ATLANTA — To the surprise of no one, Derrick Favors is leaving Georgia Tech after only one season to enter the NBA draft.
The 6-foot-10 freshman forward is projected by most services as a top-five pick. Even when he signed with the Yellow Jackets, most fans and media figured he'd be one and done.
"It was a good experience," Favors said. "I got to meet a lot of people, I got to experience the college life and playing in the ACC and playing in the (NCAA) tournament and playing for the ACC championship. So it was a good experience."
Favors said he has not hired an agent and is "leaving it open" to returning to Georgia Tech. No one, including Georgia Tech coach Paul Hewitt, expects that will happen.
Hewitt does believe that Favors' one year at Georgia Tech helped prepare him prepare for the NBA.
"Everything from getting adjusted to physical play, to understanding what he's got to do in the weight room, how to take care of his body, learning things about the game that you just didn't have to know in high school," Hewitt said. "It definitely helped him."
"He did a tremendous job for us this year and was a big part of our success," Hewitt said. "I'm confident he will be successful at the next level."
Favors becomes the team's second key player to leave school early, following junior forward Gani Lawal. The duo helped Georgia Tech reach the Atlantic Coast Conference championship game and second round of the NCAA tournament, and their early departures leave a big hole in the frontcourt for the 2010-11 season.
Hewitt held out two frontcourt players as redshirts this season, Daniel Miller and Kammeon Holsey. Hewitt hopes to add more size in the spring signing period, which starts Wednesday.
One possible new recruit emerged this week when Westlake's Marcus Thornton requested his release from his Clemson letter-of-intent after Oliver Purnell left Clemson to become DePaul's coach.
The 6-7 Thornton was named Mr. Georgia Basketball by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution after averaging 24 points and 12 rebounds and leading Westlake to the state championship game.
Favors, an Atlanta native, was named ACC rookie of the year after ranking second on the team in scoring (12.4 points a game) and rebounds (8.4).
"I've enjoyed my time at Georgia Tech and feel my year here has helped my development as a player," Favors said. "I'm glad we were able to get to the NCAA tournament and got a chance to play for the ACC championship."
Favors is Georgia Tech's fifth player to enter the draft after one season, following Stephon Marbury, Chris Bosh, Javaris Crittenton and Thaddeus Young.