Sam Dekker entering draft after boosting stock in NCAA tournament

ByJeff Goodman ESPN logo
Saturday, April 11, 2015

Wisconsin junior Sam Dekker is leaving for the NBA.

"Obviously, it's a tough decision because we've had so much success as a team and we're such good friends," Dekker told ESPN. "I love the school and am so grateful for everything, but I think this is the right decision for me as a player and as a person. I'm ready for the next step."

Dekker, a 6-foot-9 forward, averaged 19.1 points and made 15 of 36 shots from beyond the arc in the NCAA tournament.

"It is difficult to leave Madison and the only state I've called home, but I'm excited for the next chapter in my life,'' Dekker said in a seven-paragraph letter addressed to fans and released by the team.

Multiple NBA executives said that Dekker's stock improved as much as anyone in the NCAA tourney.

"He was probably in the 20-25 range before the tournament, but now he'll likely be a lottery pick," one NBA executive told ESPN. "He made big shots throughout the tournament."

Dekker finished with 27 points against Arizona and took over the game in the second half. He had 16 points against Kentucky in the national semifinals and made two huge plays down the stretch. Dekker struggled in the national title loss to Duke, missing all six of his 3-point attempts, but still finished with 17 points.

The Sheboygan, Wisconsin, native was a McDonald's All American and came into the program with a huge reputation. His production increased each season and he started all 78 games for Wisconsin each of the last two seasons.

But he battled an ankle injury throughout the nonconference campaign and finished the season averaging 13.9 points and 5.5 rebounds.

However, NBA executives questioned whether he could shoot the ball from beyond the arc on a consistent basis and also whether he could make plays with the game on the line.

"He did both," another NBA executive told ESPN.

"Another year in college could have helped me, but I feel I can also get much better playing and learning from NBA guys," Dekker said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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