Arizona's Ashley skipping senior season for shot at NBA

A late-season foot injury all but made Brandon Ashley's decision about the NBA for him after his sophomore season.

Now that he's a junior and fully healthy, the Arizona forward is ready to take the next step.

Ashley announced on Wednesday that he will declare for the NBA draft, ending a three-year career at Arizona that included 94 wins and three trips to the NCAA Tournament's Sweet 16.

He becomes the second Arizona player to leave school early for the NBA, joining sophomore forward Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, who made his announcement a day earlier.

''During my time as a Wildcat, I have grown both on and off the court, which has made me a stronger athlete and person today,'' Ashley said in a statement. ''I know this is the right time for me to make the move to the NBA, and I will continue to be one of the hardest working guys out there until I fulfill my lifelong dream of playing at the highest level.''

A San Francisco native, Ashley was part of a stellar recruiting class that included 7-foot center Kaleb Tarczewski and forward Grant Jerrett.

Ashley was an immediate contributor in the desert, causing matchup problems on the offensive end with his ability to post up, shoot from the perimeter or drive to the basket. The 6-foot-8 forward also gave opponents trouble defensively, as he was able to cover multiple positions on the floor with his long arms, lateral quickness and jumping ability.

Ashley missed the final 16 games of the 2013-14 season with a broken foot and had a bit of an adjustment period this season before rounding back into form.

Ashley averaged 12.2 points and 5.2 rebounds while helping lead the Wildcats to the Elite Eight for the second straight season. He was named Most Outstanding Player of the Pac-12 Tournament, which Arizona won for the first time since 2002 after he averaged 19.7 points per game and shot 73 percent from the field.

Ashley averaged 10.3 points and 5.4 rebounds during his three seasons at Arizona.

''We support Brandon's decision to declare for this year's NBA draft,'' Arizona coach Sean Miller said. ''Brandon had a major impact on all three of the teams that he played on during his time at Arizona. Watching him overcome the injury he sustained during the 2013-14 season and then have the type of junior season he had was one of my proudest moments as a coach.''

The Wildcats are still awaiting word on whether freshman forward Stanley Johnson will return or leave for the NBA.

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