Lopez twins are leaving Stanford for careers in the NBA

Robin decides to join Brook as both will give up their final two seasons to enter the pro draft

It was a foregone conclusion that Brook Lopez would be leaving Stanford after his sophomore season to turn pro. The only question was whether his 7-foot twin, Robin, would join him.

That question was answered Monday when Stanford's twin towers made their decision to leave school for the NBA.

The two had talked about taking time to make their decision but, only three days after Stanford's loss to Texas in the NCAA Tournament the two announced they would give up their final two years of college eligibility.

Brook has been touted as a top-five pick in the upcoming NBA draft. His 26-point performance against Texas cemented that conclusion. He was named to the third team of the Associated Press All-America squad announced Monday.

And while Robin didn't perform up to his expectations in the season-ending loss to the Longhorns last Friday in Houston, his offensive improvement over the past six weeks apparently elevated him to first-round status.

"This has been a very difficult decision for me because I really enjoyed my two years at Stanford," Robin Lopez said in a statement. "I have always hoped I would have an opportunity to play in the NBA, and I feel that now is the right time to make that dream a reality."

The twins, who turn 20 today, said last year they wanted to turn pro at the same time. They made good on that plan after being the foundation of the Cardinal's 28-8 season that included Stanford's first two NCAA Tournament wins in four years.

While a player who declares for the draft before his college eligibility is gone has the option of withdrawing from the draft if he does not hire an agent, there is no hint the Lopezes would consider returning to Stanford.

Thus, Stanford coach Trent Johnson can start making plans of life next season minus his 14-feet of Lopez brothers.

The Cardinal won't be pounding the ball inside next season as much as guard play assumes a more prominent role.

Brook Lopez left Stanford fans with a good impression in his final game, scoring 26 points on 10-of-22 shooting and snaring 10 rebounds, his 12th career double-double. He averaged 19.3 points, 8.2 rebounds and 2.1 blocks this season after missing the first nine games because he was academically ineligible. He scored 30 and 26 points in the Cardinal's final two NCAA Tournament games.

The Cardinal bowed out of the NCAA tournament in the Sweet 16, losing to second-seeded Texas, 82-62, on Friday night at Reliant Stadium in Houston.

"The sky is the limit for Brook," Johnson said after the loss. "It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out this is probably his last game. He knows his work habits and those things are the only thing that's going to stop him from being special regardless of where he plays. In my mind he's one of the better post players we've had."

It seemed there was some incentive for Robin to return. With 83 blocked shots, he just missed the single-season record of 85 set by Curtis Borchardt in 2001-02. Lopez is also 12 blocked shots away from passing Tim Young's 167 career blocks.

Robin would have been the centerpiece of a starting lineup that would also include two other starters in guards Anthony Goods and Mitch Johnson. Six-foot-eight Lawrence Hill and 6-7 Landry Fields are also early favorites to join the starting lineup.

Fields reached double figures against the Longhorns, scoring 11 points including a key 3-pointer with 12:52 remaining to play.

"He was aggressive, relaxed and he had fun," Johnson said. "I'm excited for Landry because he's a guy going into next year that's going to have a huge role on this basketball team."

Drew Shiller and Josh Owens will also see their roles expand next year. Redshirt sophomores (6-5) Da'Veed Dildy and 6-9 Will Paul return to the fold to add depth.

Goods returns as the team's top scoring threat, while Mitch Johnson has to become more of a scoring threat.

Incoming Cardinal players include two highly regarded shooting guards and a power forward.

Guards Jeremy Green from Bowie High in Texas, and Jarrett Mann from Blair Academy in Delaware are both listed among the top 100 prospects. Miles Plumlee (6-9, 215) is rated the 17th best power forward, with room for improvement.

Stanford will rely on all three freshmen, with the guards figuring to make the immediate impact.

Last week was more about the seniors who played their final game together. Fields said the locker room was full of talk about Taj Finger, Peter Prowitt, Kenny Brown and Fred Washington. They spent a few moments together in the game after the outcome was long since decided.

The 28 victories match the fourth highest in program history, and the most in four years.

"We just wanted to thank our seniors for giving us such a great season," Fields said.

Finger was active defensively and grabbed seven rebounds. Washington also had seven boards. Brown (who grew up in Texas) hit a 3-pointer and Prowitt grabbed a rebound.

Fields also knows there are areas in which Stanford will need to improve for another successful season.

"Defensively we should get better and rebounding is a must," he said. "We're very proud of what we accomplished. We fell short of some of our goals but overall this is one of the better teams in Stanford history."

Mitch Johnson, who hit a 3-pointer in the waning seconds of the first half to breathe some life into the Cardinal, finished with eight assists and five rebounds. He moved past Arthur Lee and into seventh all-time in career assists with 389. He has a chance to finish his career second behind only Brevin Knight's 780 assists.

"Mitch is probably a co-MVP with Brook Lopez," Trent Johnson said. "Going into this year, we knew our ability to take care of the ball was going to be extremely huge. He's not necessarily the quickest or fastest or the strongest but he's a winner and an over achiever. He's a joy to be around and has an even keel and a level of toughness that's really appreciated by me."

While preparation for next season starts now, the first games are a mere 188 days away.

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Like this comment
Posted by chris
a resident of University South
on Mar 31, 2008 at 8:19 pm

It's official. The Lopi are gone.

Like this comment
Posted by real bb
a resident of Stanford
on Mar 31, 2008 at 8:44 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

1 person likes this
Posted by parent
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Apr 1, 2008 at 11:15 am

It is beyond me that top private universities like Stanford pay full ride "scholarships" to "students" like these who have no intention of getting a college degree - all the while turning away thousands of deserving academics-oriented applicants.

1 person likes this
Posted by Real BB
a resident of Stanford
on Apr 1, 2008 at 11:53 am

Real BB--Facts are that Brook Lopez stopped going to classes in the fall and was suspended for being academically ineligible. I guess classes some athletes take are either not worth their bother or too hard for them.
Stanford has higher standards and does not need "students" like him here.
Agree with parent. Goodbye Lopez brothers

Like this comment
Posted by Bill
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Apr 1, 2008 at 1:01 pm

The Lopez brothers played the 'system' and Stanford for "suckers". Happens at Cal all the time. Maybe when the Lopez duo makes their millions, they can repair Stanford the cost of their two years at Stanford including room and board, tuition, and travel. Maybe good schools should get a written agreement - graduate or repay from their NBA salaries.

Like this comment
Posted by julie
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 2, 2008 at 2:23 pm

good for them-- Tiger Woods dropped out of Stanford and made millions

Larry Ellison never graduated for college nor did Steve Jobs nor Bill Gates

The value of a 4 year liberal arts degree is much overvalued

Like this comment
Posted by L-man
a resident of Menlo Park
on Apr 9, 2008 at 3:29 pm

I wouldn't feel too sorry for Stanford or be too mad at the Lopez brothers. Stanford has taken in sufficient additional revenue because of the Lopez brothers bringing additional value to the program via wins and fan interest and network TV payements, not to mention share from NCAA tournament dollars. Both entities have benefited from the short stay.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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