April 13, 2010
Ekpe Udoh's NBA DRAFT ANNOUNCEMENT
APRIL 13, 2010
Baylor Power Forward Ekpe Udoh
"Thank y'all for coming. I mean this is a big day in our program.
It has been a great journey. This has been a great year. Starting on October 22nd when Coach Drew, Tweety Carter, Chris Yandle and I went to Media Day for the Big 12. We were picked 10th in the preseason in the league. Nobody thought of us.
"Starting out the season we won games and kept on winning games. People started changing their mind, but they didn't really believe in us. (We) kept on winning games and set the (Baylor) record for non-conference games. We became road warriors. I know that is something Baylor has never been thought of, but we accomplished that this year. (We) went 15-1 at home this year, made it to the Elite Eight. Nobody in here except for the players and coaching staff thought we could make it that far and we were three minutes away (from Indianapolis and the Final Four). This past year we have come from the bottom, from the dark . We raised our level to be contenders. The next step is for us to be champions. Hopefully, we can do that in the years coming.
"Throughout my life, I have never started at the top. It has always been a work in progress with me. I have always had to rely on hard work to get to where I am at; especially this year. After the Duke game, the focus was Coach (Scott) Drew and Ekpe (Udoh) needed to sit down and have a talk and we talked and we hugged and might have shed a tear, but we came to the conclusion that I put myself in the best position possible to reach my dreams, and today I am going to declare for the NBA Draft 2010, but I have not hired an agent."
"My time here was great. It was the best time of my life. I have got 13 new brothers. I got a coaching staff that I can ride with until I die. Coach Drew throughout this process has been a father to me. I want to thank him. I want to thank Coach (Paul) Mills, Coach (Jerome) Tang, Coach (Mark) Morefield, Coach (Tim) Maloney, Coach (Dwon) Clifton, (former assistant) coach (Stephen) Brough, (former assistant) coach (Matthew) Driscoll. I want to thank all my players. They have been here from the bottom and when all the lights were off and nobody can see the heart we had, so I want to thank them."
"I want to thank Baylor Nation. I think that is fitting for us now - for any sport when the fans get together. It is just green and gold everywhere. It has been great to play here. I am grateful and I am blessed every morning and now it is time for me to work hard to play on the best level possible."
On if he has hired an agent...
"No sir. I haven't met one that I am really comfortable with. I am just going to wait it out until I find that one. When I find that right one then I will sign the contract."
On the overriding factor that led him to his decision...
"Just praying. It has been in my heart. When you have a relationship with your head coach that is as strong as Coach Drew and I then he was all in and when he was all in, you know it is ready to go."
On if by not hiring an agent he could come back...
"I am all-in on going to the NBA. I am all-in."
On if he has looked at the mock drafts...
"I have seen them. Those are just people's opinions. All that matters is the general managers of the teams. I am every where on the board. Just like this year I am going to have to put in the work when the lights are off and nobody can see what you are really made of. Now I get my opportunity to go out and handle to my business."
On how his time at Baylor prepared him...
"Just coming here, I thank Tweety (Carter) for getting me here. Being able to play beside a great point guard that is a big component to a winning team. And the work we put it all of last year with my coaching staff. They have just been getting me ready for the position I am in now. Coach Drew called it last year. This is what he wanted to happen, so I am grateful."
On the difficulty of the decision...
"It was a tough decision, because I mean (we made the) Elite Eight. (We) were three minutes away from the Final Four and winning the Final Four in my opinion. We have brought something out of Waco and Baylor University that I don't think anyone has ever seen. The buzz on campus during our run was at an all-time high. Going forward with what Coach Drew has coming back next year is just going to keep raising that level. It was one of the best times of my life."
Head Coach Scott Drew
On the difficulty of the situation... "(I would) much rather have this kind of discussion than other discussions. Ekpe has meant so much to our program in the two years he has been here. (He has) just been a delight and privilege to coach. He has meant so much to our team, but if someone is going to come out early, you want them to do it the way Ekpe has done it. He has been very analytical. He has been very thoughtful. He has prayed about it and he has done it the right way. That is part of the reason he has not rushed to a decision, hasn't rushed to hire an agent, because he is going to think everything through and make sure he is going to make the right decision. It is part of what makes him a good basketball player as well - he is very intelligent."
On if it is a good news/bad news situation...
"We are optimistic people, so it is always good news. Our job as coaches is to help players to reach their goals and dreams. The big thing for us always is to make sure they have an opportunity to get guaranteed money. If they are in that position, then it is really there decision. Everybody goes to college so they have a chance to be successful in that first job and earn a good living. When you are able to get guaranteed money that is really your decision at that point. Our goal, for all our players, is to give them good options. Ekpe said it: he has options."
"He looked at it. He loves the guys on the team. He said this is the best thing for my family. This is the best thing for me. You just love him for the way he thinks things through."
On what Ekpe has meant to the program...
"The players could probably respond to that better because he has been like a big brother to a lot of them. He has been a great role model and influence to a lot of them. At the same time, he has prepared them to take over new leadership roles and bigger roles next year. Ekpe is one of those guys that will always going to be involved in the program. He could be 45 and I could see him on the sidelines yelling at the officials for us."