Well, we tried as hard as we could to convince ourselves that Austin Daye would return for his junior year but the son of former NBA star Darren Daye has decided to forgo his remaining two years of collegiate eligibility for a shot at the NBA. The news of Daye's departure recently came across the wire but it probably won't shock many people as he has been projected as a first round selection thanks to his tremendous upside.
Austin put himself into consideration for the NBA Draft after Gonzaga fell to North Carolina in the Sweet Sixteen and he has been a hot topic since then. Up to this point, Austin still has no guarantee by any team that they will select him in the first round but apparently he heard enough to remain in the draft. Daye's decision comes on the heels of fellow WCC star Patty Mills also electing to remain in the draft (per DraftExpress).
Everyone agrees that the best years of Daye's career are still many years ahead of him as his body still has plenty of maturing to do. While it would have been nice to see him at Gonzaga for another year, it is pretty easy to see why Daye made the leap this year. The back-half of the first round is as topsy-turvy as ever and Daye could go as high as 13th to the Pacers but many think he could fall out of the first round. While the latter is not likely to happen, that is the kind of offseason it has been for Austin. He's been beaten up on the court in some workouts and has been the star of others. Ten days now separates Austin from finally realizing his fate and seeing if his gamble paid off.
Mark Few confirmed the story to Jeff Goodman at FoxSports and it will be interesting to see where Gonzaga goes from here. Daye joins seniors Jeremy Pargo, Josh Heytvelt, and Micah Downs in the NBA Draft and his inclusion means that six players will be gone from last years team (including Andrew Sorenson and Ira Brown). Filling Austin's shoes will not be easy. Averaging nearly 13 points and 7 rebounds a game, Austin will likely be replaced by someone with zero collegiate experience. The guards are pretty much set but now the front line of Gonzaga is basically as young as humanly possible.
Andy Poling and Elias Harris: You better get ready.