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Jarrett Jack to Make Himself Available for NBA Draft but Keep NCAA Eligibility Options Open

May 5, 2005

Georgia Tech junior guard Jarrett Jack announced Thursday that he will make himself available for the upcoming NBA draft, but will not retain an agent in order to maintain his collegiate eligibility.

With his decision, the 6-3 point guard is allowed under NCAA rules to consult directly with NBA team and league officials, undergo workouts for NBA personnel and attend the association’s pre-draft camp at his own expense. Jack has until June 21, a week before the draft, to remove himself from consideration without jeopardizing his eligibility for his senior year.

Jack, a native of Fort Washington, Md., has completed three seasons at Georgia Tech, playing in 101 games and starting all but one of those. He has led the Yellow Jackets to three post-season appearances, including the NCAA Tournament each of the last two years and a trip to the Final Four in 2004. Tech’s record during his career has been 64-37.

Last season, Jack earned second-team all-Atlantic Coast Conference honors and was named an honorable mention All-American by the Associated Press. He led Tech in scoring at 15.5 points a game while also averaging 4.5 assists and 4.8 rebounds per game. He shot 44.2 percent from three-point range, which would have been the top figure in the ACC had he met the league’s minimum for three-pointers made. He ranked fourth in the ACC in overall field goal percentage (51.4) and third in free throw percentage (86.6).

For his career, Jack ranks 26th at Tech in career points (1,265) and fifth in career assists (543), and he is just the sixth Tech player ever to score 1,000 points and accumulate 500 assists.

PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT

Opening Statement from head coach Paul Hewitt
I would like to thank everybody for being here. [Jarrett Jack] is going to read a brief statement and take some questions. He does have a final exam to take later today so we are going to try to make this as brief as possible while still giving you guys time to ask questions.

Opening Statement from Jarrett Jack
After consulting with my parents, Coach John Lewis and Coach Hewitt, I have decided to enter my name in the 2005 NBA draft, however, I will not retain an agent at this time. By entering my name it will allow me to get more information on my draft status. I will be attending classes at Georgia Tech this summer and I am on schedule to graduate next spring if I choose to return for my senior year. I realize that I am in a very fortunate position. When talking to my parents and coaches, I do not think that I could make a poor decision. Over the next few weeks I will be working out and interviewing with teams that wish to meet with me. Upon completion of those workouts and interviews I will have enough information to make my final decision.

What are the chances of you coming back to Georgia Tech?
Jack: It’s really fifty-fifty. I am not leaning one way or the other. There are a lot of pros to staying or leaving. That is just something that I am going to have to pray long and hard about, and when I make my decision make sure I am a hundred percent behind it.

Did you speak with Chris Bosh about any of this?
Jack: Yeah, I did. It was something that I didn’t understand how the decision could be so hard for him. He told me that when it came time for me to make my decision I was going to feel the same way he did. He has just been telling me that I will know in my heart when the time is right and I will make the best decision.

Is there a criteria for leaving? Such as top-10? Top-15?
Hewitt: I’ll answer that question. One of the reasons we have advised Jarrett to put his name in is you can go by the criteria that there is a team out there that really fits you and might be a team to start your professional career with. That is why I think it is in his best interest to talk to some of the teams. You hear so much speculation of where he is going to go and who wants him, but really until you talk to the person who is actually doing the picking himself, you really don’t know. It’s all speculation.

What is your speculation Coach Hewitt?
Hewitt: I think he is one of the best point guards in the country. I have said that all along. He seems to be torn, and you can ask his mom this question, but he seems to be torn between giving up everything he enjoys about being in college with also pursuing a lifelong dream. That’s what is more about. I don’t think it’s a position thing for him. We have tried to do is tell him is this is a professional decision you are trying to make and make it based on facts that can really influence your future. I think he is genuinely torn. You can speak to Jarrett. He loves being around the college game and he loves being around Atlanta too. His mom and I have talked long and hard about it, but that’s what we think is the best way to go about it.

Jarrett, can you talk about being in college and the pros and cons of being in the NBA?
Jack: Everyone always talks about fulfilling their dream when they make it to the NBA level, but I really feel that I am living one right now. I think that every kid dreams of playing in the ACC if you live on the east coast. It is a very basketball rich conference. It is just something that I always love to do. I’m just not sure if I am ready to leave yet.

