SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) A second straight strong run in the NCAA Tournament helped convince Notre Dame's Demetrius Jackson he is ready for the next level.
Jackson, who averaged 15.8 points and 4.7 assists in leading the Irish to a 24-12 record and an Elite Eight appearance, is forgoing his final year of eligibility to enter the NBA Draft. He hasn't decided on an agent yet and plans to finish his college degree eventually.
''Ending the season on a positive note, going out recently and playing with our team and accomplishing some of the things we were able to accomplish definitely helped me in my decision,'' Jackson said Wednesday at a news conference attended by many of his teammates.
Jackson said he reached his decision after meeting with coach Mike Brey on Tuesday. He announced his choice in an Instagram post on Tuesday night.
Jackson had 26 points, four assists and a steal in Sunday's season-ending loss to North Carolina, prompting Brey to say he looked like an NBA guard.
The 6-foot-1 point guard also scored 12 points in the second half against Stephen F. Austin and made a layup and a pair of free throws as Notre Dame rallied from five points down with 2:03 to play to win. He also scored 14 points in the second half against Wisconsin and had two steals in the final 15 seconds, the first leading to a go-ahead layup.
Brey previously said he expected Jackson to not hire an agent and keep his option of returning to Notre Dame open, but Jackson said after talking with Brey and others he decided to hire an agent, leave school and focus on getting ready for the draft.
''It was the best thing for me,'' he said.
Jackson said his goal is to be a first-round pick, just as Jerian Grant was last season when he was drafted 19th overall by Washington and traded to New York. Notre Dame has produced only two other first-round picks in 16 seasons under Brey: Ryan Humphrey in 2002 and Troy Murphy in 2001.
Jackson, who is from Mishawaka, a city east of South Bend, described the decision as difficult.
''Because this is my home, so kind of leaving the nest for the first time, so a very difficult decision,'' he said. ''But ultimately it's the best one for me.''
Jackson, who was placed into foster care at age 12, said after he signs an NBA contract he hopes to buy his mother a house.
''When I was younger, I haven't told very many people this, I promised my mother that I would kind of buy her a new home. That's one of my goals, and hopefully something I'll be able to accomplish in the next couple years,'' he said.