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Lorbek picks NBA, leaves team early

May 12, 2003

The MSU men's basketball team lost its fourth underclassman in three years Friday when freshman forward Erazem Lorbek announced he would forego his remaining collegiate eligibility and enter the NBA Draft.

A meeting with his father in Hamburg, Germany, last weekend resulted in Lorbek signing with the SFX Sports Group, rendering him ineligible to return to the Spartan squad.

"When I came home, my dad brought up the idea," Lorbek said in a statement. "I thought about it a lot. He talked to people. And I thought it was a good idea. My dad and agent think I can go somewhere in the first round."

Lorbek's sudden departure might be the best-kept secret of the season, shocking both teammates and fans.

"It was a shock to me and everybody else in the program." freshman center Paul Davis said. "He and I talked about next year, and how we were going to be the best big-man combo in the country."

Lorbek joins former Spartans Jason Richardson, Zach Randolph and Marcus Taylor on the list of early entries.

Posting modest numbers in his freshman campaign, Lorbek averaged just 6.6 points and 3.4 boards per game.

The quiet forward made big waves in the NCAA Tournament, boosting his line to 12 points and 5.5 rebounds while playing improved defense and helping his team advance to the Elite Eight before losing to Texas.

Still, head coach Tom Izzo said he thinks Lorbek could have benefited greatly from additional college experience.

"He has a chance to be a very good player, I just wish he would have stuck around another season for his own development," Izzo said in a statement. "But in the end, I think the opportunity to play in the NBA or make a lot of money in Europe was a major factor."

With Lorbek gone, Davis will be the lone returning frontcourt player to earn major minutes. The two combined for more than half of the team's post points (51 percent) and 45.6 percent of its rebounding.

The early departure puts even more pressure on MSU's incoming class, including Drew Naymick, a highly acclaimed 6-foot-10 center from North Muskegon High.

In his senior season Naymick averaged 18 points, 10.7 rebounds and 5.5 blocked shots per contest while leading his team to the quarterfinals of the Class C state tournament. Naymick also finished third in the state's Mr. Basketball voting.

"Personally, this means I'll have to step up and have a bigger impact on the team," Naymick said. "I'll rely on coaches and players for guidance as to what my role on the team is."

Two-year Izzone member Jason Bruveris said although disappointed over the loss of Lorbek, he feels the new Spartan talent will help fill the void.

"Our own success is hurting us," said the Spanish education junior."But with a really good coach like Izzo, he can develop those guys. I hate the NBA, but that's what happens. They want to pursue their dream. You can't really stop them."

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