Kentucky's James Young declares for 2014 NBA draft

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Kentucky's James Young has declared for the 2014 NBA draft. (Jamie Squire/Getty Images Sport)

(Jamie Squire/Getty Images Sport)

Kentucky freshman guard James Young declared for the NBA draft at a press conference on Thursday.

"My time at Kentucky has been special to me, something I’ll always treasure, but I feel that I’m ready to take the next step to the NBA,” Young said, according to WTVQ. "I’ve learned more this year, on and off the court, about life from [coach John Calipari] and the staff and appreciate all of their guidance and support. I can’t say enough about my teammates. The journey helped us build a bond that we will always share for the rest of our lives."

Young, 18, averaged 14.3 points, 4.3 rebounds and 1.7 assists in 32.4 minutes for the Wildcats this season, earning All-SEC Second Team and All-SEC Freshman Team honors. He tallied double figures in four of Kentucky's six NCAA tournament games, scoring 20 points (on 5-for-13 shooting) and grabbing seven rebounds in a title game loss to UConn.

Sports Illustrated’s Chris Mannix placed Young at No. 14 on his latest big board.

Young is erratic, and his defense is weaker than that of Harris, one of his primary rivals on the two-guard depth chart. But when he's on -- like he was in a 13-point, eight-rebound performance against Wichita State -- he's dangerous. Young has tinkered with his shooting technique through the season, and though it isn't flawless, it's improved. With solid size, Young has the potential to become a solid starter.

A native of Michigan, Young is listed at 6-foot-6 and 215 pounds and currently ranks No. 15’s Top 100 and No. 17 on Chad Ford’s Top 100