY - Utah center Andrew Bogut will enter the NBA draft, forgoing his final two years of eligibility to possibly become the No. 1 choice.

''I have no regrets and full-speed ahead,'' the 7-footer from Australia said at a news conference Monday.

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Bogut, the leading vote-getter on the AP All-America team, averaged 20.4 points and 12.2 rebounds while leading the Utes to a 29-6 season, which ended with a loss to Kentucky in the regional semifinals of the NCAA tournament.

''My decision is about what is best for my basketball career,'' Bogut said.

He's already hired an agent.

Bogut considered leaving after last season, when he was the Mountain West Conference freshman of the year, but a visit to Australia from new Utah coach Ray Giacoletti convinced Bogut to put off the NBA at least another year.

Bogut is expected to be a lottery pick in the NBA draft and possibly the first player chosen overall with his exceptional ballhandling skills for a center. Bogut led Utah in scoring and rebounding and was third on the team in assists with 82.

Bogut recorded double-doubles in all but nine games this season and finished with at least 10 points and 10 rebounds 40 times in his Utah career. And at just 20 years old, NBA scouts - fixtures at Utah games this season - are convinced he can only get better.

Bogut was a starter on Australia's Olympic team last summer and averaged 14.8 points and 8.8 rebounds.

It would have been a much bigger surprise if Bogut had elected to return to Utah for another season. Bogut declined to talk about his future after the 62-52 loss to Kentucky, but his teammates had a good idea what was coming.

''Bogut is definitely gone, you can see it in his eyes,'' Utah forward Bryant Markson said after Friday's game.

Former Utah coach Rick Majerus, who resigned midway through last season because of health concerns, pulled off one of his best recruiting achievements when he got Bogut to sign with Utah. Bogut was scheduled to join the Utes midway through the 2002-03 season, but had trouble getting cleared by the NCAA.

Bogut could have gone pro right away in Europe or signed with another school because his commitment to Utah expired during the delay, but kept his word and arrived in Salt Lake City in 2003.