James Young leaving Kentucky for NBA Draft

James Young was critical in Kentucky's run to the national title game. (USATSI)

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This one always seemed automatic. Kentucky freshman James Young is one-and-done at Kentucky, opting officially on Thursday to leave school after one year and pursue an NBA career.

“My time at Kentucky has been special to me, something I’ll always treasure, but I feel that I’m ready to take the next step to the NBA,” Young said in a statement. “I’ve learned more this year, on and off the court, about life from coach (John Calipari) and the staff and appreciate all of their guidance and support."

Young also thanked teammates and Kentucky fans.

Young's NBA prospects were good before signing at Kentucky, but in the preseason his stock rose especially high. During the 2013-14 UK campaign Young hit 82 3-pointers at a 42.6-percent clip. He averaged 14.3 points and 4.2 rebounds. He's projected 16th overall in CBSSports.com's latest mock.

“I’m excited for James and his family and the decision he’s come to,” Calipari said via press release. “From day one, the NBA people who came to our practices in the preseason raved about him. He’s done everything we’ve asked of him all season, investing himself in his brothers for the betterment of the team, and I think we all saw the end result in the tournament and Final Four."

The NBA Draft is June 26. Young is the only Kentucky freshman to declare for the NBA as of now. Sophomore Willie Cauley-Stein announced earlier this week that he would return for his junior season. Players have until the NBA's April 27 deadline to decide.

CBS Sports Writer

Matt Norlander is a national award-winning writer who has been with CBS Sports since 2010. He's in his seventh season covering college basketball for CBS, and also covers the NBA Draft, the Olympics and... Full Bio

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