"It's kind of a relief. Now it's just all about work, trying to make my lifelong dream a reality. No more wavering back and forth."
Wayns put his name into the pool of candidates on March 14, a week after the Wildcats were eliminated in the second round of the Big East Tournament. By rule, he had until April 10 to change his mind. But the choice had pretty much been made.
"We support Maalik's decision and will continue to support him throughout the process," coach Jay Wright said in a statement.
Wayns becomes the first Wildcat to leave early since sophomore Kyle Lowry was a late first-round pick of the Memphis Grizzlies in 2006.
Three years ago, junior Scottie Reynolds submitted his name, but later removed it. He then became a first-team All-America, but still went undrafted.
At this point, it's hard to project where Wayns might go. A lot will come down to his workouts. Conventional wisdom at the moment seems to put him somewhere in the middle of the second round. But it takes only one team. Whether he could have improved his stock by returning is tough to gauge.
"I've heard a lot of positives, and a lot of negative stuff," Wayns said. "I understand people usually only think you should pursue this if you're going to be a top-10 pick. But this is what me and my family wanted.
"I feel as though I've been at Villanova since I was a sophomore in high school. It's been a part of me for a long time. But it's the right time to move on. Coach Wright has been like a father figure to me. All my professors helped me do well in school. And my teammates are brothers for life. I love everything about this place . . .
"I'm happy where I'm at. Last year, I wasn't ready. I wasn't confident about myself. Now I can take everything that goes with it. I'm sure there will be criticism. But I'm excited about what's going to happen. Anything's possible."
Wayns said he hasn't signed with an agent, but confirmed reports that he's leaning toward North Jersey-based Andy Miller, who represents Kevin Garnett and Lowry, among others.
The Wildcats, who missed the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2004, will have two other junior starters from this season, Mouphtaou Yarou and Dominick Cheek. They also had five first-year guys on the roster this past season. At least some of them obviously must grow up a lot faster, especially new starting point guard Ty Johnson, whose development was slowed considerably after he broke a bone in his foot last summer.
Contact Mike Kern at firstname.lastname@example.org.