April 8, 2009
"I want to thank everybody for coming out today. When I was picking a university I had dreams and goals to help make a difference at a basketball program. Everyone here made a commitment to helping Arizona State reach goals that had not happened in a long time."
"Today I'm here to talk about something that I've decided on as far as taking the next step in my basketball career. I think these last two years my coaches and people have really put a step on me not only on the basketball court but off as well. For these last couple days I've talked to my coaches and my family about my decision and I think I need to take my game to the next level. I've decided to declare for the NBA draft."
"My intentions are to hire an agent in the next couple of days or weeks. With the help of my family and coaches, I think this is the best decision for me as far as my dreams and aspects of playing in the NBA."
"I want to emphasize leaving Arizona State is not an easy decision. These last two years I've had a lot of ups and a lot of excitement as far as winning and playing in big games with this group of guys that I came in with. This is a great program and a great city. It's hard to leave."
"The program is on the rise and I plan on being the first former player to use the alumni locker room. Arizona State is a great place, and in these two years, have been the most excitement and fun that I've had in my life."
On NBA projections:
"I haven't talked to anyone in the NBA as far as where I'm projected to go. My coaches have been talking to people and it's looking pretty high right now as far as me and my draft status. You don't get that many opportunities to be a high draft pick. I'm in the best position right now as far as getting drafted in a high place so why not take it."
On how exciting this day is to be fulfilling a life long dream:
"It's a dream come true. This is what every basketball player imagines. It's only a select few that can make it to the NBA. The opportunity is here. My mom has been with me throughout everything. The support was there throughout the whole season and it continues to be there, so I'm thankful for that."
On if there was one thing that pushed him over the top on making the decision to declare for the draft:
"No, I don't think so. These last couple of days and the last week or two have been very tough. People probably thought it would be an easy decision. That wasn't the case. I have great teammates here, great coaches. Everything about this program made it hard to leave. With the program on the rise, we could have done a lot of great things next year. It wasn't an easy choice at all, but I feel that this decision is the best for me and my future. I love my teammates so much and my coaches. I'm happy, and it's rare that you can be happy every single day all the time. All in all, my decision that I'm making today is the best for me."
Why choose right away to go to NBA instead of wait out the process:
"I have that much confidence, but at the same time you have to be humble. I feel that behind an agent, I'm 100 percent go. Which means I have to be ready to workout, my eating habits have to be right, my sleeping habits have to be right. It's 100 percent. That's going to put pressure on me to be ready for anything that comes my way."
On the importance of a college education:
"I'm that close to finishing. I'll finish this year out strong. I'm not that far from graduating, so throughout this summer I'll take summer courses. That's the most important thing. Basketball is not forever. Once that's over, my degree is the most important thing."
On his decision to go to the NBA from last season to this season:
"I've matured a lot. On the court just seeing different defenses and game situations. Off the court, as far as age and living in apartments, paying bills and things like that, that helped me become a better person and mature a lot more. I feel that this year it's the right time and I'm ready for different things as far as on the court and off the court. I feel like I can compete with a lot of guys in the NBA."
Coach Herb Sendek
"I would just like to take this occasion to thank James, his mom, his family for everything. He's been an amazing ambassador for our University. He's been a great player for our team. He's been a terrific friend, a real gentleman. We couldn't be prouder of him. We couldn't be more grateful for all that he's helped us with, all that he's brought to our table. We're all going to be pulling for him and cheering for him every step of the way. I think I join our coaches, our players, all of the members of our basketball team and university here at Arizona State right now to say thank you."
On losing a player of that caliber, if it is bittersweet:
"It's sweet. There's nothing bitter about this. It's all sweet. We celebrate with James and his family. We take great pride in what he's accomplished, how he's represented us. You want your guys to be in this position. You work so hard for these types of opportunities. As much as we would love to have him next year and the year after, it would be disingenuous and selfish of us to allow any bitterness to creep into this moment. This is a great moment. We wish him nothing but the best."
On if Harden was everything he expected him to be coming out of high school:
"He was even more, because obviously we got to know him. We got to share the journey with him. His character, his personality, who he really was, who he really is, touched us in a special way. We're just very grateful that we were able to share the time we did. We look forward to special moments in the future together as well."
On how he saw Harden coming backfor his sophmore year gave Harden a higher sense of maturity:
"James stepped right into the frying pan so to speak. Right from day one we asked him to do everything. We put a great deal on his plate and he responded tremendously. He had a great freshman year. Then he had the courage to come back this year. A lot of guys would have put themselves in the draft last year, but he said, "I have more to accomplish, I've got to get better at some things," and he really didn't hesitate in his decision last spring. He came back and once again had a terrific season. He was the Pac-10 Payer of the Year in a league that has tremendous talent."