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Auburn basketball: J.T. Thor leaving Tigers, plans to stay in NBA draft

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Men’s Basketball: Auburn vs Tennessee

Feb 27, 2021; Auburn, AL, USA; Auburn Tigers forward JT Thor (10) reacts after a shot during the game between Auburn and Tennessee at Auburn Arena. Mandatory Credit: Shanna Lockwood/AU Athletics

J.T. Thor's Auburn basketball career is over.

The team announced Saturday that the freshman forward has "decided to take his game to the next level." He has signed with an agent.

"The future is bright and we can't wait to watch you sign," the program's statement read.

Thor declared for the NBA draft March 23, leaving open the option to return for his sophomore season. In his announcement, though, he made pretty clear what his intentions were.

"As many of you know, playing in the NBA has always been my dream and I feel that my time is now," Thor said. "This will provide me the opportunity to continue doing what I love at the highest level while also taking care of my family.

"My dream has never been so close and I look forward to this next chapter with confidence and determination."

The 6-foot-10 power forward who lists Anchorage, Alaska, as his hometown, signed with the Tigers as a four-star recruit ranked as the No. 54 overall player in the 2020 class.

He started all 27 games as a freshman, averaging 9.4 points on 44 percent shooting (29.7 percent from 3-point range), five rebounds and 1.4 blocks.

He saved his best game for a late-season trip to Kentucky, when he scored 24 points to go along with nine rebounds.

"I think J.T. is going to be a great NBA player," Auburn coach Bruce Pearl said last month. "I think JT is absolutely a pro. It's up to them to decide when and how soon and how high and all those different things. I have no doubt of his ability. He was great to coach."

Thor is one of two Auburn players leaving for the NBA draft, joining point guard Sharife Cooper. His decision leaves the Tigers with 12 scholarship players for the 2021-22 season -- six returning players, five transfers and one incoming freshman.