Spencer Dinwiddie has heard all the naysayers tell him he needed to return to Colorado for another season.
Coming off a torn ACL, he was damaged goods, he heard. Add in the fact that the 2014 NBA Draft is projected as one of the deepest in recent memory, and it seemed like the odds were against him.
None of that could shake his faith in himself, though.
On Thursday, the CU junior announced that he will skip his senior season with the Buffaloes and enter the NBA Draft.
"You're going to get Spencer Dinwiddie; not Spencer Dinwiddie with a bad knee," he said of the team that drafts him. "I think when people look at it like that, there is, in my opinion, not too many people in this draft - I don't care if it's the best draft in recent history - that are better than me."
The 6-foot-6 Dinwiddie tore the ACL in his left knee on Jan. 12. In late February, Dinwiddie told Buffzone.com that wouldn't leave unless he felt he would be a sure first-round pick.
Going through the evaluation process in recent weeks, it doesn't appear Dinwiddie got that assurance. Yet, he got enough information to feel like this was the right move to make and said he would be "very surprised" if he wasn't picked at all during the two-round, 60-selection NBA Draft on June 26.
"I got a lot of intrigue from the league," he said. "I think everybody likes what I bring to the table. I do understand that it may not end up being the most glamorous draft night for me. It could be something that Buff fans look on and aren't happy with, but I felt like it was the best thing for me to do in terms of my future.
"I've got first round talent across the board; I have first round talent. Everybody, of course, is going to doubt my knee and so it's hard to get a first round grade with that type of thing. But everybody (in the NBA) was clear that they love my talent."
Dinwiddie, who had until this Sunday to make his decision, said he made up his mind last weekend when he paid a visit to specialist Russ Paine in Houston. Doctors had been telling Dinwiddie all along that his recovery was going well, but Paine gave the final, important seal of approval.
"He compared my recovery a lot to Adrian Peterson (of the Minnesota Vikings)," Dinwiddie said. "He said, 'If Adrian Peterson is the Secretariat, then you're like Seabiscuit.'
"When I heard that confidence in my knee, it helped give me confidence, quite honestly. I already felt that I was going to be alright but he gave me a co‐sign like that for one of the greatest running backs of all time."
Paine feels that Dinwiddie will be completely ready to go by Aug. 1. Until then, he'll continue working his rehab.
"I've never been the most loose or most flexible guy and I'm trying to work on being more flexible, getting stronger, faster," said Dinwiddie, who, as of Thursday had not hired an agent. "I plan on becoming a better athlete, honestly. Coming back from this has given me time to focus on my body."
Dinwiddie is the fifth player in CU history to declare for the NBA Draft before exhausting his eligibility. He's the third to do so in the last three years, joining Alec Burks (2011) and Andre Roberson (2013).
Head coach Tad Boyle said it's not easy when players leave early, but that he couldn't be more thrilled for Dinwiddie.
"We knew what his dreams and goals were, and when you see a kid, a young man, now, realizes those, it's a good day for your program," Boyle said. "He will always be a Buff and he will be a part of this family forever. Certainly it's bittersweet on our part because we'd love to have him back for another year, but if this is what he thinks is best and he believes that, we're going to support him."
Dinwiddie's parents, Stephanie and Malcolm, attended Thursday's press conference. Stephanie said the decision was made completely by her son.
"I'm thrilled for him," Stephanie said. "This has been a dream of his since he was literally 3 years old. He started shooting at baskets when he was 18 months old. My husband and I believe that this is his gift from God and we're thrilled that he's made the decision that he's made. We would have been happy whichever way he chose to go, but he's ready. It's his time."
Dinwiddie leaves CU as arguably one of the best players in program history.
Prior to his injury, Dinwiddie had started all 86 games of his career, ranking 11th in school history for most starts. He is 24th in career points (1,115), 21st in assists (227) and 18th in minutes played (2,590). His career free throw percentage (83.0) is third all-time at CU and his career 3-point field goal percentage (38.6 percent) is fourth all-time. He averaged 13.0 points, 3.4 rebounds and 2.6 assists during his career.
"I love everything about this place," he said of his time at CU. "Weighing the chance to do something special here (next season) versus something that is more what I would like to do was really tough."
In the end, though, he chose a future he's dreamed about for a long time.
"This is what's best for me," he said.