By Josh Cook
University of Louisville sophomore forward Samardo Samuels won't be coming back for his junior season.
ESPN.com's Pat Forde is reporting  that Samuels will hire an agent and remain in next month's NBA Draft, losing his amateur status. An official announcement will likely come Wednesday, Forde said.
Samuels, who led the Cardinals in scoring (15.3 points per game) and rebounding (seven per game) last season, surprised many last month - including UofL coach Rick Pitino who one day prior said that he would suggest to Samuels that he turn pro after his junior year - when he entered his name in the draft. He had until this Saturday to withdraw from the draft and return to UofL for the 2010-11 season, but apparently he has decided against doing so.
Samuels is projected as a second-round selection at best, but he isn't even listed there in this mock-up at nbadraft.net . His loss will be a major blow to a UofL basketball team that was already set to lose its second (Edgar Sosa), third (Jerry Smith) and sixth (Reginald Delk) leading scorers to graduation from a team that went 20-13 and lost in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
Samuels' departure likely means that guard Elisha Justice, the Kentucky high school Mr. Basketball who recently led Shelby Valley to the state championship, will now receive a scholarship. He had previously committed to walk-on UofL's team next season.