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BYU star Elijah Bryant announces plans to graduate, turn pro

(Jacob Wiegand, Deseret News, File)

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PROVO — For the second-straight year, BYU's best statistical player is turning pro with eligibility remaining.

Elijah Bryant announced his plans to graduate from BYU and depart for a pro career, either in the NBA or abroad, in a YouTube video posted Wednesday to his channel of more than 30,000 subscribers.

"Basketball has been a lifelong journey of connecting the dots, and I look forward to connecting more dots in the future," Bryant said in the video. "As a little kid it was always my dream to play in the NBA. Now is my opportunity to fulfill that dream."

In addition to graduating, Bryant plans to hire an agent, ending his career with the Cougars or any other collegiate program, a BYU spokesman confirmed Wednesday. His prospects lie in the upcoming series of NBA Draft workouts, the G-League or an overseas career.

The timing of the announcement came on the final day of classes of BYU's 2018 Winter semester.

The 6-foot-5, 210-pound guard from Gwinnett, Georgia, was the Cougars' top scorer in 2017-18, averaging 18.2 points to go along with 6.3 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game en route to all-West Coast Conference first-team honors as a redshirt junior.

“We want to thank Elijah for all of his hard work, dedication and commitment to this team and our program,” BYU coach Dave Rose said in a statement Thursday. “Over the last three years, he was not only a great player and leader on the court but represented the university and our program in a way that made us all proud. We wish him the very best as he pursues his childhood dream of becoming a professional basketball player.”

Bryant spent three years in Provo, including a redshirt season in 2016-17 after transferring from Elon University. He was named the Colonial Athletic Association's rookie of the year in 2014-15, when he averaged 14.2 points and 4.2 rebounds for the Phoenix.

But Bryant, who is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, transferred to BYU and immediately become a contributor — as long as he could stay on the court, while struggling with knee injuries and his NCAA-mandated redshirt season.

At BYU, Bryant played alongside Erik Mika, who left school early a year ago and began a professional career in Italy, and Nick Emery, the sharpshooter from Lone Peak who left school at the beginning of the 2017-18 school year. Emery already announced plans to return next season.

Bryant also played with Yoeli Childs, the former Bingham High standout who recently declared for the NBA draft. He has not hired an agent, making him eligible to potentially return to BYU before May 30.

"At BYU, I was able to meet my wife and also grow on the court, but also spiritually and in the classroom," Bryant said.

With Bryant's departure, the Cougars will return two seniors to next year's team in center Luke Worthington and Weber State transfer McKay Cannon. Braiden Shaw could also be a senior, though he is eligible for a medical redshirt after missing most of the 2017-18 season with injuries.

Editor's note: This story was updated Thursday morning to reflect Rose's comment on the early departure of Bryant.

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