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Downey will test NBA

South Carolina guard Devan Downey, left,  takes the ball to the hoop as Georgia guard Terrance Woodbury (30) defend during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, March 7, 2009, in Athens, Ga. South Carolina won 68-51. (AP Photo/John Amis)
South Carolina guard Devan Downey, left, takes the ball to the hoop as Georgia guard Terrance Woodbury (30) defend during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, March 7, 2009, in Athens, Ga. South Carolina won 68-51. (AP Photo/John Amis)

Devan Downey made it official Tuesday: He will enter his name in the NBA draft, as expected, but will not hire an agent.

Now comes the uncertain part.

Downey is far from a sure draft pick, thanks mostly to his 5-foot-9 height. But the South Carolina point guard at least will explore his options during a series of workouts with NBA teams and a pre-draft camp in late May.

“I feel at this point in my career it is important for me to test the draft waters to see what the next logical step in my basketball career is,” Downey said. “I told coach (Darrin) Horn of my decision, and he has been very supportive throughout the entire process.”

Another Gamecock could test the waters. Forward Dominique Archie — like Downey a fourth-year-junior — is strongly considering it, according to sources. He also would not hire an agent but would use the process to gauge his stock and find out what he needs to work on.

Players who don’t sign with an agent have until 10 days before the June 25 draft to withdraw their names. It has become common for players to go through the process. Clemson’s K.C. Rivers did so last year before withdrawing, as did North Carolina’s Ty Lawson and Wayne Ellington.

Two other notable SEC players have made the same decision as Downey: Florida’s Nick Calathes and Kentucky’s Jodie Meeks.

“We support Devan’s decision to enter his name in the draft and evaluate himself against other potential draftees at workouts,” Horn said in a statement. “We will continue to work to gather accurate information in an effort to help Devan make the best decision for himself when the time comes.”

Downey twice has been named to the All-SEC first team. He ranked third in the league in scoring and first in steals each of the past two seasons. He was third in assists this season and second in 2007-08.

Several small players have had long careers in the NBA, the latest being New York’s 5-9 Nate Robinson. Downey is quick and has proven to have passing and shooting abilities, but he would need to show defensive consistency and prove his height will not be a detriment.

Chris Monter, a longtime draft analyst, said he could see Downey as a “change-of-pace” type point guard coming off the bench in the NBA. The question is whether Downey receives enough positive feedback to convince him to start his pro career early.

“If I’m a junior, I probably put my name in the draft anyway just because there’s no harm,” Monter said. “Worst-case scenario, you come back for your final year at South Carolina, find out what you need to improve on from NBA people and hopefully have a great senior season.”

Reach Emerson at (803) 771-8676.

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