Now that our focus is shifting towards offseason matters, one of the biggest things to keep an eye on will be the "who's staying, who's going" game with regards to the NBA Draft. We've already seen a number of players announce that they will "test out the draft waters" by declaring their eligibility for the 2016 NBA Draft. John Calipari has gone so far as to announce that every Kentucky player who is eligible (19 years old in the draft year and one year removed from high school graduation), including the walk-ons, will be taking advantage of the new rules.
With that being said, every player who is eligible for the draft, including our walk-ons, will submit their names for the NBA Draft ...— John Calipari (@UKCoachCalipari) March 23, 2016
... in hopes of being invited to the combine in May.— John Calipari (@UKCoachCalipari) March 23, 2016
If you don't recall exactly what changed in the rules, let me refresh your memory. The old rule provided that college players could declare for the NBA Draft and then return to school, so long as they didn't hire an agent. However, the NCAA used to require players to make the decision to return by mid-April, which is before the NBA can host its Draft Combine. Thus, while players could announce their draft eligibility, they didn't really have a way to get a sense of how NBA teams viewed them before deciding to return to school or not. This left the players in a tough spot, as they had to make a significant life decision without the requisite information to make an educated decision.
The new rule passed by the NCAA in January 2016, extends the deadline for underclassmen to decide on returning to school or forfeiting their remaining eligibility. Now, draft hopefuls can make their decision 10 days following the conclusion of the NBA Draft Combine in Chicago. This year, the Combine runs from May 11-15, so college players will have until May 25 to decide whether to remain in the draft or return to school, provided they haven't hired an agent. College players must announce their eligibility for the draft by April 24.
Players are also allowed to have one workout per NBA team (at their own expense), per year, in addition to participating in the Combine. Additionally, players can submit their name to the draft pool a total of three times without jeopardizing their college eligibility. The rules have not changed with regards to hiring agents. Once a player retains an agent, they have forfeited the remainder of their NCAA eligibility.
Not every player who declares for the draft will get a Combine invitation, as the NBA usually invites approximately 60-70 players each year. NBA teams vote on the invitation list, so a player's omission should be treated as a sign that NBA scouts don't view them as a viable draft candidate for that year. The invitations are usually issued a week or two prior to the Combine, so we should expect a full list of the participants in early May. Players invited to the Combine may work 12 hours per week with their college coaching staffs at their home facilities to prepare for the Combine.
Once the May 25 deadline passes, players who have not withdrawn their names from the draft pool forfeit the remainder of their NCAA eligibility, regardless of whether they get drafted or not.
The new rule is highly beneficial to underclassmen college basketball players. There have been too many instances where a player has declared for the draft and gone undrafted because he didn't have sufficient information about his NBA prospects. The change should help curb that.
One downside to the rule change is that seniors may be squeezed off the invitation list, unless the NBA decides to expand the number of invitations. The other is that coaching staffs will have to wait longer to get a clearer picture of what their rosters look like for the upcoming season, and impacts their planning as they may have extra scholarships to use on transfers and uncommitted recruits.
For some of you, the Domantas Sabonis draftwatch may have already begun in earnest. Should Domantas declare, he'll have until May 25 to decide whether he wants to make the jump to the NBA, or return to Gonzaga for his junior season.
- April 24: Deadline for early entry eligibility
- May 11-15: NBA Draft Combine
- May 17: NBA Draft Lottery
- May 25: Deadline for early entrants to withdraw from NBA Draft
- June 23: NBA Draft