The NCAA has officially made a number of significant changes to its policies regarding underclassmen and the NBA Draft, the organization announced (Twitter links). The first change will be to push back the date that players must remove their names from NBA draft to 10 days after conclusion of draft combine. The previous deadline for underclassmen who declared themselves eligible for the draft to withdraw and maintain their NCAA eligibility was April 15th. The NCAA also removed the restriction that limited players to withdrawing from the draft no more than once during their college careers. The changes are effective immediately, and players can take advantage of the new process for the 2016 NBA draft.
“The rule is a good idea because it provides men’s basketball student-athletes the opportunity to test their dream of going beyond the stage of amateurism into the professional level without completely sacrificing their collegiate career, should they find they are not as prepared as they had hoped for the next level,” said Cody McDavis, a member of the Division I Men’s Basketball Oversight Committee. “[The rule allows] student-athletes to realize their dreams without punishing them for having such dreams. Almost every men’s basketball student-athlete has dreamt of playing in the NBA. This proposal allows them to attempt to make those dreams a reality without taking away their ability to come back and play in amateur collegiate sport if they happen to be unsuccessful.”
McDavis also noted in the release that the limit on the number of players invited to the NBA combine, which will encompass fewer than 100 participants, would likely encourage many uninvited players to return to school. “I am of the belief that a student-athlete who does not receive an invite to the draft or an invite to work out with a team will make the smart decision to return back to college to continue to grow as a player,” he said. “However, should they receive an invite, they will have an opportunity to compete against draft-potential competition and receive feedback on their performance. Either way, they have an opportunity to make an educated decision that is best for them and their family. That is why this is so important.”
Dan Guerrero, chair of the Men’s Basketball Oversight Committee and athletics director at UCLA, indicated that the new rules would help students make decisions with as much information as possible. “The cooperation between the NCAA, NBA and [the National Association of Basketball Coaches] was vital to the success of this idea. We reached an excellent outcome that will undoubtedly benefit every group involved, most importantly the student-athlete,” Guerrero said. “We all worked toward the same goal – providing students and their families with the opportunity to assess their future professional sports prospects in a realistic timeline. The rule change will allow students the chance to pursue their dreams while still preserving their ability to play collegiately.”
These changes will certainly allow early entrants to better gauge their draft prospects by participating in the combine, which is often a major determining factor for draft slotting. A lack of an invitation to the combine would provide a signal to a player that he’s not likely to find work in the NBA, as Kentucky coach John Calipari suggested to ESPN’s Andy Katz. A player invited to the combine will still be allowed to work out with his college coaches from the time he receives his invitation until he withdraws from the draft. Those workouts will be kept to the in-season limit of four hours a day for up to 20 hours per week, the press release notes.
The new rules won’t change the timing of the draft process for international players and others without NCAA ties, who can withdraw anytime up to 10 days before the draft.