Instituting new policies or rules is never an easy venture. Humanistic nature has people conform to their set ways over time and then gripe when any change is proposed and eventually legislated. The growing pains of working with a new set of rules is initially a slog before everyone eventually adjusts and the language of the legislation is then changed once again.
This brings me to the welcomed change (for some) of the NCAA's policy on impending underclassmen getting their feet wet with the NBA draft process. From 2009-15, an appearance on the NBA's official early-entry list was enough for a collegiate underclassman to lose his college eligibility and be stuck with the fate of the NBA draft. Hopeful prospects were restricted from testing the waters of the combine and other pre-draft workouts, obtaining feedback, and making an informed decision about their draft stock.
NBA front offices were given a clear-cut list of names that would essentially be the pool of players in which they would choose from during June's draft. No games, no wishy-washy thought process -- you were either in or you were out.
Fast forward to today, and we find that the NCAA has drafted a new policy in regards to the 162 early-entry underclassmen in the 2016 draft class. Players under the designation of "early-entry" have been given until Wednesday, May 25th (tomorrow) to withdraw their names from the draft list and still be eligible to play collegiately next season if they have not yet hired an agent.
Sidebar: since this is an NCAA rule and not the NBA's, international players stationed outside of the U.S. are still allowed to withdraw their names ten days prior to the draft. In the case of this year's draft, the deadline for international players will be June 13th.
The decision to implement the new rule has given the prospects more power to understand their NBA fate at this point in time, while creating a foggy reality for most NBA GMs.
For example, the Suns had Wisconsin's Nigel Hayes -- a player who has not yet made a decision on his college eligibility -- in last week for a pre-draft workout. In the post-workout interview, Hayes was clearly still mulling his options, and was hoping to be provided some positive feedback from a team (the Suns seemed to be a team of interest) in order to influence his decision.
Here is an exchange between our own Dave King and Hayes from 5/20:
DK: If you don't hear anything specific from a team before the deadline date, do you think you will go back [to Wisconsin]?
NH: I mean yeah, why wouldn't you go back? I think that would be what we would consider a dumb decision not to. If nobody says they want you then why would you stay? So, yeah.
From a player's perspective, the new rule is a useful tool to help evaluate your draft stock without being pigeonholed into the act of declaration. If you find out that you are unlikely to be drafted until the end of the second round, it may be in your best interest to lace up the sneakers for another year with your respective NCAA program and work on enhancing your stock.
Buddy Hield is a perfect example of a player who did not have his star shine until his senior season, and he is going to be rewarded handsomely (I presume) with a borderline top ten selection. It doesn't hurt to be informed, even if it puts NBA front offices in a lesser situation in terms of a concrete pool of players to scout until the deadline.
How do you guys feel about the new rule in place? Are you happy for the players? Upset on behalf of the front offices? Or are you merely indifferent to the whole matter?