Charlie Villanueva

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Rule Change Should Push Villanueva Closer To Illini

Chicago Hoops
February 10, 2003

A rule change that will allow 17-year olds to enter the NBA draft could be a clinching factor for Charlie Villanueva to attend Illinois rather than to declare for the NBA draft.

The NBA, and the players union, have agreed to allow players who turn 17-years of age by the early-entry declaration date, to enter the draft. Previously, players had to be 18-years of age.

The ruling will allow Yugoslavia’s Darko Milicic, and Sofoklis Schortsianitis of Greece, a pair of 17-year olds, to enter this year’s draft. Both players are expected to be lottery selections

Milicic is a 7-0 small forward who has a number of point guard skills. Meanwhile Schortsianitis is a bruising 6-10 center whose game has been likened to that of Shaquille O’Neal.

Villanueva, a 6-10, 215-pound forward from New Jersey, has openly flirted with the idea of heading straight to the NBA out of high school. He previously stated that he would declare for the draft if he was a certain Top 15 pick. The entry of Milicic and Schortsianitis further clouds Villanueva’s chances of going high in the draft.

Akron, Ohio high schooler Lebron James, is considered a lock to be the first player selected in this year’s NBA draft. 6-10 high schooler Kendrick Perkins of Ozen, Texas is also thought to be a potential lottery selection in this year’s draft.

Villanueva, one of the Top 10 Class of 2003 prospects in the country, was a recruiting coup for Illinois. The Illini beat out Villanova, Seton Hall and Indiana for his services.