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Arizona's Richard Jefferson Declares for NBA Draft
By: Arizona Athletics
Release: April 08, 2001
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TUCSON, Ariz. – Arizona men's basketball player Richard Jefferson has decided to forego his senior season and make himself eligible for the 2001 NBA Draft.

Jefferson, a 6-foot-7, 222-pound forward from Phoenix, Ariz., averaged 11.3 points, 5.4 rebounds and 2.7 assists in 35 games this season. He shot 47.9 percent from the floor and 34.4 percent from three-point range, while raking second on the team in blocked shots (28); third in rebounds (5.4), three-point field goals (31) and assists (94); and fourth in steals (27).

"I want to thank Coach Olson, the Arizona staff, my teammates, the university community and the fans for their support over the last three years," said Jefferson. "It has been a lifelong dream of mine to play in the NBA, and I feel like the time is right for me to go. I have enjoyed every minute as a member of this program."

He was a key figure in Arizona's runner-up finish in the 2001 NCAA Tournament. Jefferson averaged 13.5 points and 6.3 rebounds while shooting 50.0 percent from the field in six tournament games. He was named to both the all-Midwest Regional and all-Final Four teams for his efforts. It was his defense that served as his calling card in the NCAA Tournament, as Jefferson limited Illinois' Frank Williams, the Big Ten Conference Player of the Year, and Michigan State's Jason Richardson, a second team All-American, to a combined 15 points on 5-of-26 shooting in back-to-back wins in March.

One of the most electrifying players in the country, Jefferson scored in double figures in 53 of 84 career games. He posted career averages of 11.1 points and 5.0 rebounds, while shooting 49.0 percent from the floor and making 77 starts.

Jefferson is just the third Arizona player to leave school early for the NBA Draft in the Lute Olson era, joining 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.

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