Ohio State’s Kosta Koufos said Monday he will declare for this summer’s NBA draft, but the 7-foot freshman has not closed the door on a return to the Buckeyes.

Ohio State’s Kosta Koufos said Monday he will declare for this summer’s NBA draft, but the 7-foot freshman has not closed the door on a return to the Buckeyes.

Koufos said in a text message to The Repository he will not hire an agent. Underclassmen who do not hire agents can later pull out of the draft by June 16 and return to school.

“I am declaring for the 2008 NBA Draft but not hiring an agent and maintaining my college eligibility,” Koufos wrote.

A phone message left later in the day for Koufos seeking further comment was not returned.

Koufos averaged 14.4 points and 6.7 rebounds for Ohio State this season. The former GlenOak High School standout played some of his best basketball late in the year when he averaged 18.2 points in the Buckeyes’ five-game run to the NIT title.

Koufos was named the NIT’s most outstanding player. He scored 20 of his 22 points in the second half and had nine rebounds in the Buckeyes’ championship game win over Massachusetts.

Sunday is the deadline for underclassmen to declare for the NBA draft.

Declaring and not hiring an agent gives Koufos some time to gauge his draft status.

DraftExpress.com, one of many Web sites that list mock drafts, on Monday had Koufos going to Denver with the 20th pick in the first round. Before the start of the season, the same site projected him as the fourth pick.

“The NBA draft has never been on my mind,” Koufos said at the time. “ ... I just want to take it year-in and year-out and see how I develop.”

Another option for Koufos next season is playing professionally in Greece where his mother, Kathy, is from.

Reach Repository sports writer Mike Popovich at (330) 580-8341 or e-mail mike.popovich@cantonrep.com