College players who are considering leaving school to pursue an NBA career now officially know the amount of time left they have to make their decision. The NCAA announced Thursday that either Aug. 3 or 10 days after a still-to-be-determined predraft NBA Draft combine, whichever is first, will be the deadline for players going through the predraft process to withdraw and return to college.
There is still a chance the NBA will not even hold a combine, which was to be held in May, but was postponed due to the coronavirus threat. If the NBA can’t hold a combine or combine-type event until early August, then that would mean any player who participated in that would be in the draft pool for good. The NCAA’s initial draft withdrawal date was June 3.
The NBA announced its remaining targeted schedule Thursday, with the official restart of its 2019-20 season coming July 31, with 22 teams competing in Orlando. The NBA Draft Lottery will be held Aug. 25 and the draft itself will be held Oct. 15.
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“Due to the uncertainty of the NBA’s pre-draft process brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Division I Men’s Basketball Oversight Committee decided Aug. 3 allows a reasonable amount of time for all men’s basketball student-athletes to make a choice about starting a professional career,” the NCAA’s statement reads. “The goal of the decision is to match the intent of the current rule, which offers players the opportunity to be evaluated by and seek feedback from the NBA Undergraduate Advisory Committee and to participate in team workouts and the draft combine if invited.”
It’s not an easy needle to thread, but this college basketball news comes not so coincidentally on the same date the NBA officially puts its ducks in a row. College basketball needed this deadline date needed to be provided sooner than later, as college programs across the country have already begun allowing some players to return to campus for voluntary workouts. With some schools caught in a tight position — will a player leave or return? — there needs to be a window to allow for teams to hold a roster spot for a really good player to return if they so choose.
“This provides the utmost flexibility to student-athletes testing the waters to make the most informed decision about their future during this uncertain time,” NCAA Senior Vice President for Basketball Dan Gavitt said. “And by deciding before classes start for the fall semester, it also encourages student-athletes who choose to return to school to be fully engaged in their academic pursuits and the tremendous experience and opportunity to play college basketball.”
Aug. 3 nevertheless is still close to the start of fall semester. Players have been afforded some opportunities, such as Zoom interviews, with NBA scouts and general managers, but the in-person experiences still remain most valued. No one knows whether this upcoming draft class will have on-court, testing and competitive opportunities to boost their stock. It’s the next step in the NBA’s slow roll to its return.