Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The ACC to Test the "Testing The Waters" Rule

From today's Raleigh News and Observer:

The ACC plans to propose NCAA legislation that would force men's basketball underclassmen to decide whether they are in the NBA Draft within 10 days after the NCAA title game. ... Under the proposal, there would be no grace period -- either you're in or you're out.
Now I don't know about anyone else, but I think the testing the waters rule is one of the best rules the NCAA has. It is strictly in place to aid college players in making the correct decision about their future.

Obviously, it hurts the coaches, who have to wait for the players to decide whether they are going to come back, which makes it difficult to recruit because the coaches never know exactly how many scholarships they will have available. Take Roy Williams as an example. With Danny Green, Ty Lawson, and Wayne Ellington all entering their names in the draft, Roy Williams had to go through the spring signing period not knowing if he was going to have those three extra scholarships available. 

Are there drawbacks to the rule for the players? Absolutely. For example, any player that is convinced they will be a 1st round lock is probably going to blow off a lot of class at the end of the second semester. But what if a guy gets injured during the draft process (a la Dee Brown) or gets in trouble (a la Ty Lawson), which would severely hurt his draft stock and decides to return - will he still be eligible if he actually blew off the classes?

There is a school of thought that says that the longer a player has to decide, the more likely he is to listen to the wrong people (which, frankly, is BS). More time allows the players to go through workouts with the actual NBA teams; to be rated by actual NBA scouts; to actually be matched up against their competition in the pre-draft camp in a situation where they have the chance to show off what they can do on the court.  This allows the players to make a more educated decision on their future. If they have seven days to make a final choice on whether or not to enter the draft and do away with their college eligibility, a kid is much more likely to listen to the "expert" second cousin who knows a guy whose uncle works for the Knicks who said the player was a lottery pick.

I will agree with coaches that the deadline is a bit too late. But is the answer really to get rid of the entire evaluation process? This year, the schedule looked like this:
  • April 7th - NCAA title game
  • April 27th - Cut-off to declare for the draft
  • May 27th-30th - NBA Pre-Draft camp
  • June 16th - Cut-off to withdraw your name from the draft
  • June 26th - The NBA Draft
The NCAA could easily knock 3-4 weeks out of that process and still allow the kids to be properly evaluated. Give the players a week to decide whether or not to enter the draft, then give them 5-6 weeks to decide whether to stay in the draft, ending with the NBA pre-draft camp. Maybe the NCAA could even institute a scholarship waiver, which would allow a team to use an extra scholarship if one or two guys went through the entire draft process (this would probably be thoroughly abused by coaches everywhere, but I'm just throwing ideas out there).

Is that the perfect answer? Probably not, but it is definitely closer to solving the problem then what the ACC plans to propose. This quote probably sums it up the best. From RNO article:
Clemson senior K.C. Rivers, who briefly pondered submitting his name last April, said he disagreed with the legislation because he doesn't think it will give players enough time to gather information from NBA teams and make an informed decision. "If this rule had been in effect [last spring] ... I would probably have not been back at Clemson,'' he said.
How many guys is this true for? How many guys would be without a team to play for once the training camp cuts were done?

I really hope the NCAA doesn't do away with the one rule that is truly in place to benefit the players.

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