Testing the NBA draft waters? More complicated than it sounds

From ESPN - March 22, 2018

The majority of college basketball teams saw their seasons end over the past two weeks, with only 21 non-international players in our latest mock draft still alive in the NCAA tournament or NIT. As prospects' seasons come to a close, underclassmen are being advised by the NBA league office to proceed with caution when testing the draft waters -- a process that's more complex than it appears.

The NCAA made sweeping changes to its early-entry rules in 2016, once again allowing players to evaluate their draft stock by attending the NBA combine and private team workouts between when the early-entry list is released in late April and 10 days after the conclusion of the combine in late May.

This is not to be confused with the NBA's early-entry rules, which require players (in this case, mostly internationals) to withdraw no later than 10 days before the draft in order to retain eligibility for future drafts. That deadline this year is 5 p.m. ET June 11.

Early entrants can withdraw from the NBA draft only twice -- and if they do, they are not allowed to withdraw again should they declare a third time before exhausting their college eligibility. For example, Rutgers junior Corey Sanders can enter the draft after withdrawing as a freshman and sophomore, but he ca not test the waters. Should he go undrafted, he technically could return to school as long as he files a letter to his college athletic director declaring his intentions before the NCAA deadline. An obscure NCAA rule conflicts with NBA rules, an NBA official confirmed to, creating this quasi-loophole in which a prospect could play his final college seasons as an undrafted free agent.

Leading up to this year's early-entry deadline at midnight on April 22, around 150 or more players from around the world will send NBA commissioner Adam Silver a letter officially making themselves draft-eligible. That will include some of the biggest names in college basketball, such as Trae Young, who already announced his intentions on ESPN, as well as some seemingly random players from anonymous schools and conferences looking for their 15 minutes of fame.

In late February, NBA executive VP of basketball operations Kiki VanDeWeghe sent college coaches an application for players to request an evaluation from the Undergraduate Advisory Committee (UAC), formed in 1997 to assist players in the decision-making process.

The memo reads in part:

"The purpose of the (UAC) is to provide underclassmen who are thinking of turning professional with an objective evaluation of their prospects in the 2018 NBA Draft.

The Committee's evaluation is, of course, only an educated assessment and is not binding in any way or a commitment or guarantee that a player will or will not be drafted in a certain slot or at all. Please also understand that the Committee's evaluation should in no way be viewed as an effort to encourage the player to leave school; the Committee is simply responding to a request for information. Neither the player, you, nor any representative of either of you, may make public any of the information communicated by the Committee."


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