April 23, 2008

The D.J. & A.J. show is over at Texas.

On Wednesday, sophomore point guard D.J. Augustin and junior shooting guard A.J. Abrams both announced plans to declare early for the NBA draft, but did not hire agents. Sources close to the situation told SI.com that while Augustin has no plans to return to school, Abrams will seriously consider that option after testing the waters.

Augustin, a first-team Sports Illustrated All-America, averaged 19.2 points and 5.8 assists for the Longhorns, who were knocked out of the NCAA tournament in the Elite Eight by top-seeded Memphis. He's projected as a late lottery pick and is considered a lock to be selected in the first round, according to multiple NBA scouts. The heady floor general, who was also a first-team Academic All-American, patterns much of his game after Phoenix Suns star Steve Nash and is considered likely to be one of the first guards taken after Memphis' Derrick Rose, Arizona's Jerryd Bayless, USC's O.J. Mayo and Indiana's Eric Gordon are off the board.

In a school news release, Augustin said, "I have dreamed of playing in the NBA since I was a little boy, and I am ready to start living this dream."

Texas coach Rick Barnes, who, like Augustin, was unavailable for interviews on Wednesday, said in the same statement, "We are so thankful for the opportunity to have been around an individual like D.J. for the last two years."

Abrams, who averaged 16.5 points as a junior, helped carry the Longhorns to a 31-7 record, a share of the Big 12 regular-season title, and a No. 2 seed in the NCAA tournament. The university issued a statement later Wednesday regarding Abrams, in which he said, "If I'm comfortable with where I feel I'll be drafted, I'll stay in the draft. If not, I'll be back for my senior year." Abrams is currently not projected to be selected in mock drafts on NBAdraft.net or DraftExpress.com.

Augustin (37.3 minutes per game) and Abrams (35.9 mpg) manned the 'Horns' backcourt together for an overwhelmingly high amount of the time in '07-08. Together they scored 46.8 percent of Texas' points last season, had 46.5 percent of the team's steals and dished out 54.7 percent of the assists.

Had both players planned to return for another season in Austin, Texas would have been a strong candidate for a national preseason No. 1 ranking and the early favorite in the Big 12. Now the 'Horns face an uncertain situation at point guard, with junior Justin Mason and redshirt freshman Dogus Balbay the likely candidates on a committee to replace their departed All-America. Abrams, if he comes back, would be expected to help at the point, a position he played as a freshman alongside current Cleveland Cavalier Daniel Gibson.

The deadline for underclassmen to declare for the NBA draft is April 27, and a group of big names have yet to make their decisions. The plans of North Carolina's Tyler Hansbrough, Tywon Lawson and Wayne Ellington, as well as UCLA's Darren Collison and UConn's Hasheem Thabeet, could still greatly affect the college basketball landscape for 2008-09. All three of their teams -- the Tar Heels, Bruins and Huskies -- would be considered national title contenders should their wavering players return.

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