The Associated Press

BERKELEY, Calif. _ Lamond Murray, who became California's career scoring leader in just three seasons, said yesterday he will pass up his final year of eligibility and enter the NBA draft.

Murray, a third-team All-America, joins teammate Jason Kidd in leaving Cal early. Kidd, a sophomore All-America point guard, announced last month he will be part of the June 29 draft.

Murray, a small forward, said Kidd's decision had no bearing on his own.

"I guess I feel relieved I've made this decision, yet sad knowing that I'm leaving my team, Coach (Todd) Bozeman and the staff," Murray said. "It was mainly because of the economic welfare for myself and my family and because of the dream I have to play in the NBA."

Murray's announcement had been widely expected since Cal's season ended at 22-8 following a loss to Wisconsin-Green Bay in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

He said he made up his mind last week after talking with family, friends, and NBA observers, who said they expect him to go high in the draft.

"I think I'm ready right now," said Murray, a physical education major. "I felt like I accomplished everything I could, basketball-wise. School-wise, I'll have to come back, which I plan to do."

Murray, often at the receiving end of Kidd's passes, scored 1,688 points in his three years at Cal to surpass the previous school mark of 1,655, set in 1987 by Kevin Johnson, who plays for the Phoenix Suns.

He also set a school record for most points in a season with 729, an average of 24.3 points per game. He had a career average of 19.2 points per contest.

"I think his potential is unlimited. I think he'll be an All-Star in the NBA," said Bozeman, who joined Murray at the news conference. Murray's parents and his girlfriend also attended.

Bozeman anticipated the loss of his top two players. He had said he was conducting his recruiting as if Kidd and Murray would be gone.

"I'm happy for them," Bozeman said. "This whole process is about kids being able to reach their goals. You want kids to have goals and dreams. When they come in, you talk about it with them and you want to help them reach their goals.

"I mean, when kids go to school, if you're majoring in engineering, you have a goal and a dream to be an engineer. And if a company comes in before you graduate and they say, 'Hey, we'll give you this job now and you won't have to finish the last year of school,' I see most people taking advantage of the opportunity."

As for life without Kidd and Murray, Bozeman said he was optimistic.

"All programs lose great players," he said. "It's just a matter for myself and my staff of replacing the players. I don't know if we can replace these two exactly, but it's all about the recruiting process." Read Next Article