NCAA basketball non-seniors have smaller window to declare for NBA draft

Hokies' Malcolm Delaney must make his decision by Saturday.
Hokies' Malcolm Delaney must make his decision by Saturday. (John Mcdonnell/the Washington Post)
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By Mark Viera
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, May 2, 2010

Since declaring for the NBA draft on March 31, Virginia Tech guard Malcolm Delaney, a junior, has prepared by working out and taking classes in Blacksburg, Va. But Delaney and others in his situation are facing a particularly difficult decision process this year.

The NCAA has shortened by about a month the window in which early entrants can remove their name from the draft without losing eligibility. The change has drawn a mixed reaction among college players and coaches and NBA officials and executives.

Some players and their families are critical of the change because they say they do not have enough time to make an informed decision. But some college coaches have said the shorter time frame would allow them to set their rosters, because they can add recruits in the late signing period if any current players decide to leave early.

Unlike players such as Kentucky freshman point guard John Wall, who is likely to be the top overall pick in the June draft, Delaney's draft stock is not as easy to ascertain, which has made his decision more difficult.

"The decrease in time is frustrating because you don't get a chance to explore things as much as you would if you had the extended period of time," Delaney's father, Vincent, said in a telephone interview.

The elder Delaney said the new time frame was "a disservice to the player."

Last year, players had until June 15 to withdraw their names from the NBA draft without losing a year of eligibility. Now non-seniors have until May 8 to withdraw, as long as they don't sign with an agent.

The list of 103 early entrants, including 80 players from U.S. colleges, into this year's NBA draft was released on Thursday, giving players a little more than a week to work out with NBA teams before deciding whether to keep their names in the draft. The NBA combine is May 19-23 in Chicago, and the draft is June 24 in New York.

In a statement, the NCAA said the longer time period was "intrusive on academic performance during the spring and increased the potential for outside individuals to have a negative influence on the well-being of student-athletes."

"The deadline still provides sufficient time for student-athletes to declare their draft intentions," the NCAA said of the shortened time frame.

For most coaches, the new rule will have no impact on them on a year-to-year basis.

Butler Coach Brad Stevens, who led his team to the NCAA title game in March, said he did not have an opinion on the change because Gordon Hayward, his star forward, was the first of his players to declare for the NBA draft. Hayward, a sophomore, is a likely first-round pick.

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