STORRS, Conn. (March 29, 2005) - University of Connecticut sophomore Charlie Villanueva (Brooklyn, N.Y.) announced Tuesday that he will forego his final two seasons of eligibility at UConn and make himself available for the 2005 NBA Draft.
Villanueva made the announcement during a press conference at Gampel Pavilion where he was joined by UConn head coach Jim Calhoun, as well as teammates, family and friends.
Villanueva appeared in 63 games in his two seasons as a Husky, starting 35 of those contests, including all 31 games as a sophomore in 2004-05. He was the Huskies leading scorer this season, averaging 13.6 points and 8.3 rebounds while earning All-BIG EAST and NABC All-District Second Team honors. He played his best ball down the stretch in 2004-05, averaging 18.2 points and 9.7 rebounds over the final ten games of the season and averaging 19.0 points and 9.5 rebounds during the NCAA Tournament. Villanueva led the team with 12 double-doubles on the year.
Villanueva was a BIG EAST All-Rookie team selection as a freshman in 2003-04, helping the Huskies to the 2004 NCAA National Championship. He came to UConn as a consensus All-American as a senior at Blair Academy.
Villanueva is the eighth UConn player to declare early for the NBA Draft, joining Donyell Marshall (1994), Ray Allen (1996), Richard Hamilton (1999), Khalid El-Amin (2000), Caron Butler (2002), Ben Gordon (2004) and Emeka Okafor (2004). All but one of those players (El-Amin) was an NBA Draft Lottery selection and continues to perform in the NBA currently.
"Today is a special day. Its a hard day, a sad day and a happy one as well," Villanueva said. "I am moving on to my next stage in life and am ready to face the challenge. UConn has done a great job of preparing me for that. I am going to miss my teammates, but I am excited."
"Charlie is one of the more talented young men I have had the opportunity to coach," Calhoun said. "He leaves here with three rings, and he leaves here with his mind made that this is the best thing for Charlie. He is a terrific kid, a special young man. He has great talent, great character and he wants to be good. Ill miss him and will watch him grow as a person and basketball player. He will always have a home at UConn."