Draft Deadlines Facing NCAA Underclassmen

As he did a year ago, Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress.com 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 10th: NBA Undergraduate Advisory Committee Application Deadline
April 15th: NBA Undergraduate Advisory Committee Response Deadline
April 16th: NCAA Early Entry "Withdrawal” Deadline
April 28th: NBA Draft Early Entry Eligibility Deadline (10:59 pm CT)
May 2nd: NBA Draft Early Entry Candidates Released
May 15th-19th: NBA Combine/Pre-Draft Camp (Chicago)
May 21st: NBA Draft Lottery
June 17th: NBA Draft Early Entry Withdrawal Deadline (4:00 pm CT)
June 27th: 2012 NBA Draft

As Givony explains, the major change instituted for the first time last year involves that NCAA "withdrawal" deadline. Prior to 2012, 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, beginning in '12, the NCAA 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 16th — well before the NBA's deadline.

The NCAA doesn't allow college players or third-party representatives (even family members) to discuss the player's draft stock with NBA teams prior to the league releasing its list of early entrants in early May. Only a player's head coach can talk to NBA general managers to try to gauge the stock of the player.

Still, the NBA will once again make an Undergraduate Advisory Committee available to NCAA players. The 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 no later than April 15th, 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."

According to Givony, the advisory committe is generally very conservative with its projections for players, so as not to encourage a prospect to leave school early only to be disappointed. Givony says Andrew Bynum, who was a lottery pick, was told he projected as a late-first or early-second round pick, while Kevin Martin was told he'd be selected late in the second round or go undrafted — he ended up being a first-rounder.

As he did last year, Givony suggests that it doesn't make sense for a player to declare for the draft prior to the 16th 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 28th 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 28th 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 upshot of the NCAA's current 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. That didn't stop 48 early entrants from entering 2012's draft class though, so I expect we'll still see plenty of underclassmen declaring their intent over the next several weeks.

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