LEXINGTON, KY. Guard Rajon Rondo is giving up his last two years at Kentucky to enter the NBA Draft and will hire an agent, ending his college eligibility.
Rondo led Kentucky in points, rebounds, assists and steals. The sophomore said Tuesday he and coach Tubby Smith made the decision last week.
Rondo intends to hire an agent soon. There had been speculation he might not do that, giving him the option of returning to the Wildcats.
"Some people said I should test the waters," he said. "But I'm very confident I'll prove my game to the scouts and let them know I'm one of the top point guards in the draft this year."
Smith always has praised Rondo's ability but yanked him and other standouts from the starting lineup toward the end of the Wildcats' disappointing season. He expects Rondo to be a high pick.
"We don't want to see Rajon leave, but we understand this is a dream of his and we're confident he'll be very successful at the next level," Smith said. "I don't think I've coached a better athlete, a more talented basketball player, in my entire life."
Rondo hopes to be a lottery selection, which would give him a three-year guaranteed contract and at least $1 million a year.
On Tuesday, the Web site www.NBAdraft.net projected Rondo as the No. 15 pick, one spot above Duke's J.J. Redick, the national player of the year, and one spot below Joakim Noah, who led Florida to the national championship.
Smith lauded Rondo's ability to get the ball inside or beat the defense and drive to the basket. His weakness is his shot, although he had buzzer-beaters this year against Central Florida and South Carolina.
Rondo's classmate, center Randolph Morris, attempted to enter the draft a year ago but went undrafted. He returned to Kentucky this season, but was suspended 14 games for his association with a sports agent.