Draft Deadlines Facing NCAA Underclassmen

Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress has written a piece breaking down the various deadlines NCAA underclassmen will face as they decide whether or not to declare for this year's NBA draft. Givony's extremely informative article begins with a list of the relevant dates, as follows:

April 3rd: NBA Undergraduate Advisory Committee Application Deadline
April 6th: NBA Undergraduate Advisory Committee Response Deadline
April 10th: NCAA Early Entry "Withdrawal” Deadline
April 29th: NBA Draft Early Entry Eligibility Deadline (10:59 pm CT)
May 3rd or 4th: NBA Draft Early Entry Candidates Released
May 30th: NBA Draft Lottery
June 6-8th: NBA Combine/Pre-Draft Camp (Chicago)
June 18th: NBA Draft Early Entry Withdrawal Deadline (4:00 pm CT)
June 28th: 2012 NBA Draft

As Givony explains, the major change this season involves that NCAA "withdrawal" deadline. In past seasons, NCAA underclassmen wishing to test the waters and get a sense of their draft stock didn't need to finalize their decision until May, allowing them to work out for NBA teams before perhaps deciding to return to school. However, this year, the NCAA has moved up its withdrawal deadline nearly a month. Now, if a player enters his name into the draft pool, he loses his future collegiate eligibility if he doesn't remove himself from consideration by April 10th — well before the NBA's deadline.

Givony argues that it doesn't make sense for a player to declare for the draft prior to the 10th unless he's 100% sure he'll stay in. If a player waits on the decision, he'd have the option to declare his intent by the NBA's April 29th deadline, without putting his NCAA eligibility at risk. Givony writes that there doesn't seem to be much benefit to declaring early; even if the April 29th deadline still doesn't allow players a chance to work out for NBA teams, it allows them a little extra time to privately explore their options.

The NBA's Undergraduate Advisory Committee allows players to get feedback on their draft stock from a committe of NBA executives that includes GMs, assistant GMs, and VP's of player personnel. Players don't have to declare their intent to enter the draft to receive that information. But as Givony points out, this feedback comes on April 6th, well before even the most plugged-in scouts and execs have an idea of how the June 28th draft will play out. Even the Committee itself admits this: "The Committee's evaluation is, of course, only an educated assessment and is not binding in any way or a commitment of guarantee that a player will or will not be drafted in a certain slot or at all."

The upshot of the NCAA's new rule, Givony says, is that players considering entering this year's draft will be forced to make career-altering decisions without necessarily having a sufficient amount of information. Given the uncertainty surrounding such an early decision, we may see more underclassmen than usual elect to stay in school and retain their collegiate eligibility for another year.

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