The NBA Draft is creeping ever closer, and while most are focused on first-round candidates, early-entry players who are on on the bubble have a major decision to make: stay in the draft or go back to school?
For years, players have had to make the decision to give up their college eligibility sometime in April, which gave them little time to determine their draft standing. Fortunately, the NCAA decided to change the rule last January, pushing the deadline to 10 days after the draft combine (May 25th this year). Players are also allowed to enter and withdraw their names each year if they like, a change from the previous rule which limited them to only enter their name into the draft twice before losing eligibility.
This shift allows players to test the water and then return to school after receiving valuable feedback from NBA personnel. Conversely, players who may have otherwise pulled their names from the draft could elect to stay in if they find that NBA teams are interested in selecting them.
Kansas coach Bill Self had this to say in support of the rule change, via NBA.com:
“This legislation, with help from the NBA, will allow student-athletes the opportunity to make informed decisions on their true status as a draft prospect before forfeiting their collegiate eligibility.”
For the Lakers, the deadline will provide some clarity as they search for players to use the 32nd pick in the draft on. Some notable players who will have difficult decisions include Chinanu Onuaku (Louisville), Malik Newman (Mississippi State), and Isaiah Whitehead (Seton Hall).
While many of the players who are considering pulling their names out of the draft aren’t anticipated to be selected at the end of the second-round (if at all), Los Angeles has had some success finding players that were being overlooked by other teams, such as Larry Nance Jr. and Jordan Clarkson.
The deadline for international players to withdraw from the draft is June 13th, after which we should have a definitive list of players the Lakers will be sorting through as they identify second-round targets.