CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) — Justin Anderson is forgoing his final season at Virginia and entering the NBA draft.
The university announced his intentions Monday, but said he has not hired an agent, a move that would end his amateur status and force him into the draft. His decision was first reported by Yahoo Sports.
”It’s been a life-long dream of mine to play in the NBA and I’ve had an incredible experience here at UVa,” Anderson said in a statement released by the school. ”It’s really difficult to say goodbye, but I feel I’m ready to make the next step in my basketball career at the professional level.”
During his time at Virginia, Anderson often attended games of other Cavaliers programs, often with a front-row seat.
”I thank Justin for three great years at UVa,” coach Tony Bennett said. ”Justin has been an outstanding player, ambassador and role model for our program and we’ll miss him. He has worked hard on his game, and has earned this opportunity to realize his life-long dream of playing in the NBA.
”He helped us win a lot of games and will always be a part of the Virginia basketball family.”
The 6-foot-6, 228-pound guard with outstanding leaping ability made the biggest impression at Virginia with his shot blocking and crowd-pleasing dunks.
He averaged 12.2 points this season and was leading Virginia in scoring when he broke the pinkie finger on his (left) shooting hand against Louisville on Feb. 7. He also was leading the conference in 3-point shooting percentage at 48.4 percent before making just 1 of 9 after his return from the injury.
The long-distance shooting marked a vast improvement from his first two seasons when he made 50 of 168 3-point tries, or 29.8 percent.
By midway through his freshman season, Anderson with the ball in the open court produced an escalating murmur from the stands; fans had come to expect him to finish with flair. This season, Bennett finally installed an alley-oop play for Anderson that the Cavaliers used repeatedly down the stretch.
Virginia (30-4) won its second consecutive Atlantic Coast Conference regular-season championship, and matched its record for victories in a season. The Cavaliers were a No. 2 seed in the NCAA tournament, but lost to Michigan State in the round of 32.
The ACC’s top sixth man as a sophomore, Anderson entered his junior season as a career 29.8 percent 3-point shooter (50-168), but started the season at a blistering pace before the broken finger. He missed Virginia’s next eight games, and also underwent an appendectomy on the eve of his return, but played in the last four games, making just 6 of 18 shots.
For the season, he finished 47 of 104 from beyond the arc, 45.2 percent.