With a stamp of approval from his coach and his mom, N.C. State junior Lorenzo Brown is headed to the NBA.
Brown, who led the ACC in assists, will skip his final college season and enter the NBA draft, Kim Banks, Brown's mother, said Thursday. Banks said she spoke with her son and Wolfpack coach Mark Gottfried on Wednesday.
"Coach said he's ready for the NBA," Banks said. See photos from Brown's career at N.C. State.
DraftExpress.com projects Brown, a 6-5 point guard, to be a late first-round pick.
Brown averaged 7.2 assists per game and was the first N.C. State player to lead the ACC in that category in 22 years. He also averaged 12.4 points and 4.3 rebounds in 33 games.
Brown missed three ACC games with an ankle injury. He turned his left ankle in the first half of a 58-55 loss at Virginia on Jan. 29. He missed the next two games, also both losses.
His two best games of the season coincided with N.C. State's two best wins: against Duke and North Carolina.
Brown had all 13 of N.C. State's assists in an 84-76 home win over Duke on Jan. 12, which prompted Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski to call him "magical" with the ball. Krzyzewski also said he was the best guard in transition in the country.
Brown was even better against UNC in a 91-83 home win on Jan. 26. He scored 20 points and finished with 11 assists to help the Wolfpack break a 13-game losing streak to the Tar Heels.
Brown also had his struggles this season. The two point guards rated ahead of him by DraftExpress.com, Oklahoma State's Marcus Smart and Michigan's Trey Burke, both got the best of him in November.
Smart had 20 points and seven assists in a 20-point Oklahoma State win and Burke had 18 points and 11 assists in a 79-72 Michigan win.
Brown's college career was delayed by a year after an academic problem with the NCAA. He ended up coming to State in the same class with point guard Ryan Harrow and forward C.J. Leslie in former coach Sidney Lowe's last season.
He played off the ball with Harrow on the point in 2010-11 but still led the team with 116 assists. When Mark Gottfried was hired, Harrow transferred to Kentucky and Brown moved to the point.
He averaged 12.7 points and 6.3 assists as a sophomore and helped N.C. State reach the Sweet 16.
"He has been through a lot," Banks said. "I'm really proud of him and the way he has stuck with everything."
Brown's the first N.C. State underclassman to leave early for the draft since J.J. Hickson in 2008. Leslie, a junior, is also expected to join Brown declare for the draft.
Before the season, and during, Gottfried said he expected to lose both Brown and Leslie. Freshman T.J. Warren is also considering jumping early to the draft. Warren's dad said earlier this week his son hasn't made a decision yet.
The NCAA and NBA have different withdrawal deadlines. The deadline for underclassmen to submit their names to an advisory committee for an evaluation is April 10. The NCAA deadline to come back to school is April 16, but the NBA allows underclassmen until April 28 to withdraw.