COLUMBIA — Missouri men's basketball point guard Phil Pressey announced Wednesday morning that he will forgo his senior season to enter the NBA Draft.
Pressey made the announcement after signing with sports agency CAA sports. According to NCAA bylaws, by signing with an agent Pressey will lose his college eligibility.
“Many college basketball players dream of this day, but when I had to finally make this decision it was difficult because it means I am leaving a place I love so much,” Pressey said in a statement. “I love my teammates, my coaches, Mike Alden and all of our fans, and I’m so glad I had the chance to play for Coach Haith these last two years. He had such a big impact on my career and because of that relationship I will help Missouri Basketball anyway I can going forward.
“I wish we could have brought home a national championship banner, but coming to Mizzou was the best decision of my life. This is a special place, and I will always be a Tiger.”
Pressey led Missouri in career assists with 580, tied with Missouri guard Anthony Peeler with 196 steals and scored 959 points. Pressey helped Missouri to a 23-11 season. Missouri lost in its first game in the NCAA Tournament 84-72 to Colorado State.
Although Pressey had a statistically sound junior season, averaging career highs in scoring (11.9) and assists (7), he often had trouble late in games that cost Missouri against UCLA, Texas A&M, LSU and Arkansas.
However, Pressey was also a part of the 2011-12 Missouri guard that went 30-5 before going one-and-out in the NCAA Tournament to Norfolk State.
Some predict Pressey will be drafted in the middle of the second round, but much can change in the next few weeks depending on who declares on the draft and team needs. Players who want to declare for the draft early have until April 28 to do so.
Pressey will leave school next week to start preparing for his professional career. The NBA Draft is set to take place June 27.
Pressey's father, Paul, a former NBA player, is now an assistant coach with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
"He's played a big role in it," Phil Pressey said Wednesday morning in a teleconference. "He has ears all over the place, but overall he's just been a dad to me. He gave me the things I need to know and some of the bad things as well."
Coach Frank Haith said in the teleconference Pressey needed to work on his ability to finish around the basket and said Pressey's size was another issue. However, Haith praised Pressey's speed and court vision as his biggest strengths.
“It’s a bittersweet day because we all care so much about Phil, but I know how much research he and his family have done and I support that 100 percent,” said in a statement. “I was fortunate in that I had the opportunity to coach Phil for two seasons and he helped us win a lot of games, but more importantly, he was a great ambassador for our program both on and off the court. I wish Phil and his family all the best as he turns to a new chapter in his basketball career.”
Pressey's decision did not surprise Haith and the coaching staff.
"This was something that Phil and his family strongly looked at at the beginning of the year," Haith said. "We've been prepared about how we've gone about recruiting."
Finding a starter at point guard next season will be challenging for Missouri with guards Negus Webster-Chan and Dominque Bull transferring away, along with Pressey's departure.
Missouri recruit point guard Wes Clark will have a chance to compete for the newly vacated starting position at point guard. Clark is a top 75 recruit from Romulus, Mich.
Besides Clark, Haith will be looking at newly eligible Jordan Clarkson as another potential ball handler.
However, Missouri has a host of veterans returning next season in the guard position. Guards Earnest Ross, Jabari Brown and newly eligible Jordan Clarkson will be returning next year.
Newly recruited forwards Johnathan Williams III and Torren Jones will be joining forward Tony Criswell for his senior season.