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MEN’S BASKETBALL: Francis declares himself eligible for 2005 NBA Draft

Pat Leonard | Friday, April 15, 2005

Notre Dame junior forward Torin Francis declared himself eligible Thursday for the 2005 NBA Draft to be held June 28.Francis said he does not plan to hire an agent and has the option to withdraw from the draft until June 21. An underclassman that declares early can return to school and pull his name from the draft until a week before the draft’s scheduled date as long as he does not hire an agent.In the meantime, Francis will continue workouts with Notre Dame and will participate in the NBA pre-draft camp June 7-10 in Chicago.”I feel like I owe it to myself and my family to explore this option,” Francis said in a statement Thursday afternoon.The team’s fourth-leading scorer this season, Francis averaged 9.3 points and grabbed a team-high 7.9 rebounds per game, becoming the team’s leading rebounder for the third straight season.The 6-foot-10 forward scored double figures in 14 games and grabbed 10-plus rebounds in eight games. Francis scored a season-high 21 points as the team’s only consistent threat in a first round loss to Rutgers in the Big East tournament March 9.Francis also struggled at times this season, however, coming off back surgery March 8, 2004 to repair a herniated disc.He scored only six points against Boston College Feb. 8, one point against Pittsburgh in the team’s next game and zero points in a Feb. 19 nail-biter with Providence.Irish coach Mike Brey supported Francis’ decision, even if he has reservations.”While my gut tells me that Torin Francis is a four-year player for us here at Notre Dame, I fully support the decision he has made to explore the option he has of playing in the NBA next season,” Brey said in a statement Thursday afternoon.”My job now is to help him collect information on where he stands in regards to the June draft.”We need to keep in mind that this is a young man that has undergone major back surgery, and I understand that he may want to take advantage of the fact that he is healthy right now.”Francis said he appreciates the support of his coaching staff.”I feel comfortable with the decision I have made to look into the opportunity of playing at the next level, because I have the full support of Coach Brey and the entire Notre Dame community,” Francis said in his statement.As a sophomore, Francis played in 20 games before undergoing the surgery. An all-Big East honorable mention selection, he averaged 14.2 points and a team-leading 8.8 rebounds.In his freshman season, Francis averaged 11.1 points and 8.4 rebounds en route to earning Big East all-rookie team honors.Francis has started all 83 games he has played and owns career averages of 11.2 points and 8.3 rebounds (931 points and 686 rebounds).He is tied for fourth on the career blocked shots list with 126 and ranks fourth all-time with a 1.5 career average.