Now, Wade Baldwin IV has officially declared for the 2016 NBA Draft.
After careful consideration and discussion with my family and coaches I have decided to enter the 2016 NBA Draft #FEAR— Wade Baldwin IV (@The_Fourth_Wade) April 5, 2016
He elaborated on his decision in an official statement on VUCommodores.com.
After careful consideration and discussion of my options with my family and coaches, and soul-searching within myself, I have decided to part ways with one of the finest institutions in the world, a legendary gymnasium, a great group of teammates, and my dedicated coaching staff, and officially declare for the 2016 NBA Draft.
I want to thank Vanderbilt University for giving me the opportunity to do what I love on the court, and for providing me with a world class education. I intend to finish this semester at Vanderbilt.
I would like to express my sincere gratitude to Coach Stallings and the rest of the Vanderbilt coaching staff. Without your daily commitment to make our team the best it could possibly be, and to educate me to become a better player in every facet of the game, none of this would be possible.
Baldwin has been projected to go anywhere from No. 6 overall to the second round in mock drafts leading up to the June 23rd draft. With his stock rising and a talented class awaiting the 2017 draft, the sophomore point guard decided his best opportunity to lock down a first-round draft slot (and the guaranteed contract that goes with it) would be to forego his final two years of NCAA eligibility. He is the first underclassman (i.e. sophomore or younger) in program history to declare for the NBA Draft.
The sophomore's combination of defensive ability, court vision, and long-range shooting make him a strong fit for a league that's gravitating more and more towards "three-and-D" players. Baldwin made over 42 percent of his three-pointers in his two seasons at Vanderbilt. His 6'10 wingspan and strong frame also helped make him a lockdown defender on the perimeter.
He gave Vandy fans a fond farewell about an hour after his official announcement.
Baldwin's departure will leave a void in the Vanderbilt backcourt. He led the team in scoring (14.1 ppg), assists (5.2), and steals (1.2). Without him, new head coach Bryce Drew will have to turn to rising sophomore Riley LaChance and incoming freshman Clevon Brown to handle minutes at the point.
With Baldwin gone and Drew's hiring all but official, all eyes are now on junior center Damian Jones. Jones announced his intentions to declare for the NBA Draft back last fall, but a good-not-great season could have him rethinking that strategy. Even though he failed to have a breakout year, he still led Vanderbilt in both rebounds (6.9) and field goal percentage (59%) en route to a first-team All-SEC selection.