New NBA draft rule leaves coaches with uncertainty

Matt Charboneau
The Detroit News

Rosemont, Ill. — It hasn’t reached the epidemic level of players transferring, but with 162 underclassmen declared for an NBA draft that will select only 60 players, the numbers don’t really seem to add up.

Throw in the fact around 70 players total were invited to the NBA Combine, there are plenty of players who plan to leave college early but will end up without somewhere to play.

To that end, a rule-change was implemented this year that allows players who have not signed with an agent to withdraw their names. This year’s deadline is May 25.

How that affects college teams and coaches was up for discussion this week at the Big Ten’s spring meetings.

“The timing of the rule is difficult for the program and the kids still in program, but great for the young person to get to test the waters,” Nebraska coach Tim Miles said. “They get feedback, they get a different level of competition, and I think they get a more global view of the bigger picture and what the next level looks like for them.”

The problem is two-fold. For the player, what happens if they don’t get drafted? For the program, what do they do with their roster while waiting to see whether the declared player comes back or not?

“Hopefully that’s where your recruiting comes in and you can overcome that,” Miles said. “It’s a difficult position to be in, though.”

Michigan coach John Beilein didn’t have to deal with it this season, but he’s had his share of players leave early for the draft over the last few years, including three early entries in the 2014 draft.

But back then, once they were gone, there was no chance of them coming back.

“I can see where it has its challenges because of the year scholarship issues, do you hold one for him or not when there could be guys available?” Beilein said. “You’re trying to have some certainty as you build your program and the truth is you have a lot of uncertainty.”

For Michigan State coach Tom Izzo, who saw freshman Deyonta Davis leave early and hire an agent, the concern is more for the player.

“I don’t think it’s healthy for a kid to put his name in if he has no chance,” Izzo said. “Some of the kids it hurts, because they go there and some of the people see all their warts, they’re not ready and that might hurt them next year. But I think it’s the cool thing to do. But if I look at what’s better for the kid, because the NBA and colleges are going to survive. They ain’t changing. Michigan State isn’t going to fold its doors because a kid goes pro or a kid transfers. And the NBA is not going to fold its doors because they don’t get a kid.

“The kid who makes an average decision, that’s what I worry about, a poor decision. That could impact his life. It’s not going to impact mine if a guy leaves. And it’s not going to impact the NBA’s. That’s the part I worry about. Everybody thinks we’re not looking out for the kids. I’m double looking out for the kids.”

Eye on replay

Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany said the Big Ten will be keeping a close eye on the centralized football replay system that will be used this season by the SEC.

“I’m glad they’re experimenting on replay,” Delany said. “We think the calls on the field by and large are pretty good, and we think the replay, by and large, is pretty good.”

Delany said last season there were roughly 17,000 plays in the Big Ten and about 200 plays were reviewed. Of those, Delany said about 8-10 plays had the standards for replay reversals misapplied.

Whether a centralized replay system fixes those is yet to be determined.

“I want to see how effective a centralized replay is at addressing that issue before we adopt it,” Delany said. “We have the capabilities here. It’s great they are experimenting and we’ll watch this with great interest and if it’s the right thing to do and it advances the ball and if it eliminates controversy, I think everybody will sign up for it.”