WACO _ From all indications, Baylor forward Ekpe Udoh is prepared to announce that he's foregoing his senior season with the Bears to apply as an early entry candidate in this year's NBA Draft.
Named third-team All-American and the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year this season, Udoh will hold a press conference at the Ferrell Center in less than 30 minutes to officially announce his future aspirations. It is at that time that the 6-10, 240-pound Edmond, Okla., native will tell the media that he's going to turn pro.
ESPN's Chad Ford is predicting Udoh will be the 11th overall pick in the June 24 draft to the New Orleans Hornets. If so, that means he's guaranteed to earn a rookie scale salary next year of $1,772,100.
In his one and only season playing at Baylor this past year after transferring from Michigan, Udoh averaged 13.9 points, 9.8 rebounds and 3.69 blocks per game. He also set the single-season Big 12 record in blocks with 133.
With his penchant for clogging the middle, Udoh was at the heart of a Baylor defense that was one of the best in the conference. He also surprised a lot of people with his ability to handle the ball and shoot effectively from 18 feet on in.
Baylor used Udoh's superior play around the paint to compile a school-record 28 wins this year while reaching the NCAA Elite 8 for the first time in the modern era.
With Udoh gone, the Bears hope Duncanville recruit Perry Jones will be ready to step in and play right away. The 6-11 Jones was a McDonald's and Parade All-American this past season.
-- Dwain Price