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COLUMBUS, Ohio-B.J. Mullens, who just completed his freshman basketball season at Ohio State, will enter the 2009 National Basketball Association Draft, the 7-foot center announced Thursday.

Thad Matta, head coach of the Buckeyes, said it is difficult to see Mullens leave the program so soon. 

“I am saddened to lose B.J.,” Matta said. “On one hand, I feel another year in school would have allowed him to develop into the player I know he can be and an additional season would have been beneficial to him both personally and monetarily in the long run. On the other hand, I am empathetic to the reasons why he has chosen to leave at such an early point in his career.  I wish him nothing but the best and know he will always be a part of our basketball family at Ohio State.”

Mullens said he enjoyed his time at Ohio State.

“After long consideration I have decided to enter my name in the 2009 NBA Draft,” Mullens said. “This was not an easy choice because I love The Ohio State University but the many positive reasons for moving on outweigh the many good reasons for staying. I would like to thank The Ohio State University, its faculty and staff, along with Coach Matta for the opportunity to attend school and play basketball here. I would also like to thank all my Buckeye coaches and teammates for their guidance and friendship, not only this season, but also in the time since 2004 when I first committed to play at OSU.”                                                          

Mullens, a Columbus, Ohio, native, is the fifth Ohio State freshman to declare for the draft in the last three seasons. Greg Oden (No. 1 pick/2007), Mike Conley Jr. (No. 4/2007), Daequan Cook (No. 21/2007) and Kosta Koufos (No. 23/2008) are the others. All were picked in the first round of their respective drafts.

Ohio State finished 22-11 in 2008-09 with Mullens coming off the bench to provide 8.8 points and 4.7 rebounds a game. He shot 64 percent from the field (120-188) to set an Ohio State freshman record for accuracy. He also blocked 37 shots and scored 292 points. He averaged 20.3 minutes a game with two starts in 33 appearances.

The Buckeyes return its entire starting five for the 2009-10 season and a total of 12 letterwinners.