Louisville junior Terrence Jennings has decided to declare for the NBA Draft, but won’t hire an agent, thus preserving his ability to return to the Cardinals next season.
Jennings, a 6-10, 245-pound junior center, is projected as a potential second round pick or to go undrafted by ESPN. As a junior, Jennings started 23 games for the Cardinals, averaging 9.6 points and 5.2 rebounds. Jennings blocked a team-high 65 shots this season.
Though Jennings had his best season at UofL, he still has a lot to prove about his game, namely his rebounding. Despite his size and athleticism, Jennings has never been regarded as a particularly great rebounder, though he did improve his rebound totals late in the season.
"It will be great for T.J. to see how people work in this environment and the type of competition and I’ll get feedback from every general manager on what he needs to work on," Rick Pitino told the Louisville Courier-Journal. "I think it’s almost good because they’ll tell him, ‘You’ve got to get your rebound numbers up, you’ve got to get your balance better’ — all the things I’ve been telling him, they’ll reinforce it."
Jennings has until May 8 to withdraw from the 2011 NBA Draft. Though this year’s draft class isn’t considered particularly strong, Jennings is expected to return to Louisville for his senior season. If Jennings returns to Louisville, he’d be a key component of a team widely considered one of the Top 10 nationally and one of the top centers in the Big East next season.
Last spring, Louisville faced a similar situation with Samardo Samuels, who declared for the NBA Draft after his sophomore season. Though Samuels was expected to return for his junior season, he elected to remain in the draft, but went undrafted. Samuels then signed a free agent with Cleveland, where he has enjoyed a solid rookie campaign, averaging 7.8 points per game.
Even if Jennings opts to keep his name in the upcoming NBA Draft, Louisville will have plenty options at center next season. 6-10 Gorgui Dieng returns after a promising freshman campaign and the Cardinals are expected to add 6-11 Tony Woods, a junior transfer from Wake Forest. Louisville also signed 6-10 Zach Price, one of the nation’s top center prospects from Jeffersontown, Ky.