Georgia Tech’s Favors decides to leave early for NBA

ATLANTA — Derrick Favors’ brief stay at Georgia Tech has come to an end.

Joining All-ACC forward Gani Lawal, the conference rookie of the year announced early Friday afternoon that he, too, has decided to enroll in the NBA draft, and will forgo his final three seasons with the Yellow Jackets.

Slated to be anywhere from a No. 3 to No. 5 overall pick in the June draft, Favors has been long tabbed by scouts and NBA insiders as a lottery pick who would be foolish to turn down an immediate and lucrative opportunity to go pro.

“I look forward to taking this next step in my basketball career,” Favors said through a statement from Georgia Tech. “The time is right, and this is the best decision for me and my family. I’ve enjoyed my time at Georgia Tech and feel my year here has helped my development as a player.”

Favors averaged 12.4 points and 8.4 rebounds in his first and only season at Georgia Tech. The former South Atlanta star, whose double-double in the GHSA Class AAA final propelled the Hornets to a state title at the Macon Coliseum last March, is the second Georgia Tech player to leave early.

Last Friday, Lawal announced he was going to forgo his senior year. Projections last week had him going as high as 19th overall to the San Antonio Spurs. But that was before Kentucky’s entire starting 5 earlier this week declared their draft hopes. Projections on mock draft Web site this week have him going as low as No. 22 overall to the Boston Celtics.

Head coach Paul Hewitt wished Favors well on this journey, but was expectedly dismayed to see the young star leave.

“We wish Derrick all the best as he pursues his professional basketball career,” Hewitt said. “He did a tremendous job for us this year and was a big part of our success. I’m confident he will be successful at the next level.”

After sporting a losing record in conference play during the regular season, the Yellow Jackets streaked through the ACC tournament and into the NCAA tournament. Winning three of their last five games, much of their success was built upon the shoulders of Favors, the 6-foot-10, high-leaping, aggressive post player who provided a nightly batch of highlights.

Favors is expected to speak to members of the media later this afternoon.

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