Tech's Jack to test draft waters

ATLANTA - On the day he declared for the NBA Draft, Georgia Tech junior point guard Jarrett Jack remained a student-athlete. After all, he had a biology exam immediately following his press conference.

The scene underscored the uncertainty in Jack's announcement Thursday at Alexander Memorial Coliseum. A projected first-round selection in next month's draft, Jack is still torn about his next step.

"If I was (sure), I would just come out and make a definite decision," Jack said.

Instead, following the advice of Tech head coach Paul Hewitt, Jack announced that he would enter his name in the draft, allowing him to work out for individual teams, but not hire an agent, thus allowing him to return to Tech.

"It's really 50-50," Jack said. "I'm really not leaning one way or the other. There's a lot of pros in staying and leaving."

The deadline for underclassmen to remain in the draft or pull their names is June 21, one week before the June 28th draft.

Between now and then, Jack will work out and interview with NBA teams and general managers. He will likely participate in the Chicago pre-draft camp, run by NBA personnel, June 7-10.

"I know he's going to absolutely impress them, both on the court and off the court," said Hewitt, who was surprised by Jack's ambivalence after the season.

In January, as Jack emerged as the team's best player, Hewitt figured his point guard would soon be off to the NBA. But two weeks after the Yellow Jackets' season ended, Jack told Hewitt that he still had not yet decided what to do. That's when Hewitt advised Jack to declare for the draft to gather as much information about his status as possible.

"He seems to be torn with the idea of giving up everything he enjoys about being in college with pursuing a life-long dream," Hewitt said.

Added Jack, "Everybody always talks about fulfilling your dream when you make it to the NBA level, but I really feel I'm living one right now."

Flanked by Hewitt and his mother, Louise, Jack said he would attend summer school at Tech regardless of his final decision. On pace to graduate next spring, Jack said he promised his mother he would earn that degree, one way or another.

"The thing about school is my piece," Louise Jack said. "That's my caveat. That he gets his degree and however he does that is fine, as long as he does it."

Hewitt, who has been working on Jack's behalf to gather information about his status, said NBA friends have raved about Jack's competitiveness, toughness and his steady improvement as a college player.

The knock of Jack is his quickness, a shortcoming he acknowledged he would have to overcome Thursday.

"No. 1 defensively that I'm able to stay with the quicker, smaller guards and being able to defend them off the bounce (dribble). That's probably the No. 1 concern that they may have or that I may have," said Jack.

But Jack also falls behind fellow underclassmen Chris Paul (Wake Forest), Deron Williams (Illinois) and Raymond Felton (North Carolina) on most draft charts. Next year, Jack would likely be the top point guard in the Atlantic Coast Conference and one of the nation's best if he remains in school.

"There's a lot of strong point guards out there," said Ryan Blake, the NBA's assistant director of scouting. NBA rules prohibit him from talking about underclassmen until after the May 14th deadline for underclassmen to enter the draft.

"One of the things you have to look out for when a player does declare is you have to gather as much information about the teams and their needs and the other prospects that are out there."

Jack, who is still bothered by an ankle injury he suffered in the ACC Tournament in March, is looking forward to testing himself against the other point guard prospects. But he said his decision would not be based on what others around the nation are doing.

"If I decide to stay in the draft, it's because it's the best thing for Jarrett," Jack said.

He just hasn't decided what that is - yet. Louise Jack said her son has called her often in the past few weeks, usually contradicting himself within a few minutes.

"Being a No. 1 draft pick, yeah, that's great. But if that's not the most important thing to him, if it is to stay here for another year because he keeps telling me how much he's enjoying college," Louise Jack said. "This is the one time I want him to step back and do what Jarrett really wants to do and we're going to support him either way."