Jabari Brown plans to enter draft but could change his mind by April 15

Jabari Brown has an out to return to Mizzou but appears to be headed to the NBA Draft.

L.G. Patterson/AP

The Missouri Tigers will need some scoring next season after leading scorer Jabari Brown announced his intentions to enter the NBA Draft.

Jordan Clarkson, the Tigers’ second-leading scorer, announced he would forgo his senior season to apply for the NBA Draft on Monday. The Tigers also are losing their third-leading scorer, senior Earnest Ross. The trio accounted for 70 percent of the Tigers’ scoring.

Brown, however, at least is leaving the door open for a return to school. He has until April 15 to make a final decision on whether to enter the draft, which gives him 13 days to solicit opinions from the NBA about his draft stock. If he doesn’t like what he hears, he can withdraw from the draft and return to Missouri for his senior season.

"This was a step I needed to take in order to make the most educated decision possible with regards to my NBA opportunities," Brown said in a statement released by the school. "My time here at Mizzou has been incredible. This is a special place and a second home for me. However, I must approach this looking at the bigger picture. This is a decision that impacts my family as well, and that is most important to me."

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Missouri coach Frank Haith sounds like he believes Brown is ready to turn pro.

"Jabari’s approach to life and basketball is so impressive," Haith said in a statement. "So many things right now point for him to enter the draft, hire an agent and move forward, but he will do his due diligence in this process and then make the decision best for him and his family. I am really proud of Jabari and know Tiger fans are, too, with how he has conducted himself in the face of such great adversity this year."

Brown learned midway through the season that his father, David, is battling cancer.

Brown led the SEC in scoring with a 19.9-point average, shooting 46.7 percent from the field (51.2 percent on 2-point attempts). He also finished third in the conference in 3-point shooting percentage (41.0). Before a late-season swoon by the Tigers, he was considered one of the leading candidates for Player of the Year honors. He ended up being named first-team All-SEC.

Considered a spot-up shooter in his sophomore season with Missouri, Brown emerged as one of the nation’s most improved players by expanding his game on both ends of the court, particularly in driving to the basket. He should find out in the coming days if the NBA believes he improved enough to have a chance of being drafted.

You can follow Stan McNeal on Twitter at @stanmcneal or email him at stanmcneal@gmail.com.