Some sweeping and common sense changes from the governing body of college athletics. The NCAA has made changes to its own deadline for declaring for the NBA Draft as well as relaxes rules regarding how often a player can "test the waters"
Starting this year, a men’s basketball student-athlete must remove his name from the NBA draft list 10 days after the conclusion of the NBA draft combine. This past year, the combine was held May 13-17.
Also, students can enter the NBA draft multiple times without jeopardizing eligibility and may participate in the combine and one tryout per NBA team, per year.
The NBA will invite a select number of draft-eligible players to the combine, which will provide a good indicator of an underclassman’s draft potential. Following the combine, the NBA will provide specific feedback. Students can also work out for one NBA team to provide additional assessments.
A student invited to the combine will be allowed to work out with his college coaches from the time he receives his invitation until he withdraws from the draft. Workouts will be kept to the in-season limit of four hours a day for up to 20 hours per week.
If you recall, this was essentially how the NBA draft process used to work. Players could enter the draft, go through the process of gathering data then withdraw at some point in June without jeopardizing their eligibility. This became known as "testing the waters" and players had once chance to do it during their college careers.
In 2011 the rules were changed, mainly at the behest of ACC coaches, to shorten the decision period to ten days after the end of the college basketball season. Those coaches complained about the two months of limbo the process created. From early April until early June, a coach would have no idea if he was getting everyone back. Anyone who was paying attention during late spring/early summer 2008 knows how much high drama surrounded UNC at that time. Danny Green, Wayne Ellington and Ty Lawson all tested the waters and depending on the day it wasn't clear who, if any, would return to Chapel Hill. They all did and the rest, as they say, is history.
The shorter deadline was heavily criticized since it did not permit the players ample time to sort out their draft stock. The NCAA deadline was also somewhat meaningless since a player could still declare for the NBA Draft by the NBA's later deadline. In that respect forcing a withdrawal from the draft at an early date didn't prevent a player from simply waiting and putting his name into the draft two weeks later.
More importantly, the shorter deadline was a huge disservice to athletes forcing them to make a life altering decision with less information. It deprived players of the opportunity to understand their draft stock better but also go through the experience. Under the old system, players were permitted to test the waters once. Any junior who had NBA aspirations was advised to at least go through the process if only to get some experience and some idea on what aspects of their game they need to address.
The recent rule change will permit any player to test the waters as many times as they want. It also gives athletes a much larger time frame to make the best possible decision. While it does create some uncertainty for programs who might have multiple players in the process, those concerns are not nearly as important as the concern for the player making an informed decision. After all coaches get paid millions of dollars to run these programs, a little additional uncertainty in the name of what's best for the player is a small price to pay.
The new rules go into effect immediately which means there is a very good chance Isaiah Hicks, Kennedy Meeks and Justin Jackson all put their names into the draft. In the case of Jackson, he is likely leaving anyway, especially if the season ends in the Final Four or better. Hicks and Meeks might return but as juniors they should probably avail themselves of the opportunity to kick the tires on their draft stock and see how they measure up to their peers.