Adults have again colluded to short college athletes.
College coaches pushed a change the NCAA passed quietly last spring. April 10 is the new date underclassmen have to withdraw their name from draft consideration, in order to retain college eligibility.
Any surprise coaches and the NCAA wrangled April 10 into becoming D(ecision) Day for players should not exist. April 11 is the opening of the spring recruit-signing period. Hence, the self-serving alteration.
Coaches want clarity, even if it costs players a legitimate evaluation. The college coaches say it doesnt matter there is no longer time to work out for an NBA team. No longer time for multiple trips for multiple evaluations. No longer time to separate rumor from fact if a players personality is in question. They think the new NBA Draft Advisory Committee, to which players have to apply for evaluation by April 3, plus traditional scouting is sufficient.
Theres simply no longer time before deciding. Once the confetti flew inside the Superdome Monday night, the clock began to tick.
The new rule shifts the game for all, but only proves a negative for underclassmen considering the draft. In particular, those unsure how much an NBA team is pining for their services.
Lets back up. Two priorities previously existed for high school recruits: Playing time and likelihood the program would get them to the NBA.
Each was part of the posturing, schmoozing, buying and selling of recruitment. Most players, even top-tier talent, wanted assurance of touches and time.
They are what Washington head coach Lorenzo Romar refers to as navigators. They would project who might leave a program early for the draft, discern the minutes that would fall to them as a result, and decide on a college accordingly.
Theres some we did not get because they werent sure (Washington) guys were going to come out, Romar said.
That guessing is over.
The new date will start a pronounced change in early commitments for basketball. The fall signing period will become less and less relevant.
This year, the first for the new rule, five players in the McDonalds All-America game were undecided (including Washington target Anthony Bennett).
Theres no reason for them to rush now. No reason to decide before well into the spring. Once new slots open up, and yesterdays stars and many poor decision-makers have their eligibility cancelled without the courtesy of a workout for a pro team, the recruiting process will be restarted.
Terrence Ross left the Huskies after two years. His decision was sound and he likely would have reached the same one under the old timetable.
But, even Ross was told of fluctuating projections. Top 10, end of the lottery, mid-first round. Once he heard top 30 was likely, he was sold.
Players allow what they want to hear to percolate. A delusional messenger told Isaiah Thomas last year he would be selected in the first round. No one else told Thomas that. Not the media draft soothsayers. Not anyone who was trying to be honest. Certainly not Romar. So, who did?
Well, wont get into that, Romar said. I didnt. It worked out for him, though.
Romar said he and his staff do a lot of checking themselves. Talk to their NBA connections, present the feedback, let the players digest.
Thats why hes tolerant of the new date. Romar is part of the National Association of Basketball Coaches board of directors and has heard the lobbying for the change.
A lot of coaches tended to wait until June (until they knew who was leaving), and by then, theres no way to recover for some programs, Romar said. I think thats one of the reasons they did it.
Tony Wroten was being recruited by Connecticut out of high school. He hoped Kemba Walker, the 2011 NCAA Tournament Most Outstanding Player as a junior, would be sticking around. Wrotens confidence convinced him he was going to play, no matter who was on the team. So, he hoped his future roster to be as loaded as possible. Its not the norm.
Its something in Tonys case, he didnt care who we had, Romar said. The more players we have, the better. He didnt see it at all as, ‘I might not play as much.’
There’s more navigators out there than guys like Tony. Parents, people around them, some of their coaches (move them around).
After a spectacular and enraging season, Wroten decided on what he thought was a fait accompli upon arrival a year ago at Montlake by declaring for the draft Tuesday.
Who knows what he heard and where from? The NBA’s advisory committee told him he could be anywhere from top 5 to 25th. One NBA scout told me Wroten shouldnt even think about it.
Trouble is, he started thinking about it in grade school, as did most who choose this path, and he shouldnt be criticized for it. Its his dream, the same as being a firefighter may be for someone else. Except he possibly gets millions of dollars.
So, if they get a sniff, theyre gone. Self-confidence can trump common sense. Its easier to latch on to one false positive than absorb being told, Not yet.
Isaiah came in here, if he could have gone his first year, he would have gone, Romar said. As soon as he thought he had a chance to go, he was going to go. So, (his decision last year) didnt surprise me at all.
The twist is Wroten was caught in the middle of this rule. Hes been watched since he fastened his Jordans with Velcro. Now, he wasnt on either beneficial end of the change. Recruits and coaches are. Wroten knows the recruiting shell game is about to shift.
You want to come in and start (in college), if its up to you, Wroten said. You dont want to go to a place where they have three other players at your position. People leaving early is definitely something youre going to look at.
Its definitely going to help (recruits) a lot. Theyre going to know whos there and whos not, and whos coming with them. Its definitely a plus for them.
Its an unjust squeeze for him. If players were making incorrect, life-altering decisions in the past when there was more time, its frightening to think what could be decided in such a small window.
The NBA having a different declaration date — April 29 — is flabbergasting. A diabolical hopeful with surely tell his school hes coming back, withdraw his name by the 10th, just to re-enter before the 29th after working back channels for more information. Hell lose his eligibility, jerk around a program and incorrectly be painted a villain though the coaches preferred rule would be the cause of his vacillation.
But the coaches arent worried about that. In a set-up that already allows them expansive job movement and money, this is just another perk.
Lets go, underclassmen. Time is running out. Your coaches have their jobs to worry about.
Get on with it, already.
Todd Dybas covers Washington basketball for the Washington Huskies Basketball App, and Washington football for the Washington Huskies Football App coming this fall. Follow Todd on Twitter at @Todd_Dybas. Follow the app at @Huskiesbbapp.