The NCAA’s ever-advancing deadline for withdrawing from the NBA draft has entered the category of “be careful what you wish for”. Coaches now dislike the two dates, with the earlier NCAA date rapidly becoming irrelevant:
Kentucky coach John Calipari said a year ago that he had his players wait past the deadline to announce a decision to prove a point that the NBA deadline is the one that matters. And a number of players this year used just about every last day and hour until the NBA deadline to make their decision: Michigan State’s Adreian Payne, Creighton’s Doug McDermott, and Baylor’s Isaiah Austin and Cory Jefferson decided to stay, and Colorado’s Andre Roberson and Miami’s Shane Larkin used the time to decide they would leave.
The problem appears to be that coaches believe that the NCAA’s date is a deadline to enter the NBA draft. In reality, it is a deadline to withdraw from the NBA draft and return to school. As long as that deadline is before the NBA’s deadline to enter, it is irrelevant.
Although NBA rules have a role as well. The NBA prohibits workouts of players prior to the NBA’s predraft camp. So even if a player has declared for the draft, he cannot have the type of contact with a team that he and the team benefit the most from until June.
It really is irrelevant what college basketball coaches do with the draft date because the NBA can trump their decisions. The NBA could push the entry deadline back further, or allow workouts earlier and with players who have not entered the draft. Even more radical, the NBA could dump the idea of declaring for the draft, and simply place every eligible player into the draft pool like MLB and the NHL, which renders a host of NCAA rules obsolete.
In response, coaches would have to push for more restrictions on tryouts. Players can finance their own tryouts so long as they do not miss class. But even more important is that professional teams can pay the expenses for an athlete’s tryout, so long as the athlete does not miss class and the tryout lasts no longer than 48 hours. Basically this is an official visit for the aspiring pro, and would be the first place college coaches would have to target to combat major changes to NBA draft rules.
That still does not solve the problem of uncertainty for coaches. Truth is, they have no certainty in their rosters anymore. For every player that ends up staying because they had a limited time to make a decision or could not go on tryouts, many more players are transferring. Coaches should just accept the smaller uncertainty of the draft, and not fiddle with the rules in a way that might trigger an NBA backlash.