The 6-foot-9, 225-pound sophomore who was named an honorable mention All-American by The Associated Press said he made the difficult decision after praying and discussing his options with family and coaches.
‘‘I feel like now is the best time to move forward with my lifelong dream of playing professional basketball,’’ Babbitt said in a statement released by the university.
Nevada junior guard Armon Johnson announced earlier this month he too intended to hire an agent and enter the June draft. Players who enter the draft to test the waters without hiring an agent can still opt to return to play for their school, but those who hire agents cannot.
Babbitt’s outside shooting touch is expected to give him a look at both the small forward and off-guard positions in the NBA. During his two seasons at Nevada, he made nearly 90 percent of his free throws and 42 percent of his attempts from 3-point range — often from beyond the NBA’s arc.
In addition to ranking ninth in the NCAA in scoring and 51st in rebounding, he was third nationally in free-throws this season at 91.7 percent. He also set a school record for free throws made, knocking down his final 34 attempts of the season while leading Nevada to a second-place finish in the Western Athletic Conference.
Nevada coach David Carter said Babbitt had been contemplating the ‘‘very difficult’’ decision for some time.
‘‘Luke is a special combination of an outstanding basketball player and an excellent student who will be greatly missed,’’ Carter said. ‘‘We want to wish him the best as he follows his dreams.’’
Babbitt also broke the school single-season scoring record with 743 points in 2009-10 and became just the eighth player in school history to reach 1,000 points in two seasons.
He was a first-team all-WAC selection both of his seasons at Nevada, winning the league’s most valuable player award this season on the heels of his honor as WAC freshman of the year.
Babbitt ends his Wolf Pack career ranked 12th on the career scoring list with 1,316 points, first in career free throw shooting at 89.3 percent and fifth in career 3-point percentage at 42.1 percent.
He started all 68 games over the last two years and scored in double figures in 59 of those 68 contests. In his Wolf Pack career, Babbitt averaged 19.4 points and 8.1 rebounds per game.