FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Arkansas sophomore basketball forward Olu Famutimi is leaving his name in the draft pool for next week’s NBA Draft, according to head coach Stan Heath.
Famutimi announced on May 14 he was making himself available for the draft, but did not sign with an agent, meaning he had until Tuesday’s 4 p.m. deadline to remove his name and maintain his college eligibility. By not removing his name, Famutimi forfeited the remainder of his collegiate eligibility and thus will not return to the Razorbacks. The draft is June 28 and includes two rounds with a total of 60 selections.
“Olu has decided to leave his name in,” Heath says. “He’s taking a chance, but we’ll see what happens. We expected him to be back next year and we’re disappointed, but we certainly wish him well. I hope the road he’s going down works out for him.”
Famutimi did not participate in the NBA Pre-Draft Camp in Chicago, but has taken part in several workouts, including one in Atlanta and with the Utah Jazz, Toronto Raptors, Los Angeles Clippers and Phoenix Suns.
A native of Toronto, Ontario, Famutimi had a solid 2005 season for the Razorbacks. He improved in all areas over his 2004 numbers with averages of 9.4 points, 4.2 rebounds, a .438 field goal percentage, a .393 three-point percentage and a .673 free throw mark. He also averaged 1.0 assist and 1.0 steal per game. He helped Arkansas improve from 12 wins in 2003 to an 18-12 mark this year.
He earned honorable mention freshman All-America honors from Rivals.com and SEC All-Freshman honors in 2004 by averaging 7.0 points and 3.5 rebounds, and shooting 36.3 percent overall, 23.5 percent on threes and 64.4 percent at the line.
“He was here last week and played open gym with the guys,” Heath says. “When we spoke, I was under the impression he was leaning towards coming back, but over the last two or three days, I could tell it was on his mind. It’s a major risk. I’m not getting any feedback (from the NBA), so I’m hopeful that whatever information he is getting is accurate.”
Famutimi moved to Flint, Mich., when he was in high school and averaged 23.0 points, 13.0 rebounds, 4.0 blocked shots, 3.0 assists and 2.0 steals as a junior at Northwestern High School. As a senior, he earned McDonald’s and Parade All-America honors after averaging 25.0 points, 14.0 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 3.0 steals per game in earning all-city and all-state honors.
In seven AAU tournaments prior to his senior season, he was named MVP three times.
During his senior season, he suffered a knee injury which limited his play his freshman season at Arkansas.
“I know we will still have a strong team,” Heath says. “My job is to get our team ready for next season. I’m sure his teammates will miss him, but since the decision has been made, it’s time to go forward.”
Despite the departure of Famutimi, Arkansas still returns four of five starters and seven lettermen from last year, including guards Ronnie Brewer (16.2 ppg), Eric Ferguson (8.8 ppg) and Dontell Jefferson (4.1 ppg), forwards Jonathon Modica (9.6 ppg) and Charles Thomas (5.5 ppg), and centers Darian Townes (10.2 ppg) and Steven Hill (2.3 ppg).
UA’s newcomers for next year are point guard Sean McCurdy, 6-6 junior shooting guard Ryan McBride and 6-9 forward Cyrus McGowan.
Last year, the Razorbacks lost signee Al Jefferson to the NBA. The 6-10, 265-pound forward from Prentiss, Miss., signed with Arkansas during the early signing period but never made it to Fayetteville. The Boston Celtics chose Jefferson with the 15th pick in the first round.
The most recent early entry from Arkansas to leave after actually playing for the Hogs is Phoenix Suns guard/forward Joe Johnson. The Little Rock native earned freshman All-America honors in 2000 after averaging 16.0 points and 5.7 rebounds and helping Arkansas win the Southeastern Conference Tournament. In 2000, he averaged 14.2 points and 6.4 rebounds in helping Arkansas reach the NCAA Tournament for the second time in his two years. Johnson was taken with the No. 10 pick in the first round of the 2001 NBA Draft, also by Boston, and traded to Phoenix during his rookie season.