VALPARAISO | Brandon Wood has always been the type of player to take a big shot when the game is on the line.
The Valparaiso junior is taking perhaps his biggest shot after declaring for the NBA Draft on Wednesday morning. Wood will not retain an agent and has until May 8th to decide whether or not to return to the Crusaders.
"I'm definitely excited for this opportunity to really try and take advantage of a childhood dream that I've had since I first picked up a basketball," Wood said. "I'm just grateful and thankful to be in this position and I'm happy to be able to have this opportunity."
Wood averaged 16.7 points per game this season and earned First Team All-Horizon League honors as well as a spot on the All-Tournament team. Wood was named the Horizon League Newcomer of the Year after bursting on the scene last year by scoring double figures in 29 of 32 games. The Kokomo native scored 552 points this season and broke the 1,000 point barrier in just his second season with the Crusaders.
Wood will have little time to get a gauge on his draft stock after the NCAA adopted a rule last year stating that underclassmen needed to make their intentions known by May 8th to retain their collegiate eligibility. In the past, players didn't have to declare until the middle of June.
"Right now we're working on getting me to different workouts," Wood said. "I'm going to try to get to the local teams that are in driving distance."
Without the help of agent, and in order to maintain his eligibility at Valparaiso, Wood and his family will be paying for all of the workouts. While Wood is leaving the door open for a possible return to the Crusaders, he plans on going full bore into his NBA workouts.
"I'm trying to get as much feedback as I can," Wood said. "I'm going into these workouts like I'm trying to make a team. I'm not going into this half-heartedly."
Wood will be putting his name into the NBA Draft with the blessing of the Valparaiso coaching staff.
"Bryce and I met with Brandon and his parents and we think this is a wonderful situation to be in," Drew said. "Brandon has contacted the NBA office and put his letter in and now the NBA will send it out to all of the teams and the workouts will begin."
With his decision to test the waters, Wood has a number of options for next season. He could remain in the NBA Draft and turn professional or he could return to Valparaiso for his senior season. A third option could see Wood transfer to another Division I program for his senior year. Given that Wood is scheduled to graduate this May, there is an NCAA rule that would allow immediate eligibility if Wood wanted to enroll at a school that had a graduate program that was not offered at Valparaiso.
"I think the most important thing right now is to wait and see what happens with the NBA," Drew said. "We'll see where he fits in with the NBA and what he needs to improve on."