A reader of this blog recently asked for an explanation of the NCAA rule pertaining to underclass players who declared for the NBA draft.
This is pertinent, for the first time in MAAC history, because Manhattan junior guard Rico Pickett "declared" last month, the first conference underclassman to do so.
Here's the rule, put into place for this season: Pickett and other early entrants in the draft who haven't hired an agent have until Saturday (May 8) to declare whether they will stay in school or chase a pro career.
Prior to this year a deadline agreed upon by both the NCAA and the NBA was set at 10 days before the NBA draft. That would have been June 14 this year. This year, though, the NCAA invoked the new rule after pressure from coaches who perceived that they were left in limbo as players mulled their futures into mid-June and left little opportunity to recruit replacements for those who did move on.
Players who have declared themselves eligible for the draft can travel for workouts not only to see if they're ready for the next level, but to allow pro teams to get a better look, too. They can no longer do so after Saturday, though, if they announce an intention to return to school for next season.
With its new policy the NCAA not only has created an earlier decision-making deadline, but it bars players from missing classes for workouts. Many schools are still in session, or beginning a final exam period, limiting the time players can travel to work out before pro talent evaluators. The majority of NBA teams did not start working out draft prospects until last week, which left early declarees less than a two-week window to travel for workouts, a period that becomes even more restrictive with class and exam schedules.
About three dozen players, including Pickett, have made an early declaration without hiring an agent and face the Saturday deadline.
All players selected in the first round of the two-round NBA draft receive guaranteed three-year contracts. Players picked in the second round get no such guarantees.
Pickett, at least in this blogger's opinion, isn't likely to be picked at all and is likely to return to Manhattan. However, that's no certainty and players who opt not to return to school and go undrafted can continue to pursue the NBA through free-agent situations or seek playing opportunities overseas.