University of Connecticut (UCONN) Huskies star Kemba Walker announced he will enter the 2011 NBA Draft during a news conference on April 12.

Walker put on one of the greatest single-season performances in Huskies history, bringing a third national title to UCONN’s campus this spring. Now the junior guard will take the blessings of Head Coach Jim Calhoun and join the draft after being projected as a first round lottery pick.

“It’s a lot of speculation about me going to the NBA and I just want to confirm everything … I will be going to the NBA,” Walker said during the news conference. “I want to thank Coach Calhoun for turning me into a man from day one … I think this is the right time for me to go to the NBA and I think coach has done a great job of preparing me to go to the next level.”

Walker boosted his draft stock with a stellar junior year, improving his scoring average from 14 points per game in 2009-10 to 23 points per game in 2010-11. He also led the Huskies to a Big East Conference Championship prior to the NCAA Tournament, and was recently honored with the Bob Cousy Award for the nation’s top point guard.

Walker told reporters that he considered returning next year for a chance to win two-straight national titles, but ultimately decided to leave because of his great chances of being selected within the top-10 first round picks. Coach Calhoun said he’s excited for Kemba’s future, but also sad to see one of his favorite players leave.

“I’m so happy for him that he’s achieved this, but I’m also sad that I won’t see him in my office every single day,” Calhoun said. “He’s as fine a kid as I’ve ever coached … a lot of our success begins with him and I feel very blessed by the fact that I was able to coach him.”

Although Walker is leaving early, he won’t go empty handed. The 6-foot-1-inches, 172-pound combo junior guard has accumulated enough academic credits to be scheduled to receive his bachelor’s degree from UCONN when spring semester ends, just in time before summer draft workouts begin.