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April 10, 2013

Pressey going pro

Phil Pressey has played his final game at Missouri. The junior point guard announced his intentions to enter the NBA Draft on Wednesday morning. Pressey has signed with an agent, which means he cannot return to school.

"The plus side of it i get to go after my lifelong dream. I mean this is what I've been working for my whole life," Pressey said on a conference call Wednesday morning. "The bad side of it is I leave a school I've been here for three years and I've grown to know people outside of basketball. I have so many friends at this University outside of basketball. On the court I'm leaving a lot of teammates that I'm gonna miss and then the coaching staff, some of those guys have helped me grow as a man and grow as a basketball player and I appreciate that."

That coaching staff has been prepared for the possibility that this season would be Pressey's last as a Tiger for many months.

"You anticipate obviously knowing that this is a possibility from the beginning of the year," head coach Frank Haith said. "I think this is something Phil and his family really looked at strongly from the beginning of the year. We've been prepared about how we've gone about recruiting and knowing that this could happen."

Pressey averaged 11.9 points per game this year and led the SEC with seven assists per contest while being named first-team all-conference. He is the Mizzou record holder with 580 career assists, breaking Anthony Peeler's mark early in his junior season. He had six games with double-digit assists, including a school-record 19 in an overtime loss to UCLA. Pressey has the top two assist seasons in school history as well.

At the same time, he shot just 37.6% from the floor and 32.4% from three-point range. His assist-to-turnover ratio dropped from 2.62-1 as a sophomore to 2-1 as a junior. He also had late-game miscues and missed shots that cost the Tigers on a number of occasions.

"Obviously his speed definitely gives him a chance in that league right away, getting in the lane in an uptempo system I think he's gonna be very good. Phil is one of the best passers I've ever been around. He sees things happening that normal people don't see," Haith said. The coach continued that Pressey needs to improve "his ability to finish. When you're a little guy you've still got to be able to finish around the hoop and his ability to make jump shots."

Mock drafts vary on Pressey. Some have him as a second round pick, while others have him going undrafted. But those prognostications seemed to have little impact on Pressey's decision.

"I'm not the one drafting me. Guys can promise you where you're gonna go, what round you're going to go in, but you never know. You never know what a team needs," he said. "From that standpoint, I'm not sure, I've heard a lot of different things, but that's the last of my worries. I'm just worried about getting better and let that take care of itself."

Pressey will leave Columbia in the coming days and begin his preparation for the NBA Draft, which will be held on June 27th.

Haith said the Tigers could look at adding another ballhandler to this year's recruiting class to help junior transfer Jordan Clarkson and incoming freshman Wes Clark. The spring signing period opens next Wednesday, April 17th.

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