By LAKEN LITMAN / Special Contributor
Texas sophomore Jordan Hamilton and freshmen Tristan Thompson and Cory Joseph have declared themselves eligible for the 2011 NBA Draft, the UT basketball program announced Friday.
Hamilton plans to hire an agent and forego his final two seasons of collegiate eligibility, but Thompson and Joseph will not, which means they may retain their eligibility if they withdraw their names by May 8.
With this departure (and if Thompson and Joseph do indeed leave), Rick Barnes loses his entire starting lineup, which consisted of Hamilton, Thompson, Joseph and graduating seniors Dogus Balbay and Gary Johnson.
This season Hamilton led the Longhorns in scoring (18.6 ppg) and ranked second on the in rebounding (7.7 rpg), double-doubles (eight) and minutes played (32.2 mpg).
“I want to thank everyone at The University of Texas, especially the fans, for all of their support over the last two years,” Hamilton said in a statement. “I have really grown as a person. My family and I really took our time with this decision and waited to get a good feel of what this year’s draft class would look like and where I can be drafted. With all the information we received, it is best for me to move forward now and pursue this opportunity. I will finish my spring semester classes and will always be a Longhorn.”
Thompson led the team in rebounding (7.8 rpg), blocked shots (86), double-doubles (10) and field goal percentage (.546) and ranked second in scoring (13.1 ppg). He was also named Big 12 Freshman of the Year.
“This was a difficult decision, but it was the best decision for myself and my family,” Thompson said in the statement. “I will continue to go to class and complete the spring semester here at Texas. I will continue to gather all the information about my draft status and use that information over the next two weeks to determine whether or not to keep my name in the draft.”
Joseph led the team in assists (3.0 apg), steals (37), three-point field goal percentage (.413, 52-of-126) and minutes played (32.4 mpg).
“I want to use this two-week period of time to get a better feel of what my draft status would be this year,” Joseph said in the statement. “I will finish my classes here, hopefully go through some workouts for NBA teams and personnel and use feedback from those workouts to make the best decision.”