RICHMOND, Va. Ã¢â‚¬â€œ Junior Larry Sanders (Fort Pierce, Fla.) of the Virginia Commonwealth University menÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s basketball team has declared himself eligible for the 2010 NBA Draft. He will hire an agent and forego his final season of eligibility with the Rams.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“This is a decision that I spent a lot of time thinking about and was very difficult to make,Ã¢â‚¬Â Sanders said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“But after talking it over with my mom, my coaches and everyone that has supported me throughout the years, I have to decided to pursue my dream of playing in the NBA.Ã¢â‚¬Â
The 6-11 forward is considered a potential first-round selection in June.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I have had an incredible support system throughout my life and they are the ones that have enabled me to be in this position today,Ã¢â‚¬Â Sanders stated. Ã¢â‚¬Å“I want to thank my mom for putting her life to the side to help me get where I am right now. I want to thank VCU for the opportunity to play college basketball and the education. I fully intend to return in the future and complete the necessary classes to earn my degree from VCU.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“To all my coaches, I canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t thank you enough. To Coach [Kareem Rodriguez] and all my supporters and Port St. Lucie High School, thank you. Coach Rodriguez has always treated me like his son and that has meant so much to me. To Coach Grant and his staff, thank you for bringing me here and giving me this chance to make it to the next level. To Coach Smart and my current coaches, thank you for stepping in right away and taking me under your wings and giving me the guidance and support. It was unbelievable to me, that in their first year, the way they stuck by me all the way through this difficult decision.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“And to my hometown of Fort Pierce, thank you for the constant love and support you have given me ever since I was a little kid.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Sanders helped the Rams to a 75-27 record during his three seasons, including two CAA regular-season championships and one CAA tournament championship.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I couldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t have done all of this without my teammates,Ã¢â‚¬Â Sanders commented. Ã¢â‚¬Å“My teammates were the ones who worked hard every day at practice and helped me elevate my game on a daily basis. I will never forget these guys that have become my brothers over the past three years.Ã¢â‚¬Â
This past year, he led the team in scoring (14.4), rebounds per game (9.1) and field-goal percentage (53.4%). All three were career-highs and helped him earn a spot on the All-CAA First Team. The honor was his second straight all-conference accolade as Sanders was named to the All-CAA Second Team during his sophomore campaign.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m extremely happy for Larry and 100% supportive of his decision to enter the NBA draftÃ¢â‚¬Â, Head Coach Shaka Smart said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Our program is very thankful for the contributions that Larry has made to VCU basketball over the past three years. He has provided all of us with many lasting memories and created highlights that we will never forget.Ã¢â‚¬Â
In March, Sanders earned his second consecutive Colonial Athletic Association Defensive Player of the Year awards in 2008-09 and 2009-10. His length, athleticism and quickness are what drew over 180 NBA Scouts to VCU games this past season.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“LarryÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s opportunity is extremely unique and exciting,Ã¢â‚¬Â Smart said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Over the next few years, I am very confident that he will to continue to grow and develop as a player and find significant success at the next level. IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m extremely pleased that another member of the VCU basketball family is about to realize his dream of playing in the NBA.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Sanders is expected to be the second straight NBA Draftee from VCU, joining Ram great Eric Maynor, who was selected 20th overall by the Utah Jazz in last yearÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s NBA draft.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Coming to VCU was the best decision IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve ever made,Ã¢â‚¬Â Sanders said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“This place is one close-knit family, from the fans to the coaches to the players. Everyone has each otherÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s back and this place is the main reason I am able to take this next step.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Sanders concludes his Black & Gold career with 1,044 points (27th all-time at VCU), 776 rebounds (fourth all-time), 277 blocks (second all-time) and 28 double-doubles (third all-time).
The 2010 NBA Draft is scheduled for Thursday, June 24, at 7 p.m. at Madison Square Garden in New York City.