UConn freshman Andre Drummond confirmed Friday that he's headed to the NBA.
Any drama of his formal announcement disappeared on Thursday when word of his departure leaked out of Storrs.
Drummond, an athletic 6-foot-10 center from Middletown, is projected to be a top five lottery pick in the 2012 NBA draft, which takes place June 28 at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J.
"My family and I feel that this is the right time for me to take the next step in my basketball career," Drummond said in a release. "It has always been a goal of mine to compete against the world's best players and that is one of the big factors for me in making this decision.
"Although I was only at UConn for one year, the experience I gained playing against the best competition at the college level greatly helped me prepare for what I will face as I pursue a career as a professional."
Drummond, the first UConn player to turn pro after his freshman year, averaged 10 points and led the team in rebounds (7.6) and blocks (2.7) last season. With 10 double-doubles, he set a UConn freshman record under coach Jim Calhoun.
"Andre is a developing player with unlimited potential and his projected position in the draft is as good as almost any player I've ever had," Calhoun said. "Very few players get such a tremendous opportunity, and he's got to take advantage of it."
Drummond thanked the coaching staff and his teammates for helping to improve his game. He committed to UConn last August after playing two years at St. Thomas More in Oakdale.
"I truly enjoyed my whole college experience and I hope to return in the future to earn my degree," Drummond said. "As a kid from Connecticut, playing basketball at UConn in front of hometown fans for me was a dream come true."
Drummond will leave as the most famous walk-on in the program's history. He gave up his scholarship to teammate Michael Bradley last fall.
Bradley, a 6-10 redshirt freshman forward/center from Chattanooga, Tenn., also is leaving the program, but without ever appearing in a game. He asked UConn for a release from his scholarship and the school granted him his wish.
His departure leaves the Huskies with only one player over 6-9 on the roster, and that is rarely-used reserve Enosch Wolf, a 7-1 sophomore center.
• In other news, Missouri announced Friday that now former UConn forward Alex Oriakhi will transfer there. Oriakhi and Missouri guard Phil Pressey were AAU teammates on the Boston Amateur Basketball Club.
"We're very excited to add a talented and proven player like Alex to our program," said Missouri coach Frank Haith said in a story on the school's website.