NCAA To Allow Undrafted Prospects To Return To School

The NCAA announced today that it is implementing several changes to its rules and policies in response to the federal investigation into college basketball recruiting. The list of changes being made by the NCAA is a lengthy one, and can be read in full right here. However, two tweaks to the current rules are of particular interest from an NBA perspective.

Going forward, the NCAA will allow college players who declare for the NBA draft as early entrants to keep their names in the draft and then return to school if they’re not selected. The previous system forced early entrants to make a decision within 10 days of the conclusion of the draft combine — if they remained in the draft after that point, they lost their NCAA eligibility.

In 2018, 181 college underclassmen initially declared for the draft, but more than 100 of those players withdrew their names before the final NCAA deadline. Under the new system, many of those players could keep their names in the NBA draft and retain their NCAA eligibility if they decide after the draft that they’re not ready to go pro. They’ll have to notify their school’s athletics director of their intent to return by the Monday after the NBA draft.

It’s worth noting that this rule change shouldn’t result in hundreds of extra underclassmen remaining in the draft through June — according to today’s announcement, only early-entrant players who request an evaluation from the NBA’s undergraduate advisory committee and participate in the draft combine are eligible to return to the school following the draft. So a prospect who isn’t invited to the combine still figures to have to make a pre-draft decision.

This change figures to go into effect in 2019 as long as the NBA and NBPA tweak their own rules to ensure that undrafted prospects who return to school are ineligible to play in the NBA during the following season.

Additionally, the NCAA will also allow “elite” high school basketball recruits and college players to be represented by agents. Those agents must be certified by an NCAA program with “standards for behavior and consequences for violations.”

Per the NCAA’s announcement, USA Basketball will be responsible for determining whether or not a high school recruit is considered “elite” and qualifies for an agent. However, a USA Basketball official tells ESPN’s Jonathan Givony (Twitter link) that USAB hasn’t given its approval for that, so the NCAA itself may be making those elite-prospect designations.

If and when the NBA and NCAA allow high school players to enter the draft, high-schoolers will be eligible to hire an agent beginning on July 1 before their senior year. College prospects will be eligible to hire an agent after any basketball season as long as they request an evaluation from the undergraduate advisory committee.

While there are several other rule changes coming to NCAA basketball, these two look like they’ll have the most significant impact on potential NBA players. While the new rules come with limitations and may only really benefit a small group of prospects, they should help provide those players with more reliable information on whether or not to go pro and more flexibility to return to school if they ultimately decide they’re not ready for the next level.

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17 thoughts on “NCAA To Allow Undrafted Prospects To Return To School

  1. This makes it more difficult for recruits. The “elite” will now have to wait until after the draft to see if they want to go to the school they are looking at. This and eliminating the one and done will make it more difficult to recruit for schools like Kentucky, Duke, and Kansas. Recruits may commit to other schools early rather than wait to see if a scholarship is available.

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    • hiflew

      They might be allowed to return to school, but the school doesn’t have to accept them back. If Kentucky or Duke has 1 scholarship remaining and a top 10 recruit is available, I don’t think they are going to save it.

      I believe this ruling is meant for guys from schools that don’t have as much turnover. A junior from a lower division school or a sophomore from a directional school are probably the ones this ruling is meant to help.

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      • This is meant for any recruit who plays in the combines and stays in the draft until 5 (a.m./pm?) the Monday after the draft. The schools can redshirt players, or give them an extra year for injuries. They can not take scholarships away. Kentucky has had to wait to see who declares for the draft before signing. Now they’ll have to wait until after the draft, but the top high school seniors will be in the draft, and normally only a handful of recruits are available after the signing period in April. I’m sure the coaches who can’t get 5 star recruits are estatic about this ruling.

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      • Not only does this mean schools have to accept players back if they aren’t drafted, it also says the schools have to keep scholarships open if the players decide to return to school later to get their degree, but don’t count against the schools 15 yearly scholarships. I’m guessing schools will be redshirting more

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        • Calipari says now he hears it’ll be 2022 (or when the NBA changes the one and done).

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    • Phattey

      I’m sure this won’t be hurting Kentucky duke or Kansas anytime soon

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      • When the top 7-8 players declare for the draft and they have to settle for top 50 prospects instead of top 10, their top 3 recruiting classes might change. They’ll be getting players who actually stick around a couple years. Remember where Kentucky was before they got one and done Calipari? Do you think Coach K will coach until he’s 90? This isn’t supposed to go into affect until after the 2020-21 season. It will definetely affect them. We’ll see if they can compete like Villanova with marginal recruits.

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        • The 2020-21 NBA draft will be a deep one. It will include the one and done players along with the top high school players. You may see a few international players and a few upperclassmen in the first round of the draft.

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  2. JT19

    This is a step in the right direction, although I’m not a fan of giving HS kids an agent unless the one-and-done rule is done away with. The NCAA has a very long history of corruption (both the NCAA itself and the schools that are a part of it). Specifically, some colleges have illegally given a player’s family some sort of benefits to convince them to commit to their university. Allowing HS kids to sign with an agent, even if it is only the elite recruit players, is only opening up another possible avenue for schools to do this. The NCAA is naive if they don’t think some schools will make deals with a specific agent in order to have that agent help sway a recruit to their school. When a university eventually gets caught doing this, I hope the NCAA drops the hammer on them in terms of punishment.

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    • Luke Adams

      Maybe should’ve made this clearer in the post, but the rule about high-schoolers being able to hire agents won’t go into effect until the one-and-done rule is eliminated/altered.

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      • JT19

        That would clear up some of the issues, but wouldn’t it still be possible for a HS to hire an agent, not get drafted/choose to pull out right before the draft, and still commit to a college?

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  3. formerlyz

    I feel like the agent thing could be a slippery slope, but I also think these guys should get compensated in some way, or at least be allowed to receive things like a meal without breaking the rules. I would like to see something implemented to address stuff like that. Attending classes should matter, but at the same time, you cant make kids that dont have any interest in staying in college go to class, so I dont know how that issue would be addressed

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  4. moazetongue

    DA panic move by the NCAA. If a guy doesn’t get drafted he may end up not being able to go back to school bc the scholarship has been spent. If so, the NCAA should either step in and pay for his college since they ruined it or allow the player to pick up a scholarship at another college and be able to play immediately.

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