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Friday, June 16, 2006
Updated: June 17, 3:47 PM ET
Villanova's Lowry to remain in NBA draft

Associated Press

PHILADELPHIA -- Kyle Lowry came to Villanova expecting to play all four years, graduate and move on to the NBA.

He went 1-for-3, skipping the first two steps along the way. Lowry believes he doesn't need two more seasons with the Wildcats to get ready for the NBA. The 6-foot guard doesn't need a diploma to know the smart decision was to build off the buzz now of a solid sophomore year.

"I thought it was time for me to take my game to the next level," Lowry said Saturday. "It's the level everyone wants to be at. I had the opportunity so I took it."

Lowry's decision to remain in the NBA draft and forgo his final two years of eligibility was not exactly a surprise for the Wildcats. Lowry's projected as a late-first, early-second round draft pick because of his unique ability to rebound and defend well on his speedy 6-foot frame.

"Kyle's game is perfect for the NBA," coach Jay Wright said. "Every player has something you can pick apart as a weakness. I think the strength of Kyle's game is he dictates how the game is played."

Lowry ranked third on the Wildcats in scoring (11 points per game) and rebounding (4.3) this season. He led the team in assists (3.7), and topped the Big East with 2.3 steals per game.

Lowry impressed his coaches and teammates with his toughness his freshman year when he returned from a torn ACL only three months after having surgery to repair his left knee.

The point guard sparkplug who plays like a mini Allen Iverson helped lead Villanova to a Big East co-championship and a return to national prominence as part of its unique four-guard lineup.

Now the Wildcats will try and build on their wildly successful season without Lowry, and guards Allan Ray and Randy Foye, also projected first- or second-round NBA draft picks.

Certainly, Lowry risked serious injury again if he returned, and that always seems to be one practice away on the Main Line anyway. But only first-round picks get guaranteed contracts in the NBA, leaving a slim chance Lowry might have to earn his way on a roster as a second-round pick.

"I'm mentally prepared for that to happen," he said.

While Wright supported Lowry's decision, he never expected his guard to bolt so early in his budding career.

"He never planned on this, he never talked about it," Wright said. "He always talked about being the best point guard he could be, the best player he could be."

But Lowry wowed NBA scouts and management with his speed and quickness at workouts in Orlando and the IMG Academy -- though his shot needs some improvement.

"I got better at the things I needed to work on," Lowry said. "I wasn't just testing the waters. I was going to go. The opportunity presented itself to go."