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Originally published April 11, 2005 at 12:00 AM | Page modified April 11, 2005 at 6:01 PM

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UW Men's Basketball

Nate Robinson says he'll enter NBA draft

"I know I'm ready to make the jump. It's been a dream to me ever since I was a young boy,'' Robinson said.

Seattle Times staff reporter

Washington guard Nate Robinson announced today that he will give up his final season of college eligibility and declare for the NBA draft, ending one of the most entertaining and pivotal careers in Husky basketball history.

"Deep down in my heart,'' he said, "I know the right decision is to skip my senior year and enter the NBA draft.

"I know I'm ready to make the jump. It's been a dream to me ever since I was a young boy.''

Robinson, who was named to the All-Pac 10 team each of the last two seasons and was a third-team Associated Press All-American this year, was the driving force as the Washington basketball program returned to prominence the last two seasons after four straight losing seasons from 2000-2003.

He said the decision to leave his teammates wasn't easy.

"It's tough because of what we did and what we still could do,'' he said. "The sky's the limit for the upcoming Huskies - they're going to be great.''

"But it's time for me to be a man, and move on to bigger things.''

Robinson was UW's leading scorer at 16.4 points per game this season as the Huskies set a school record with 29 wins and advanced to the Sweet 16. He was also named All-Pac-10 as a sophomore in 2004 when the Huskies advanced to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1999.

Robinson, a graduate of Rainier Beach High where he led the Vikings to the state title as a senior, had considered declaring for the NBA after last season, turning in a strong showing at the Chicago Pre-Draft Camp. However, he decided to return, in part because he felt the Huskies could advance to the Final Four.

But Robinson had hinted strongly all season that this was likely to be his last year. He recently became a father and has talked of needing now to "provide for my family.''

Robinson, who is listed at 5-9 but was measured at 5-7-3/4 at the Chicago camp last year, is generally considered an early second-round pick with a chance of moving into the late first round depending on his workouts. The Web site NBADraft.net projected Robinson as the 38th overall pick - No. 8 of the second round - to the Lakers in its most recent mock draft.

But regardless of his NBA career, Robinson will always be remembered at Washington as one of the most exciting Husky players of all time.

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He overcame his lack of height with a vertical leap of roughly 42 inches that allowed him to turn in one crowd-pleasing dunk after another.

A slam off a lob pass helped lead to a critical win over Arizona in the 2004 season as the Huskies began their remarkable turnaround.

Robinson also hit one of the biggest shots in UW's recent history, a 3-pointer with one second left that sent a game at Oregon State into overtime. UW, which was 0-5 in Pac-10 play at the time and 5-8 overall, had trailed by 16 points with under seven minutes left before the Robinson-led rally that beat the Beavers.

That win propelled the Huskies to one of the most amazing stretches of basketball in their history - they are 43-10 since then.

Robinson, the son of legendary UW running back Jacque Robinson, initially came to Washington on a football scholarship, and started at cornerback as a true freshman in 2002. But he then decided to concentrate on basketball.

Robinson might not be the only UW player to leave early - or not even arrive. Junior guard Brandon Roy and incoming freshman Martell Webster of Seattle Prep are also considering declaring for the draft.

Roy had indicated last week that he might make an announcement this week. But Roy told The Times that the decision was harder than he thought it would be and UW coaches have apparently told him to take his time. It's likely a decision may not come for another week or two.

Roy is apparently weighing whether to come back or declare but not hire an agent and then attend pre-draft camps and see what happens. He could then still return to UW. That's the same thing Robinson did a year ago.

Webster's NBA stock is thought to be rising after an impressive showing in the McDonald's All-American Game last week.

He could be further enticed to turn pro by the increasingly likely prospect that the NBA will institute a 20-year age minimum in its new collective bargaining agreement this summer. High school players this year wouldn't be affected. But if Webster were to skip the NBA this year and the age minimum imposed, he might then have to wait two years before turning pro, or perhaps even be required to spend a year in the NBA's developmental league first.

Underclassmen have until May 14 to declare and if they don't hire an agent, have until June 21 to pull their name out and return to school.

Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699 or bcondotta@seattletimes.com

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