UA's Markkanen leaving for NBA

UA's Markkanen leaving for NBA
(Source: University of Arizona Athletics)

TUCSON, AZ - University of Arizona freshman Lauri Markkanen has decided to enter the 2017 NBA Draft and forgo his remaining eligibility. The forward was a Third-Team All-American and Pac-12 All-Conference First Team selection for a Wildcat team that finished with a record of 32-5 and won a pair of conference championships.

"I want to thank my coaches, teammates, and fans for an amazing year at the University of Arizona," Markkanen stated. "I also want to thank everyone who helped me along the way in my journey from Finland. What that being said, I have decided to take the next step and declare for the NBA Draft."

The First Team All-Conference selection was also a voted to the Pac-12's All-Freshmen team by the league coaches. Markkanen went on to earn numerous national accolades, including being a USBWA All-District Team selection, Naismith Trophy semifinalist, Karl Malone Award finalist and a John R. Wooden Award finalist.

"I don't know if I have ever coached a player that has given more of himself and has cared more about the University of Arizona, his teammates, our team, our program, than this guy," said head coach Sean Miller. "He gave us his heart and his soul. He also gave us his talent."
The forward from Finland was a two-time Pac-12 Conference Player of the Week this season by averaging 20.5 points and 7.5 rebounds per game while shooting 63.6 percent from the field in road sweep of the Los Angeles schools before 22.5 points, 12.0 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 1.5 steals per game in road sweep of the Washington schools. His work in the sweep of USC and UCLA also earned him Oscar Robertson National Player of the Week from the USBWA. 

"His greatest strength is he focuses on the team and he's trying to win," Miller continued. "His play speaks for itself. It's bittersweet today. Anytime you see somebody recognize his dreams and you see the bright, bright future. He's given us a lot, and hopefully we've given him something he can always remember."

Markkanen left his mark on the Arizona record books, finishing in the top five in UA freshmen history in scoring, rebounding, made three-point field goals, made free throws and free throw percentage. He was also the only player in the Pac-12 Conference to rank in the top 12 in scoring, rebounding, free throw percentage and three-point field goal percentage while his 83.5 percent shooting at the charity stripe led the Pac-12.

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