Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The NCAA's deadline for early entry withdrawal needs to get pushed back

Today, Ashton Gibbs, Malcolm Lee, and Jordan Williams all announced that they would be entering the NBA Draft.

But none of them signed with agents, meaning that they will be able to pull their name out of the draft field and return to school. For Gibbs and Lee, that would mean coming back for their senior seasons. For Williams, he would be returning for his sophomore year.

All three of these kids are making the correct move.

With the NCAA's rule that allows a player to "test the waters" of the NBA Draft -- declare once and withdraw by a specific deadline to retain their eligibility -- I don't think it is a stretch to say that every single junior in the country that has a glimmer of hope of being drafted should put their name in the mix.

Worst case scenario? The player doesn't get a single nibble from an NBA GM, they get no advice on what part of their game to improve, and they head back to school in exactly the same situation as they were when they declared.

For Lee and Williams, the correct decision may end up being to stay in the draft. Both of them have a shot at getting picked in the first round. If they can get a guarantee from a team in the first round, then they should probably remain in the draft, unless like college enough that they'll risk the guaranteed millions. If Gibbs is smart, he'll be withdrawing his name by the May 8th deadline. Right now, he is not an NBA player. He's only 6'1", he's not a point guard, and he's not all that quick or explosive.

The goal of this process, the whole reason that players have the ability to "test the waters", is so that these players can get the feed back they need to make an informed decision on their basketball future. Its so players like Ashton Gibbs will know whether or not leaving school early will result in them needing a passport to play professionally.

But that isn't the way it works anymore.

Not with the NBA Draft's withdrawal deadline moved up to May 8th. Players now get all of two weeks to schedule workouts with teams and gather enough information to make what may end up being the most important choices of their lives, one that could be life-altering in a positive or negative way.

It wasn't always this way. The rule used to be that the players had until mid-June to pull their name back out. But thanks to the complaints of coaches and a push from the ACC, the deadline was moved up. Their beef wasn't exactly wrong, either. You see, the late signing period in college basketball ends on May 20th, which means that just about every recruit in the country will know where they are going to college by May 20th.

With the later withdrawal deadline, it put the coaches in a bad spot. Is he staying in the draft or coming back to school? Do they recruit to fill that player's spot? What happens if they fill that scholarship spot but the player makes a surprising decision to return to school?

Its a tough position for a coach to be in.

But moving the deadline up is not necessarily the answer. It puts the kids who have their future on the line in an even tougher spot.

Players are always going to make bad decisions regarding their draft standing. There are always going to be players that leave school with almost no shot of getting drafted and players that return to school and pass on being selected in the lottery. There are a lot of knuckleheads out there that are either delusional about their abilities or spend too much time listening to the wrong people.

The point isn't necessarily to try and keep players from making the wrong decisions.

The point is that whatever decision is made, it will at least be an informed one. How they decide to use and interpret that information is irrelevant. The ability to obtain that information is what matters.

Will these players really be able to schedule enough workouts and interviews in less that two weeks time with teams that are not yet worrying about the draft? Will they be able to do it without missing class time, without the help of an agent, and without the ability to have their travel reimbursed?

Not likely.

And again, the people that pay the price are kids who are supposed to be making the decision.

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