As Weber State standout Damian Lillard weighs whether or not to jump to the NBA after his junior season, he’s operating under a different set of rules than pro prospects in the past.
As I wrote in Monday’s WSU Notes column: “The days of NCAA basketball players like Lillard working out for NBA teams before the draft to evaluate their prospects without signing an agent are over.”
The first day of the spring National Letter of Intent signing period is April 11th this year, meaning that any player that makes himself eligible for the NBA draft before then must remove it by April 10th in order to retain his collegiate eligibility.
Last year college players had until May 8th to evaluate their professional options, which gave them about a week to work out for NBA teams and gather feedback about their NBA draft stock. College players (like their international counterparts, who are not bound by the NCAA’s rules) used to have until ten days before the draft (this year June 18th) to do their research and gather as much information as possible before making such an important decision for their future.
What this essentially means is that there is no more “testing the waters” anymore.
EPSN.com’s Andy Katz says the rule adds confusion:
The new draft rule, which is not universally known, calls for all underclassmen to indicate whether they’re in or out of the NBA draft on April 10, one week after the Final Four ends and a day before the month-long spring signing period.
The objective is to allow college coaches a chance to replace a player leaving for the draft — which is almost comical since there’s no way a team could find a spring replacement for a high-level draftee.
But there is a flaw in this rule that the NBA and agents have taken notice of recently.
An underclassman can say on April 10 that he’s returning to school, but he can still declare for the NBA draft by the league’s April 29 deadline. The NBA doesn’t acknowledge the April 10 date and will only put out an underclassmen list for prospective teams on May 2, after its own deadline and not the NCAA’s.
College Basketball Talk blogger Raphielle Johnson adds this at NBCSports.com:
With the old rules players could “dip their feet” into the NBA Draft pool in hopes of getting a good feel of where they may end up going.
Now they’re essentially jumping into the deep end of the pool from the start, and they better be able to “swim”. That likely means more decisions that won’t make much sense to college basketball fans.