tampabay.com

Gator duo will test NBA draft

Without agents, they will stay college-eligible.

By ANTONYA ENGLISH
Published April 14, 2005


GAINESVILLE - They entered the Florida basketball program together three years ago. Now they'll explore whether to go out together this summer.

Florida junior guards Anthony Roberson and Matt Walsh will declare for the NBA draft, but neither will retain agents, leaving open the option of returning for their senior seasons.

Walsh made his intentions known Wednesday afternoon, a few hours after Roberson announced his decision. Coach Billy Donovan said he supports both.

"My stance is they've got to do what they want to do," Donovan said. "They are still participating in everything that the University of Florida men's basketball team is doing on a regular basis, so I don't have any problem with this. As we get further towards the date when they've got to make a final decision, I'll probably voice my opinion of what I think is good or bad. But I can't sit here right now and say these guys are making a bad decision by doing what they are doing."

Roberson's decision wasn't a surprise. He considered leaving at the end of his sophomore season and hinted last month he would consider his pro options. A two-time All-SEC first team selection, he averaged 17.5 points and led the SEC in league play with 20.8 points per game, the only player in the SEC to average more than 20 points and score at least 15 points in all 16 league games.

Roberson, 22, said in a statement that he will gather more information before he makes a final decision.

The decision by Walsh, 22, is a surprise. He is the Gators' second leading scorer (14.6) and was MVP of the SEC tournament, but had given no indication he was considering the draft.

"I'm in a unique situation where I feel I have the opportunity to explore this further and collect more information," Walsh said in a statement. "I truly love the University of Florida, but I feel I owe it myself to see where I am right now because it's my dream to be able to play professionally one day."

Donovan said he will be closely involved with both players to make sure they are given legitimate information, they carefully weigh all options and they don't violate any NCAA rules that could jeopardize their eligibility. He said his NBA contacts have indicated there is interest in Roberson, but whether he becomes a first- or second-round pick most likely will depend on how he fares in individual workouts and what other players enter the draft.

Walsh has indicated to Donovan that he will return to school if he is not a first-round draft pick, but Roberson's status is more uncertain.

"Anthony has not come out and told me if he's not a first round pick he's coming back," Donovan said.

For now, Donovan said he does not plan to sign any new recruits in the event he loses his top two returners.