South Florida’s Victor Rudd unexpectedly declares for the draft

Two Big East players became the first prominent underclassmen to declare for the NBA draft on Monday afternoon.

St. John's freshman Moe Harkless is taking a calculated risk. South Florida sophomore Victor Rudd may be making a mistake.

Whereas Harkless is a projected late first-round pick who could have potentially played his way into the lottery by returning to school one more year, Rudd currently isn't expected to be drafted by any of the major services. The 6-foot-7 wing is hoping that averaging 14.8 points and 7.0 rebounds the final five games of South Florida's season will propel him onto the NBA's radar.

Rudd left open the possibility of returning to South Florida by not signing with an agent, but the NCAA's new draft deadline will force him to make the decision to return by mid-April. That appears unlikely considering the wording of his emailed statement to the Tampa Bay Times, which included thank yous for each of his coaches by name as well as his teammates who gave the Bulls their first NCAA tournament wins in the program's history.

[ Related: Ohio outlasts USF to reach Sweet 16 ]

"I had a blast and I am sorry we came up short," Rudd said in the email. "I will not be making any future comments on the matter and will begin training immediately in preparation for NBA workouts."

Rudd's size, rebounding and ability to finish at the rim could intrigue NBA scouts, but he would benefit from at least another year in college to help harness those tools. He averaged 9.3 points and 4.8 rebounds per game this season and his 30.6 percent 3-point shooting remains a major work in progress. 

If Rudd does not return to South Florida, the Bulls once again may have trouble scoring next season. Rudd and senior Augustus Gilchrist were South Florida's two leading scorers this season, though neither averaged double figures.

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