If you had won a national championship two years ago, would this decision be as tough as it is now?
Jack: I think that even if we would have won the championship, that would have given me extra incentive to come back and win another one.

Can you speak as a parent about what it has been like the past few weeks with calls from NBA teams and potential agents?
Louise Jack: Well, my husband and I have tried to keep that focus on us and not Jarrett. He is very serious about his academics and very serious about his finals that he is taking right now. He asked us to just keep that from him and we have been trying to do that from a parenting standpoint. We have asked, and most of them have complied with our request, to leave him alone at this point and allow him to be a student-athlete, which he is right now, and if and when that time comes we will deal with those persons appropriately.

I’m not sure if you will reveal it, but where would you like to play?
Jack: Anywhere. I don’t have any preferences or anything. Any team that would take me, I would love to play for.

How about the Hawks?
Jack: It would be a great feeling putting on any NBA teams’ jersey if I decide to go that route.

Coach Hewitt, what are some of the scouts telling you about Jarrett and his potential?
Hewitt: They love his competitiveness. They all have commented on how he has gotten better. They are in a tricky position when they talk to me, because they aren’t supposed to disclose some of their thoughts until he is officially in the draft. That’s why I have told him, get in front of those guys, interview with them, work out for them. I know he is going to impress them. I know he is going to absolutely impress them, both on and off the court. Everyone I have talked to has said that if he decides to stay in the draft, he is going to go in the first round. There is not a question about that. I can’t reveal who I have talked to, and there has maybe been one team that has said they could see where he might drop to the second round, but all the other teams I have talked to, the consensus has been that he is solid in the first round. Now, where? Who knows? That is one of the things I said to him. I said try not to get caught up in it. It may sound like I am doing myself a disservice, but try not to get caught up in a certain range. Try to look at it like, you are looking at an entry level job, and which company can help you best start a long, prosperous career.

Will you be doing a lot more talking now?
Hewitt: No. I think it’s up to him to talk to those guys now. I really do. It’s one thing when I relay the information. Now he can eliminate the middleman. He is going to talk to his parents and he will probably ask me some questions about it, but he has to do what he thinks is in his heart.

Do you have a list of teams that you are going to workout for? Are you going to go the Chicago Pre-Draft Camp?
Jack: Me and coach really haven’t sat down to talk about that stuff yet. I have heard rumors about teams that like me or teams that would be interested in having me work out for them. I am basically just ready to gather as much information as possible and just take it from there.

Do you have a range that you would like to be picked in? If you are not in the top-20 or something like that, would you come back to school?
Jack: Basically, like Coach Hewitt said, I am not interested in ranges. I just want to go in there and see. If I do decided to stay in the draft and I get in there and feel that it is the best thing for Jarrett Jack, then that is what I am going to do. I think this is one of those times that I can be a little bit selfish and basically do what is best for me.

Is this your last final today or do you have one tomorrow?
Jack: Last one. Thank the Lord.
Hewitt: Spoken like a true college student.
Jack: Last one. Biology, so it is no pushover.

Are you definitely taking classes this summer or if you decide to stay in the draft, will you drop those classes?
Jack: Definitely (taking classes). This lady beside me is very strong towards the academic end. My academic advisor is here at the press conference and we are definitely going to make sure I am going to do what I need to do on the academic side of things.
Hewitt: I often would use his mom as a threat. I would tell Jarrett I was going to call her and he would always be like, don’t call her coach. Just the threat does wonders.

You are a basketball historian, not just a player, and you have let it be known that you wouldn’t mind seeing your jersey hanging in the rafters. Summer school or not, would there be a scenario where you would get your degree so your jersey may be retired one day?
Jack: Definitely. Like I said before this lady sitting next to me is tough. That was a promise that she and I made. Growing up when we used to talk about scenarios about me possibly having to leave college early, she wasn’t really for it. After I broke down some of the specifics and a lot of the financial aspects, she kind of leaned in my favor, but I always promised her I would go back and get my degree.

