Weber State All-American Damian Lillard is NBA bound. Lillard announced Tuesday that he will forgo his senior season with the Wildcats and will enter the 2012 NBA Draft.
"I want to thank everyone that has helped me get to this point," Lillard said. "I have loved my time at Weber State and am looking forward to playing at the next level."
Lillard is projected by many as a lottery pick in this year’s draft. Weber State has had 15 players selected in the NBA Draft but has never had a first round pick. The Big Sky Conference has only produced two players, Michael Ray Richardson of Montana in 1978 and Rodney Stuckey of Eastern Washington in 2007, that were drafted in the first round. The last Wildcat selected in the NBA Draft was Shawn Campbell who was taken in the fifth round in 1985.
"I am extremely proud of Damian and couldn't be happier for him," said WSU head coach Randy Rahe who recruited Lillard to Weber State. "He is a terrific player but he's even a better person and has represented us so well. No one I have been associated has worked harder than he has and I couldn't be prouder for him."
Lillard is coming off perhaps the greatest individual season in Weber State history as he helped the Wildcats to a 25-7 overall record and a 14-2 record in Big Sky Conference play.
He was named to the Associated Press All-America third team and to the National Association of Basketball Coaches All-America third team, becoming the first player in Big Sky history to be named to an All-America team. He was also a finalist for the Bob Cousy Award, John Wooden Award, and Oscar Robertson Award.
Lillard was also named the Big Sky Conference MVP for the season and was named the District VIII Player of the Year.
The 6-3 point guard from Oakland led the nation in scoring for most of the season and finished second in the country with an average of 24.5 points per game, the best single-season average in Weber State history. He scored 784 points this season which is the most in Weber State single-season history and ranks as the third most in Big Sky Conference single-season history.
Lillard scored in double figures in all 32 games for the Wildcats this season and scored 20 or more points 22 times, 30 or more eight times, and has scored 40 or more points twice this season.
He caught the nation by storm after scoring 36 points in a game at Saint Mary’s in late November and then following that up with a career-high 41 points in a double-overtime win over San Jose State. He was named the National Player of the Week on Jan. 10 after scoring 68 points in leading the Wildcats to wins at Eastern Washington and Portland State. He was also named Big Sky Player of the Week five times this season.
He finished 12th in the nation in free throw percentage after shooting 88.7 percent for the season, the third best single-season percentage in Weber State history. He tied the single-season record for most free throws made with 228 and was fifth in attempts.
Lillard also finished 15th in the nation in three-pointers per game at 2.9 per game. He made 94 three-pointers this season, the most in WSU single-season history and the sixth most in Big Sky history. Lillard also finished third in the Big Sky in assist to turnover ratio, fourth in assists and sixth in steals.
Lillard was a part of the Wildcat program for the past four seasons and leaves as one of the top players in school history. In his career with the Wildcats he appeared in 103 career games and started 98 games. He finishes his career ranked second in WSU history in career scoring with 1,934 career points, which also ranks fifth in Big Sky history.
He leaves as Weber State’s career leader in three-pointers, with 246 for his career. He is also WSU’s career leader in free throws made with 520 and is second in WSU history in career assists with 362. He also ranks as Weber State’s career leader in free throw percentage at 86.7 percent, which is also sixth in Big Sky history.
Lillard joined Weber State in 2008 as a highly recruited prospect out of Oakland, California. As a freshman in 2008-09 he averaged 11.5 points per game and was a unanimous selection as the Big Sky’s Freshman of the Year and was named to the All-Conference first team. He helped lead the Wildcats to the 2009 Big Sky Championship.
As a sophomore in 2009-10 he established himself as a premier player in the Big Sky, leading the Wildcats to a repeat as conference champions. He led the Big Sky in scoring at 19.9 points per game and led the Wildcats to a 15-1 Big Sky record. He was named Big Sky MVP and earned honorable mention All-American honors.
As a junior in 2010-11 Lillard started the season strong once again, averaging 19.7 points per game. However, just nine games into the season he broke a bone in his foot that forced him to miss the remainder of the season. Because he had played in less than 30 percent of Weber State’s games he received a medical redshirt and had two years of eligibility entering the 2011-12 season. Lillard called the injury a “minor setback for a major comeback”. After an outstanding season he is now ready to make the next step to the NBA.