Arkansas' Powell announces decision to bypass final year, enter NBA draft

Arkansas forward Marshawn Powell wasted little time in making the decision to bypass his final season of eligibility and enter the NBA draft.

Powell announced his decision on Twitter on Tuesday, and Razorbacks coach Mike Anderson confirmed it later in a statement through the university.

The 6-foot-7 junior just completed his fourth season at Arkansas, finishing second on the team with an average of 14.5 points per game. He returned after missing all but two games last season with a torn ACL in his right knee.

"I wish Marshawn all the best as he moves on to the next stage of his basketball career," Anderson said. "... I feel that his best basketball is in front of him."

Arkansas was 19-13 this season, missing the NCAA tournament for the fifth straight season.

Anderson wouldn't speculate last week in a season-ending news conference about whether Powell, or sophomore BJ Young, would leave school early. The second-year coach said he would meet with both, as well as the other members of the Razorbacks, following the Final Four.

Powell, however, appeared to have already made up his mind about turning professional — despite pleas from Arkansas students during the school's home finale to return to one more season.

His Twitter post Tuesday afternoon caught the Razorbacks off guard and led to a phone call from Anderson to confirm the decision. Powell, who turned 23 in January, tweeted "thank God (for) being in this position."

The Newport News, Va., native burst onto the Southeastern Conference scene as a freshman during the 2009-10 season, averaging 14.9 points and 6.7 rebounds per game. He was a unanimous selection to the league's All-Freshman team.

Powell slumped as a sophomore, averaging 10.8 points per game while working his way back from an offseason broken foot, but he appeared primed for a return to form entering his third season prior to the 2011-12 season — his first under Anderson.

He averaged 19.5 points in his first two games — shooting 71.4 percent — and appeared in the best shape of his career, but his season came to a sudden end following a knee injury suffered in practice.

Powell returned to the court in August when Arkansas took part in a 10-day preseason trip to Italy that included games against professional teams from Lithuania and the host country. He scored 10 points in one game on the trip and scored a career-high 33 points in a win over Oklahoma on Dec. 4.

Powell shot 48.7 percent from the field this season, including a career-best 34.6 percent on 3-pointers. He had 13 points in the Razorbacks' opening-round loss to Vanderbilt in the SEC tournament, a game that appears to be his final one at Arkansas.

He's the fifth Arkansas player to finish with more than 1,000 points, 450 rebounds, 75 blocks and 100 assists — averaging 13.6 and 5.6 rebounds per game over his career.