ames Worthy, North Carolina's all-America forward, is expected to announce that he will pass up his senior season and declare himself eligible for the National Basketball Association draft.

"I had lunch with Dean (Smith, North Carolina's coach) today and my feeling is that James is leaving," Rick Brewer, the Tar Heels' director of public relations, said today. "The general feeling around here is that he'll probably announce Thursday or Friday."

If Ralph Sampson remains at the University of Virginia for his senior season, as now indicated, Worthy could be the first player selected in the draft June 29. Los Angeles and San Diego will flip a coin May 20 to determine who picks first.

"Jerry West is going to have a great deal of input in the draft and he's very high on Worthy," a West Coast source said tonight. West, a special consultant, has taken over many of the duties of Lakers ailing General Manager Bill Sharman.

"If Sampson doesn't come out, Worthy would be the Lakers' first choice," the source continued. "The Lakers' first four choices are Sampson, Worthy, (Dominique) Wilkins and (Terry) Cummings."

(Guards John Bagley of Boston College and Rob Williams, University of Houston, said today they will pass up their senior year and join the pro ranks. Ohio State junior forward Clark Kellogg called a Friday news conference, almost certainly to declare for the NBA draft.)