New Mexico junior Alex Kirk has officially declared his intent to enter this year’s NBA draft, the school announced (Twitter link; hat tip to Jeff Goodman of ESPN.com). Jeff Borzello of CBSSports.com was the first to report the news. The center is No. 132 in the rankings that Chad Ford of ESPN.com compiles, and he’s on the list of the top 100 prospects that Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress puts together. Givony has him as the 28th best prospect among college juniors.
The decision is surprising, and while it’s possible that he could still withdraw between now and Tuesday’s deadline to do so, there’d be little reason for him to declare at this point and pull out so soon. Kirk averaged 13.3 points, 8.7 rebounds and 2.7 blocks per game for the Lobos, who lost their first game of the NCAA tournament to Stanford, a contest in which Kirk scored just three points before fouling out.
The 7-footer has struggled with back issues, as Ford points out, though he’s appeared in at least 32 games in each of his three college seasons. His signature performance this year was a 32-point, 11-rebound, five-block effort against Massachusetts, a fellow NCAA tournament team, Borzello notes.