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After Two Years Bibby Opts For NBA. . .
Even If There May (Will) Be A Lockout--(April 9,1998)

Well, Mike Bibby did it. Citing the fact that it's always been his dream to play in the NBA, and also saying that he's accomplished everything he set out to accomplish in college, University of Arizona All-American sophomore point guard Mike Bibby has declared himself eligible for this year's NBA Draft. He will forego his last two years of college eligibility.

In his two-year career at the UA, Bibby averaged 15.4 points, 5.5 assists, 3.1 rebounds and 2.4 steals per game, while helping direct the Wildcats to both the 1997 NCAA Championship and 1998 Pacific-10 Conference title. A consensus All-American this past season and third-leading vote getter in the John R. Wooden Player of the Year balloting, he was also tabbed as the 1998 Pac-10 Player of the Year and 1997 Pac-10 Freshman of the Year. Bibby, 19, closes his collegiate career at No. 25 on the Arizona all-time scoring chart with 1,061 points and his 377 assists are the 11th most in school history.

Bibby becomes the first Arizona player under Lute Olson who enrolled as a freshman to leave the school early for the NBA. Brian Williams left after his junior season in 1991, but he transferred to the UA from the University of Maryland after his freshman campaign with the Terrapins.

Bibby helped guide Arizona to a 30-5 mark in 1997-98, while averaging 17.2 ppg, 5.7 apg, 3.0 rpg and 2.4 spg. He scored 603 points on the season, a point total that is the 11th highest single-season mark in Wildcat basketball history. He also led Arizona is scoring 12 times, while recording the squad's high assist total in 20 of the Cats' 35 games. During his freshman year, he became the first true freshman to guide his team to the NCAA Championship and averaged 13.5 ppg, 3.2 rpg and 2.2 spg on the year. In addition to being named the Pac-10's Freshman of the Year, he was also selected as the national Freshman of the Year by Basketball Times and Basketball Weekly.

He had just nine career games in which he committed more turnovers than assists. His unflappable and consistent play helped the UA go 55-14 over the past two seasons, score in double figures in 56 of his 69 career games, while going for 20 or more points in 19 of those contests. He proved to a big-game performer, turning in a NCAA Tournament career scoring average of 17.9 ppg, while shooting 45.2% from the three-point line in his 10 NCAA outings (28-of-62).

"Winning a national championship like last year had always been a dream of mine and playing in the NBA has been a dream as well," Bibby said. "I have already fulfilled one of those dreams and now I am ready to go after another one. I think I am ready to make the step to the next level and I will continue to work as hard as I can to get ready for the league. Being at Arizona has been a great experience for me," Bibby added. "I have had great teammates and I have developed som,e friendships that will last a lifetime. This has been an experience I will never forget."

"This is a decision that we have been anticipating since prior to the time I visited with Mike and his mother (Virginia Bibby) last week in Los Angeles at the Wooden award ceremony," Arizona head coach Lute Olson said. "The only input that I wanted to have from my end was about the off-the-court difference in the NBA. I think that Mike is ready to go into the NBA -- there is no question about that. Mike is an outstanding young man," Olson said. "His mom did a great job of raising him and preparing him for high school, college and now the NBA. The great thing about Mike is that he is constantly working on his game. He will continue to only get better -- no matter how much money he has in his pockets."

The Swish Award
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