Tar Heels freshman center Day'Ron Sharpe declares for NBA draft

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- North Carolina freshman big man Day'Ron Sharpe is entering the NBA draft.

The 6-foot-11, 265-pound Sharpe, who is ranked No. 33 among ESPN's top 100 draft prospects, announced his decision in a social-media post Wednesday after averaging 9.5 points and 6.9 rebounds in 19.3 minutes per game off the bench.

"I feel that I'm now ready for the next level," Sharpe said in a statement. "I've made it this far and there's no reason for me to stop now!"

He has shown the ability to be a dominant rebounder with a good passing touch and a strong frame, a combination that has him widely viewed as a first-round prospect even as he's a still-developing talent.

The UNC basketball program's Twitter account also acknowledged Sharpe's decision, wishing him luck at the next level.

"I loved coaching him," coach Roy Williams said in a statement. "He has a tremendously high motor. He's naturally one of the greatest rebounders I've ever coached and a young man I truly just enjoyed."

Sharpe had a season-high 25 points in a January win against Notre Dame, followed by a season-best 16 rebounds in the next game against Miami.

The Greenville native led UNC in scoring five times this season.

"I think over the next few years if he gets even a little more disciplined, a little more focused, we are going to see an unbelievable player at the professional level," Williams said. "Just like I think he had a chance to be an unbelievable player here for us. I loved coaching him and will cheer for him forever."

His decision marks the second departure from North Carolina's deep front line this week. Seven-foot freshman Walker Kessler announced earlier that he plans to transfer.

The Tar Heels reached the NCAA tournament but lost last week to Wisconsin in a first-round blowout.

ESPN and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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