Arizona freshman Stanley Johnson declares for NBA Draft

Stanley Johnson was a critical piece for Arizona last season. (USATSI)

Arizona freshman wing Stanley Johnson announced Thursday evening at a press conference that he’ll leave school and enter his name into the 2015 NBA Draft.

“I put a hell of a lot of thought into coming back,” Johnson said at his press conference. “For me … it took a lot of thought, but at the end of the day, you’ve got to make the right decision. I put a lot of hard thought into it. For me to do what I have to do, I thought this was the best decision.”

Johnson was a five-star prospect who wound up averaging 13.8 points, 6.5 rebounds and 1.5 steals for Sean Miller’s team last season. Arizona wound up as a No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament, was the best team in the Pac-12 and reached a second consecutive Elite Eight. Johnson was the Pac-12 Freshman of the Year and certainly one of the five best freshmen in the country last season, though his play was more inconsistent in March than the four months prior.

“I have no doubt he’ll be a high pick and go on and have a career we’ll all be proud of,” Miller said Thursday.

Johnson said he does not have an agent yet. Still, he’s projected as a top-10 pick by many, and CBSSports.com draft expert Sam Vecenie slots Johnson as his seventh overall prospect. Johnson can play the 2 or the 3.

Arizona’s losses for next season include senior point guard T.J. McConnell in addition to Johnson’s fellow early entrants Brandon Ashley and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson.

Even with the loss of three underclassmen, the Wildcats are ranked No. 15 in our Ridiculously Early Top 25 (and one).

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