Gardner, a 5-foot-10, 181-pound guard from Indianapolis, Ind., averaged 10.9 points and a team-leading 4.1 assists per game, while shooting 38.1 percent from the floor in 36 games this season. An Associated Press honorable mention All-America pick, Gardner led the team in three-point field goals (76), ranked second in steals (59) and shot 80.9 percent from the free throw line.
"After talking with my family and coaches, I have decided to enter my name in the 2001 NBA Draft and chase my dream of playing professional basketball," said Gardner. "I have done a lot of research and talked to many people involved in the NBA and I feel that this is the best time to enter the draft."
Named the 2000 national Freshman of the Year, Gardner, averaged 12.5 points in Arizona's six NCAA Tournament games. He was named to the NCAA all-Midwest Regional team after totaling 28 points, six rebounds and six assists in wins over Mississippi and Illinois. He scored in double figures 20 times this season and notched his second career double-double (11 points/10 assists) vs. Oregon on March 3. Gardner's assist:turnover ratio of 2.33 this season was 0.66 higher than his freshman campaign.
Through two seasons, Gardner has averaged 11.7 points and 4.4 assists in 70 career games. He's collected 214 rebounds and 114 steals, while making 69 career starts.
"I will not sign with an agent and plan to follow all rules and guidelines set by the NCAA to retain my eligibility if I do not like my standing in the draft," said Gardner. "The University of Arizona has been wonderful to my family and me, and that is why I will not close the door on my eligibility."
Gardner has until June 20 to withdraw his name from the draft-eligible list and, by not signing with an agent, he could return to college without losing eligibility.
Gardner is the third Wildcat player to declare for the NBA Draft this season, joining Richard Jefferson and Michael Wright. Prior to 2001, only two UA players in the Lute Olson era left school early, Brian Williams (1991) and Mike Bibby (1998).
The 2001 NBA Draft is scheduled for Wednesday, June 27, at The Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York City.