There are a lot of players entering the draft right out of high school. Can you comment on what you think they are missing by not going to college?
Jack: The maturity factor is definitely something they are going to miss out on, but there are different situations for different people. Some people have family situations that they need to take care of. Some just feel like it is their time. As for me, my college experience has been great. Off the court, just being around a great group of teammates, it is a great college atmosphere. On the court, I couldn’t ask for better teammates or a better coaching staff, which helped me flourish and become the player I am.

In your point of view, should there be an age limit to enter the NBA?
Jack: I am not really the one to speak on that. If there is a kid who is 18 and they tell him that he is going to be a top-five pick in the draft. You come to college to basically find out what you are going to do for a living. If at 18 they can tell him that for the next three or four years that he is going to be making `X’ amount of dollars in the NBA, then I think that is something he should be able to do.

With several other point guards entering the draft, did that factor into your decision?
Jack: If I decide to stay in this draft, it is because it is the best thing for Jarrett. It is not going to be because six point guards are already in the draft, or seven or whatever the case may be. I am going to go in there and play as hard as I can and compete. Hopefully, I will get a chance to compete against them and prove that I am capable of being the same floor general that they are.

Coach Hewitt, is it hard not to be selfish at this time and wish that he would come back?
Hewitt: As I have said a while back, he has already saved me. If he decides to leave, I am still going to be here. You are proud when you have a situation like this. He is on schedule to graduate, but if he chooses to, he can go out and earn a terrific living. That’s what these kids come to school for. I have never been one to say they come to school to help the Georgia Tech name to be a great name in college basketball or to tack wins up by my name. I tell them this during the recruiting process, if you come to school and help us win games and have nothing else to show for it only the coaching staff and the school benefits. I am happy that if he chooses to come back to school it is because he wants to. I am happy if he decides to go and earn a terrific living if that’s what he wants to do. Just because of the fact that we are sitting here shows that our program is a success. It shows that have been successful.

Is it fair to say that even though you are announcing this today, you are still not sure of what you will do?
Jack: If I was, then I would come right out and say that I am making a definite decision. We all know about the deadline that I have to meet. I tried to wait as long as possible. Coach Hewitt said the best option to me would be to go out and test the waters. He thought I really owed it to myself to gather the best information possible to help me in my decision.

Are you giving yourself a deadline before the June 21 to remove your name from the list or will you wait until June 21?
Jack: Knowing me probably [wait until the last minute]. 11:58 or something. Basically, I am just ready to get to these workouts and interview with the teams, let them get a good feel for me. Hopefully, I will get back a lot of positive news and see where I go from there.

Are there any limitations with your ankle at the moment?
Jack: It is a lot stronger than what it was a month ago. Just continuous and constant rehab and getting it healthier each day is my main concern.

What do you think you need to show these teams?
Jack: I think number one, defensively, I need to show them I can stay with the quicker smaller guards and be able to defend them off the bounce. That is the main concern that I may have or they may have.

Is it going to be hard to pull your name out of the NBA draft since this is something you have always wanted? Jack: The thing that I have always told people when they asked me this is, the NBA isn’t going anywhere. It is going to be around for a long time. If I have to I will come back next year and try to elevate my draft status even higher. It is basically a win-win situation for me. If I can stay here and have another great season under Coach Paul Hewitt, lead Georgia Tech to another winning season, and get my degree and whatever other benefits I may reap by staying here, it is just going to be something I am going to enjoy.

Are you taking into consideration what you may be able to accomplish at Georgia Tech next year? Jack: Definitely. I think we have a great nucleus of young players. Guys like Ra’Sean Dickey, Anthony Morrow and Jeremis Smith and also a great recruiting class headed by Lewis Clinch, a guy who is definitely going to be a great player in the ACC.

Are you more anxious, nervous, feeling good about it, losing sleep over this or what? Jack: All of the above. At one point or another, all of those options have come into play.
Hewitt: He started worrying her to death, which made me start to worry to death. I tried not to talk to him after Nashville, and then his mom finally called and asked me to please talk to him.
Jack: It is just something I have been tossing and turning over. The best thing people have said has been to pray on it. If I do that and think long and hard about it and try not to stress about it and enjoy this time that I am going through. It is something I have been thinking about all of my life and now that it is here I am just trying to enjoy the moment.

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