SEATTLE — Once Tony Wroten got word from an NBA advisory committee that he would almost assuredly be a first-round pick, the polarizing Washington freshman was headed for the pros.
Wroten announced Tuesday he would declare for the NBA draft and hire an agent, ending his collegiate career after one season during which he was the Pac-12 freshman of the year but could not help the Huskies reach the NCAA tournament.
“I just felt like it was the right time and I was ready and it was the best decision for me and my family,” Wroten said during a conference call. “I accomplished a lot, and I’m ready for the next step.”
Wroten said he received word from the NBA draft advisory committee that he would be selected anywhere between the top 5 and about the No. 25 pick, depending on how his individual workouts go. Hearing that news all but cinched Wroten’s decision that even though his game still needs work, he was ready to make the NBA leap. He purposely held off on making the announcement until Tuesday, his mother’s birthday.
Wroten acknowledged he would have regrets if he did slip out of the first round.
Various mock drafts have Wroten currently going in the latter half of the first round.
Wroten made his announcement less than 48 hours after teammate Terrence Ross announced his intention to leave Washington following his sophomore season. The Huskies will now go from having one of the most talented guard pairs in the country to needing to replace the top two scorers from a team that won the Pac-12 regular-season title. Washington was also the first team from one of the six major power conferences to win a regular-season crown and not make the NCAAs. The Huskies reached the semifinals of the NIT before losing to Minnesota.
“Just make the NCAA Tournament, I wish we could have done that,” Wroten said. “But at the end of the day, I think everything happens for a reason and I would have loved to be in the NCAA Tournament … but I just have to move forward.”
Wroten was Washington’s leading scorer for most of the season, but was the subject of constant debate by fans who were thrilled by Wroten’s electric ability to create his own shot but were often left shaking their heads when he struggled to make a simple play. He set Washington freshman records for scoring, assists and steals, but also had more turnovers (132) than assists (130).
Wroten averaged 16 points a game for the season, just slightly behind Ross’ 16.4, but will need to develop an outside shot at the NBA level. Wroten shot 44 percent for the season, but most of that shooting came from inside 12 feet.
Wroten was just 9 of 56 (16 percent) on 3-pointers and did not make one after Jan. 28 — a span of 14 games.
Asked why he thought he was NBA ready, Wroten was succinct with his answer.
“My athleticism and my court vision and my potential,” he said.
He’s just the second Washington freshman to declare for the draft, joining center Spencer Hawes, who left after his only season in 2007. Wroten said he consulted with a number of local NBA players, including Jamal Crawford, Nate Robinson and Isaiah Thomas, who left Washington last year after his junior season and has twice been named Western Conference rookie of the month playing for the Sacramento Kings.
“They felt like I was ready. … They felt like I was ready now,” Wroten said. “I’m just happy they have my back and they were great for somebody to look up to.”