Brackins nearly left for the NBA last spring before deciding to return to school, so Friday’s announcement was hardly a surprise. But his final season was a disappointing one for the Cyclones.
Iowa State was expected to compete for an NCAA tournament berth, but injuries and guard Lucca Staiger’s midseason departure contributed to a 4-12 record in the Big 12. The Cyclones ended their season with an 82-75 loss to Texas in the Big 12 tournament on Wednesday.
Brackins, a second-team All-Big 12 pick this season, ranks 12th on Iowa State’s career scoring list with 1,539 points.
“Craig has been the face of our basketball program for the last two seasons and has always represented ISU in a first-class manner,” Iowa State coach Greg McDermott said in a statement released by the school. “He has worked extremely hard on his game, especially in the weight room, and has looked at all of his options before making this decision. We certainly are excited to see him thrive as a professional next season.”
Brackins told The Associated Press on Friday he doesn’t regret his decision to return for his junior season. He said the saddest part of his final season was not being able to play with forward Jamie Vanderbeken, a close friend who missed most of the year because of injuries.
“I came back to play with my teammates and I was excited about the players that we had,” Brackins said. “Unfortunately we just had some bad things, some bad luck for our team, with people departing and injuries.”
Brackins said he’d like to put on 5-10 pounds and work on his skills in preparation for the June 24 draft.
“Just work on, basically, my body, my all-around game to show that I’m more than just a post-up player,” Brackins said.
Iowa State also announced Friday that starting center Justin Hamilton and reserve guard Dominique Buckley have been granted releases and plan to transfer.
Hamilton, a sophomore, averaging 6.4 points and 5.4 rebounds last season and was among the most improved players on the team. But he said in a statement released by the school that he wants to play for a school close to his Alpine, Utah, home.
Buckley, a native of Detroit, averaged 1.4 points a game this season and will look for a school where he can get more playing time.
Buckley was likely going to be the fourth guard in Iowa State’s rotation again next season, behind starters Diante Garrett and Scott Christopherson and Chris Colvin, a promising prospect who will be a sophomore in 2010-11.
Iowa State will also be without forward Marquis Gilstrap, whose NCAA appeal for extra year of eligibility because of medical hardship was denied. Gilstrap averaged 14.9 points and 9.3 rebounds in his only season in Ames.