Blair declares for NBA Draft

By Mike Gladysz

Pitt center DeJuan Blair finally made old news official Wednesday, but most Pitt fans… Pitt center DeJuan Blair finally made old news official Wednesday, but most Pitt fans likely didn’t expect the hammer he threw down on them immediately after.

Blair announced his declaration for the NBA Draft, and while he hasn’t signed an official NBA agent yet, he made it clear that there’s no turning back.

Blair hired attorney and marketing representative James Cook to assist him in the process of hiring an official agent while marketing him to NBA teams and assisting with his needs in the upcoming weeks. By hiring a professional to guide him through the process, Blair exhausted his remaining two years of eligibility at the college level.

The 19-year-old center from the Hill District, who led Pitt to the Elite Eight and won numerous national awards this season, won’t ever step on the floor as a Pitt player again.

‘Now this smile is really going to be worth a million dollars,’ said Blair.

Blair said that he and his family met several times with Pitt coach Jamie Dixon, weighing all of his options and talking about his chances and opportunities in the NBA. What it came down to, said Blair, is that he and his family felt he’d done just about everything he could do at the college level.

‘I’ve done everything that an individual can do,’ said Blair. ‘I got all-American, all-Big East, conference player-of-the-year and first-team every team. I feel that if you have a year like that, you don’t need to come back.’

Blair said that as an ‘Internet-freak,’ he’s done research on all the mock-Draft boards and knows where many have projected him, which is basically eight-and-on in the first round. Blair said that he feels he’s a guaranteed first-round pick and is completely comfortable with the decision to make things official. He added that all of the information he’s gotten from general managers and scouts at the next level was positive.

‘I’ve got the skills for it,’ said Blair. ‘This is my dream. If it’s right there, why not go reach it?’

Cook, who runs The Cook Law Group in Downtown Pittsburgh, said that Blair signed the paperwork on Wednesday morning. Cook said he became the family lawyer two years ago after assisting a neighbor with a case and expects Blair to go anywhere from the eighth to 20th pick. If Blair does indeed go as the 20th overall selection, he’ll likely sign a first-year contract worth more than $1 million.

Dixon said he gave the best advice to Blair that he possibly could and thinks he’s got a great future in the NBA. Dixon smiled in support throughout the entire press conference, not showing any signs that he’s going to badly miss his star center.

Cook said that Dixon was hoping Blair would go two months without hiring an agent and possibly come back, but Blair went against his coach’s hopes.

Blair will take part in the NBA camps in Chicago and begin training hard next month in Florida. He said that no matter what, he’s confident in his decision and is excited about the upcoming months.

‘I’ve got Pittsburgh behind me,’ said Blair. ‘You can always get better…you can always get better and get paid.’