Editor's note: Above video features opinion piece from KREM sports reporter and anchor Karthik Venkataraman about Hachimura and Brandon Clarke's ranking on AP All-American teams this year
SPOKANE, Wash. — Gonzaga forward Rui Hachimura will not return to play for the Bulldogs next season during what would have been his senior year. Instead, he is declaring for the NBA draft.
Hachimura is a potential top 10 pick for the draft.
Hachimura said he his last three years at Gonzaga have been “a dream come true” and he wants to pursue his next dream of playing in the NBA.
“This was a significant decision for my family and myself. I just want to thank everyone at Gonzaga, especially the coaching staff and all of my teammates who went to battle with me and are my brothers for life. My three years as a Zag were very special and something I will never forget,” Hachimura said in a statement posted to Twitter.
“I want to thank Zag nation and Spokane, Washington for all of the love and support, and to the people of Japan who have been there cheering me on the whole way. Forever a Zag,” Hachimura continued.
A news release from Gonzaga said Hachimura will hire an agent.
The Gonzaga men’s basketball team also wrote, “All the love. Thanks for the memories.”
On Friday, Hachimura received the Julius Erving Award at the ESPN College Basketball Awards Show. The annual honor in its fifth year recognizes the top small forward in Division 1 men’s college basketball.
The winner of the 2019 Small Forward of the Year Award was determined by a combination of fan votes and input from the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame's selection committee.
Hachimura was also tabbed the 2019 West Coast Conference Player of the Year and the USBWA District IX Player of the Year. He was named first team All-American by the NABC and the USBWA.
He averaged 19.7 points per game this season, shooting 59.1 percent from the field. The junior added 6.5 rebounds per game and finished with 27 blocks this season. He made 63.5 percent of his shots from the field in conference play, which ranked fourth in the league.
Hachimura scored in double-digits in 35 of the Zags' 37 games this season, reaching 20 or more points 21 times. He had four double-doubles in 2018-19. The Toyama, Japan, native scored a career-high 33 points against Idaho State.
This story will be updated.
GoZags.com contributed to this report.