Sam Dekker's father on decision to turn pro

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KAUKAUNA -- Former Badgers forward Sam Dekker didn't need much time after his junior season ended to know he wanted to turn pro, but that doesn't mean it was an easy decision.

"It's been talked about but not 100%," said Sam Dekker's father Todd Dekker. "After our discussion with some people we thought it was time that he would move on. I think him having a really good tournament and having his stock go up I think was really important to him. What he did this past summer at the camps with Kevin Durant and LeBron [James] showed he can play and get to that level, so I think that kind of set us in that direction."

Todd Dekker was in Kaukauna on Saturday to watch his other son John Dekker play in the Holy Cross Men's Open basketball tournament. He and his wife said it was somewhat strange being able to drive to watch these games, where the last several weeks were flights around the country watching the Badgers march to the Final Four.

Sam Dekker announced on Friday he was going to skip his senior season and enter the NBA Draft. Todd, who was also Sam's coach at Sheboygan Lutheran High School, said the family settled on the decision around Wednesday night.

"You have to weigh your options, you have to be prepared for both [returning to school or leaving," said Todd Dekker. "When we sat down as a family with the pluses and the minuses we felt this would be the time to enter the NBA."

Sam Dekker wrote an open letter to the Badgers community thanking them for his time in Madison. His father said that was one of the toughest parts of deciding to leave school.

"He loved Madison," said Todd Dekker. "He loved the support from the school, he loved his teammates and the things that surround college basketball. That was really tough. It's been such a great ride and experience. To weigh that in, that was really hard for him."

As for now, Dekker is finishing up classes in the next couple weeks, having worked with professors knowing he won't be in school the entire semester. From there, his father says he's going to head for Chicago to prepare for pre-Draft workouts. Sam has been invited to attend the NBA Draft but Todd says the family has not decided if they'll attend.

"We're proud of what he's done and how he's developped not only as a basketball player but as a person," said Todd Dekker. "The things he's gone through, the ups and downs of any basketball player, any college athlete. How he represented himself and his community, the university, how he's taken strides in his development as a player, we couldn't be happier for him."

Sam Dekker also leaves Madison having dealt with his fair share of criticism during his college career. The forward was a high-caliber recruit out of Sheboygan and, to some fans, never lived fully up to expectations.

"That's just part of sports," said Todd Dekker. "Sam's real good about that, there's always going to be someone who will knock you down. He's real good about that. He knows what he wants, he has his goals. He was criticized in high school, he was criticized in middle school, it just goes with the territory. Sometimes that kind of gets him going. If that's motivation, so be it, but he just wants to be a better basketball player."

The 2015 NBA Draft is June 25th in New York City. Mock drafts have Sam Dekker pegged as a first rounder, possibly landing as a lottery pick. Wisconsin has had just one lottery pick since the league started using a draft lottery in 1985 -- Devin Harris in 2004. They may have two lottery picks this year with Dekker and senior Frank Kaminsky.