GAINESVILLE — Marreese Speights declared for the NBA draft on April 8 but only recently began to clearly see his future.
He envisions it in the NBA.
Thursday, Speights informed Florida coach Billy Donovan that he will remain in the June 26 draft, opting not to return for his junior season.
"It was a hard decision, but we had a good conversation," Speights, 20, told the St. Petersburg Times. "Coach Donovan understood. He always said he wants what's best for me. I listened to what he said, and I feel like I'm in a good position."
The St. Petersburg native will sign with Andy Miller of ASM Sports, whose clients include Boston's Kevin Garnett and Detroit's Chauncey Billups. Speights averaged 14.5 points and 8.1 rebounds, and had 49 blocked shots last season.
"I completely support his decision," Donovan said in a statement. "I wish him nothing but the best of luck on June 26 and in the future."
Because new NBA rules don't allow players to have individual workouts with teams until after the predraft camp in late May, it wasn't until the past two weeks that Speights, who has worked out for seven teams, could make a definitive decision based on what he heard from team personnel.
"From the day he declared until the predraft camp, there was no concrete information gained," said Matt Ramker, his adviser and former AAU coach. "It took Marreese to go through these workouts, gain information from the teams and have them see him, to get all the information and decide this is what is best for Marreese. He knows he has an opportunity to help himself and his family to be set up the rest of their lives."
Several draft boards have Speights going in the latter first round; some list him ahead of Georgetown's Roy Hibbert. But Speights and Ramker insist the decision was based solely on what NBA general managers and personnel directors told them. Ramker said Speights impressed teams with his improved endurance and a perimeter game that is notable for a 6-foot-10, 245-pound center.
"I'm ready for a new challenge," Speights said.
Antonya English can be reached at email@example.com.