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UNLV's Khem Birch to declare for NBA Draft

Khem Birch averaged a double-double with the Rebels last season. (Ethan Miller/Getty Images) Khem Birch averaged a double-double with the Rebels last season. (Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

UNLV junior forward Khem Birch will forgo his senior season and declare for the 2014 NBA Draft, the program announced on Thursday.

Birch, who transferred from Pittsburgh and played at UNLV for two seasons, was the Mountain West's Defensive Player of the Year in both of his years with the Runnin' Rebels. Last season, the 6-foot-9, 220-pound Birch averaged 11.5 points, 10.2 rebounds, and 3.8 blocks per game.

"I loved playing here at UNLV for Coach [Dave] Rice and with my teammates," Birch said in a statement. "After talking at length with my family, I have decided to pursue my professional career. It was a tough decision, one that I thought about for a very long time. I will finish my classes this semester and I will be a Runnin' Rebel for life."

Birch's departure serves as another big loss for the Rebels. UNLV forward Roscoe Smith, who was the conference's leading rebounder last season, announced earlier this month he was entering the draft. And leading scorer Bryce Dejean-Jones will transfer and play out his final season of eligibility with Iowa State.

UNLV won 20 games last season, but its season ended in the semifinals of the Mountain West tournament.

"I loved coaching Khem for the last two years," Rice said of Birch's loss. "He is a hard worker and a gifted player. We appreciate all of his contributions to UNLV and support him 100 percent in this decision. We wish him great success as a professional."

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