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Monday, June 15, 2009
Several use every last hour to decide

By Andy Katz
ESPN.com

Austin Daye was looking for a first-round guarantee. He still doesn't have one, but the Gonzaga sophomore forward is willing to take the risk by staying in the draft.

Gonzaga coach Mark Few said Monday that he spoke with Daye just 40 minutes before the 5 p.m. EDT deadline to withdraw and Daye told him he wasn't returning to school.

Austin Daye
Austin Daye scored 10 points in each of Gonzaga's three 2009 NCAA tournament games.

Daye worked out Monday morning with the Knicks, which are unlikely to select him since New York has the No. 8 pick. Daye has also worked out for New Jersey (11), Charlotte (12), Phoenix (14) and Detroit (15).

The 6-10 Daye is considered one of the most skilled players in the draft, but questions about his toughness and ability to take the pounding of the NBA have dogged him throughout the draft process. His father, Darren, played in the NBA for the Boston Celtics.

"I know they're trying to get me back to help them," Daye said of the process last week. "It's a different position for me. It's about long term. It's not just about me playing my junior year. It's about playing in the NBA, maybe getting to my second contract younger. All of these things come into play."

Losing Daye is a hit for Gonzaga, which already was losing seniors Jeremy Pargo, Josh Heytvelt and Micah Downs. But Gonzaga does bring back guards Matt Bouldin, Steven Gray and Demetri Goodson, of which contributed mightily to the Zags' West Coast title team its first-round win over Western Kentucky in the NCAA tournament. Few said he expects a collection of players, including small forward Kelly Olynyk out of Canada, to spell some of Daye's minutes and frontcourt scoring.

What are some of the other big decisions that have been made in the last few days? Here's the latest …

Jeff Teague, So., Wake Forest: Teague is projected to be a first-round pick and could definitely be in play for Atlanta at No. 19. Teague can't get a read on a lock higher than that, but he nevertheless confirmed on Monday that he is remaining in the draft. While Wake was holding out hope Teague might return, the consensus within the league is that he made the right call. He averaged 18.8 ppg last season and shot 44.1 percent from the 3-point line.

Gani Lawal, So., Georgia Tech: Two weeks ago at the NBA draft combine in Chicago, Lawal sounded like someone who was unsure whether he would stay in the draft or return to Atlanta. He is now sure. On Sunday, Lawal told ESPN.com he would be returning to a Yellow Jackets squad that suddenly has the look of a tournament team.

Patty Mills, So., Saint Mary's: SMC coach Randy Bennett held out hope throughout the weekend that Mills would look at the dearth of point guards in the draft and decide to return to Moraga for his junior season. That didn't happen. Bennett waited until the final minutes of the deadline Monday afternoon before finally getting word that his Australian star was staying in the draft.

Damion James
With Damion James deciding to return, many prognosticators likely will place Texas in the top 5 nationally to start the season.

Greivis Vasquez, Jr., Maryland: A number of teams contacted by ESPN.com said Vasquez would've been a strong second-round selection this year, with the potential of being a solid first-round pick in 2010. On Monday, Vasquez decided on the latter. The native Venezuelan averaged 17.5 ppg last season for a Terps team that advanced to the second round of the NCAA tournament. Maryland returns essentially everyone from that squad.

Luke Harangody, Jr., Notre Dame: With his down-to-the-wire decision to return to school, Harangody has a chance to be a Tyler Hansbrough-like icon at Notre Dame by becoming the all-time leading scorer and rebounder. Although he received plenty of positive reviews over the past couple months and was a virtual lock to get drafted, the one-time Big East player of the year couldn't get a first-round guarantee.

Jodie Meeks, Jr., Kentucky: John Calipari was confident last week that Meeks would return to UK's Dream Team, but the prolific scorer pulled a mild surprise Monday morning by staying in the draft. Meeks likely won't get into the first round, but he almost assuredly will be drafted at some point in the second. The Wildcats will still be expected to contend for the national title and will be preseason No. 1 in many circles, but the loss of a veteran on such a young team does hurt. Meeks led the SEC with 23.7 ppg last season and set a school record with 54 points at Tennessee.

Jrue Holiday, Fr., UCLA: Technically Holiday hasn't signed with an agent. But no one -- I repeat, no one -- within the NBA or even at UCLA believed that Holiday was going back to school. He is a lock for the lottery. On Saturday, those expectations were confirmed, as coach Ben Howland announced Holiday had decided to remain in the draft.

Taj Gibson, Jr., USC: Gibson took a lot longer than most figured he would, but he ended up signing with an agent in the end. You had to figure his age (24) and the current turmoil at USC played a large part in his final decisions. Gibson has also looked good in workouts and has a real chance to sneak into the first round.

Devan Downey, Jr., South Carolina: Downey, the team's leading scorer, had a workout in Milwaukee on Thursday, but on Saturday, South Carolina coach Darrin Horn told ESPN.com that Downey had sent in the paperwork to the NBA to announce he was withdrawing his name from the draft.

Osiris Eldridge, Jr., Illinois State: Eldridge, the Missouri Valley Conference player of the year, withdrew his name from the draft this weekend and will be back for his senior year. He's talented, but not a first-round pick. The 6-3 guard had worked out for several teams in Chicago and had a workout with the Portland Trailblazers.

Donald Sloan, Bryan Davis and Chinemelu Elonu, Jrs., Texas A&M: Sloan and Davis have already told Texas A&M coach Mark Turgeon that they will return to school. But Elonu continued to work out for teams until the very end and told Turgeon on Monday that he was staying in the draft. The junior averaged 9.8 ppg and a team-leading 7.3 rpg last season.

Ater Majok, Fr., Connecticut: Majok worked out in front of 21 teams, and there was no consensus that he would be drafted. Financial considerations influenced him to give it a shot, but UConn announced Monday afternoon that Majok had withdrawn his name from the draft pool. Majok, who grew up in the Sudan and has lived in Egypt and Australia, should look to follow the three-year Hasheem Thabeet Connecticut path. If he does that, then he could be a player who enters the NBA with the potential to contribute, not just someone who has potential.

Andy Katz is a senior writer for ESPN.com.