LAS CRUCES — Sim Bhullar made it official Friday, stating through New Mexico State that he will enter his name into the 2014 NBA draft.
“I want to thank my family, friends, coaches, and teammates for all their support during this decision making process,” Bhullar said in a statement released by the school. “Most importantly I want to thank all the Aggie fans who have followed and cheered us on. The support and love I received here has made my time in Las Cruces an amazing college experience. Aggie Up.”
Bhullar’s announcement wasn’t a surprise. The Las Cruces Sun-News had reported that the 7-foot-5 sophomore center from Toronto had been working out with former NBA player and coach John Lucas in Houston — largely in preparation for pre-draft workouts available to underclassmen beginning next month.
Bhullar averaged 10.2 points and 7.2 rebounds in 65 career games as an Aggie. He was named the MVP of both the 2013 and 2014 Western Athletic Conference tournaments, which New Mexico State won, and led the league in blocks (3.37 per game) and field-goal percentage (64.8). He set the single-game record for blocks (10) on Nov. 27 in a 91-60 win over Prairie View A&M.
Bhullar’s last game as an Aggie was impactful – a 14-point, seven-rebound, two-block performance in the NCAA Tournament in a 73-69 overtime loss to San Diego State in Spokane, Wash.
“We are 100 percent supportive of his decision to play professionally,” Aggies coach Marvin Menzies said. “He has had an unbelievable impact on this program, community and school in his short time here.”
The draft is June 26 and is two rounds, 30 players in each round.
Already as of Thursday, 30 underclassmen had declared for the draft, including New Mexico junior center Alex Kirk. The early entry eligibility deadline is Sunday. On Friday, Colorado junior point guard Spencer Dinwiddie and Michigan sophomore forward Mitch McGary also threw their names into the draft hat. McGary’s positive test for marijuana during the NCAA Tournament would have carried a one-year NCAA ban.
Kentucky freshmen twins Aaron and Andrew Harrison announced they will stay in school, citing “unfinished business” after the Wildcats lost in the NCAA championship game.
Draft projections generally have Bhullar as going undrafted, though one (DraftExpress.com) puts him in a range between No. 50 and undrafted.
The last Aggie to hear his name called in the draft was Randy Brown, selected No. 31 by the Sacramento Kings in 1991.
It is widely believed that Bhullar, should he make an NBA roster, would be the first player in the league of Indian descent.
Bhullar’s younger and smaller – 7-foot-3 – brother, Tanveer, was a redshirt this past season at NMSU.