Thursday, April 23, 2009

The NCAA is slowly doing away with the "testing the waters" process

Once again, the NCAA and its coaches are acting in their own best interests.

In a season where the pre-draft camp, which was the only place outside of the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament (which is only for 64 seniors with an outside chance of landing in the second round) that prospects could play five-on-five in front of pro scouts, has been eliminated, the NCAA has voted to reduce how long NBA draft early entrants have to decide whether or not they will stay in the draft.

They also did away with the rule that allowed players 30 days to declare their intention to return to school if they did not get drafted. Both rule changes will take effect August 1st.

I have no problem with the second part of the rule change. If you stay in the draft, you should lose your eligibility.

The change I disagree with is moving the deadline to withdraw your name up to May 8th (this year, the deadline is June 15th, just 10 days before the draft). I understand why the change was made - mainly because it affords coaches time to sign players if they do end up losing underclassmen to the league (the end of the spring signing period is May 20th), but it also reduces the amount of time these "amateur athletes" spend being bombarded by agents and increases how much time they spend in the class room - but that does not mean it is the right decision.

Having that extra time to go through extensive individual workouts allows these kids to really get a good grasp on their draft standing and make an informed decision about whether or not to stay in the draft.

UNC is a perfect example. Ty Lawson, Wayne Ellington, and Danny Green all declared and then withdrew their names from the draft, returning to school and winning a national title. But with the earlier deadline, do you think that all three would have been back? All three were projected as borderline first-rounders, and it wasn't until their workouts, when none of the three could get a first round guarantee, that they withdrew their names.

To be honest, I don't think it (it being the pre-draft camp) will make all that much of a difference this year. For guys like a Luke Harangody or a Donald Sloan, it is pretty much a guarantee that they will not be a) flown around the country for workouts with NBA teams because of the economy and b) picked anywhere near the first round. If Harangody does get invited to workouts, it will be by teams that are looking at other power forwards, and want someone going against them that the know will be playing hard.

But like I said earlier, this won't even be the biggest change to the NBA Draft process. Without the pre-draft camp, a lot of guys that are borderline first rounders won't have the same chance to prove themselves. Take a kid like Jrue Holiday. Holiday entered his freshman season with all the hype in the world (I even read a couple D-Wade comparisons), but he struggled with his consistency and rarely looked dominating during a disappointed season for the Bruins.

One of the issues is that Holiday was supposed to be a point guard, but he was playing off the ball with senior Darren Collison still on campus. Now, if the pre-draft camp still was happening, then Holiday could have gone in there and ran the point in some five-on-five scrimmaging. Maybe he proves to some scouts that he can run the point, and it was Ben Howland's system (which has and always will limit individual stats) and playing out of position that led to his mediocre season.

Or maybe he goes into the five-on-five games, struggles running the point, and realizes that if he comes back for a year and develops his game, he could be a lottery pick next season.

As it stands, if Holiday remains in the draft, he is likely to fall to the back end of the first round, if not the second round. Without the five-on-five, it makes the decision of whether or not to remain in the draft that much more uninformed.

Moving the deadline to withdraw to May 8th will further complicate the decision-making process.

And kids like Holiday are going to be the ones that are hurt the most.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Regarding Holiday, first off Holiday will be a top lottery pick this year most NBA guys have him between 8-15 right now and once the workouts start Holiday will move up. Howland knows this and that is why he put a spin on it that Holiday was a late first rounder to make him stay. Holiday will not be back as a Bruin next year and will most likely be a top 10 pick.