Junior guard Iman Shumpert, who led the Tech men’s basketball team in points, rebounds, assists and steals last season, announced today that he will not return for his senior season and will enter the June 23 NBA Draft.
“I’ve decided to forego my senior year at Georgia Tech, keep my name in the NBA Draft for this year and hire an agent,” Shumpert said in a statement on ramblinwreck.com. “I appreciate everything that Georgia Tech has done for me over my time here. I’ve tried to take advantage of everything we have available…to help make me a better person and player. I want to thank the Georgia Tech fans for their support of our program even though we haven’t always met their expectations.”
Shumpert initially announced his intention to enter his name in the draft on Monday, March 28. He made his announcement via Twitter during Head Coach Brian Gregory’s introductory press conference but later asserted that the timing was simply a coincidence.
“[M]y decision was not a diss to [the new] coach,” Shumpert tweeted a few hours after initially announcing his intentions. In an interview with ramblinwreck.com earlier today, he repeated that Gregory’s presence had no bearing on his decision.
Upon declaring for the draft initially, Shumpert said he would return to Tech for his senior season if he found that he was unlikely to be drafted in the first round. Under NBA rules, first-round picks receive four-year contracts based on a predetermined rookie wage scale, but second-round picks are not guaranteed to sign.
After going through workouts for draft experts, Shumpert did not receive a conclusive answer on where he was likely to go, but he ultimately decided it was worth taking a chance.
“I felt that with all the reviews that I got, they were saying late first to early second to undrafted. So with such a wide range, I felt like if I was going to cement a spot on the draft board, I would have to go all-in as far as workouts go,” Shumpert said. “I grew up living by the saying that you play to win; you don’t play not to lose. There’s risk in everything, and I wasn’t going to let the risk of not making it stop me.”
Shumpert added that because he had continued to attend classes and practice with his teammates, he had not been able to devote enough attention to his draft preparation.
“It was difficult to [balance] school, trying to work out with the team and also trying to…get ready [for the draft], when other guys I know have already left school and have been training,” Shumpert said. “Now that I have time to handle all my workouts, I feel like I can improve my three-point shooting and improve my shooting consistency in general.”
The decision marks the end of Shumpert’s three-year career at Tech. A native of Oak Park, Ill., he was a five-star recruit and a McDonald’s All-American coming out of high school and was the only person then-Tech coach Paul Hewitt signed in his 2008 recruiting class.
Shumpert took over as Tech’s starting point guard as a freshman and remained in the role throughout his three years with the Jackets, starting 91 of Tech’s 98 games over that span. For his career, he averaged 12.7 points, 4.2 assists and 2.3 steals per game.
After a relatively quiet freshman season, Shumpert gradually emerged as one of the best defenders in the ACC as a sophomore. His ability to defend several top-notch guards in the 2009-2010 postseason—including Maryland’s Grievis Vasquez and Oklahoma State’s James Anderson, both of whom were first-round picks in last year’s NBA Draft—was instrumental in powering Tech to the ACC title game and the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
Last season Shumpert emerged as Tech’s best all-around player, averaging 17.3 points, 5.9 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 2.7 steals per game. He was both the primary ballhandler and the primary scorer for Tech, as he led the Jackets in scoring in 15 of the team’s 31 games. He frequently struggled to connect on jump shots, though, and the result was that he shot 40.6 percent from the field and 27.7 percent on three-point attempts.
Shumpert thanked the Tech athletic department’s academic support staff for helping him to maintain good grades and stay focused on classes. He noted that both Hewitt and Gregory placed a major emphasis on academics and hopes to return to complete his degree in the future.
“I know that Georgia Tech will honor my scholarship and I’ll be able to come back and get my degree at any time. Having that safety net is all I really need,” Shumpert said.