Virginia Tech junior guard Malcolm Delaney opted to submit his name into the NBA draft, but he has not hired an agent.
He hopes to get the feedback he needs from pro scouts and NBA teams before deciding whether his NBA stock is high enough or if he should return to Blacksburg, Va. for a final season of college basketball. But with a new, shortened period to withdraw his name and return to school, the question now is, does he really have enough time to get that feedback?
Underclassmen are not allowed to begin scheduling workouts with NBA teams until after the league releases its official list – which it is expected to do Thursday or Friday (although the deadline was Sunday). Under NCAA rules, however, underclassmen also are not allowed to miss class time in order to attend those workouts, leaving only the weekends to audition for NBA teams.
Because they have only until Saturday, May 8, to withdraw from the draft, that leaves only one weekend – next weekend – to meet, greet and impress potential pro employers. And that’s the best-case scenario, assuming players are even invited to do so.
"So a big question is, in the NBA, are those teams going to have workouts, or just wait and see who will keep their name in draft and work them out from there [after that]?" Virginia Tech coach Seth Greenberg said in a phone interview Monday. "They've talked about having a group workout, but that hasn’t materialized."
Although teams might hold individual tryouts, NBA spokesman Tim Frank said in an email that the league – which still lists its deadline for underclassmen to pull out as June 14 – has no plans to hold any sort of group workouts for underclassmen. The Chicago pre-draft camp is May 20-21, but by then, underclassmen have to have submitted their decisions.
The NCAA opted to move up its deadline by about five weeks in order to shorten the limbo period for college coaches and their teams; in past years, the NBA’s mid-June withdrawal date kept coaches waiting too long to learn if they had an extra scholarship, or if they needed to replace a player.
Ryan Blake, the NBA’s assistant director of scouting, worries that giving underclassmen less time to meet with teams may rush them into bad decisions.
"It's the first time something like situation has happened, and it’s going to be chaotic," he said, adding that many NBA teams will still be involved in the playoffs next weekend, and none will know where they’re even picking in this summer’s draft until the draft lottery on May 18.
"... A lot of the agents are trying to sign these guys by telling them that there might not be a CBA [Collective Bargaining Agreement] after next season, that they might lose money. But if you have over 100 early entries, and only the first-round picks are guaranteed money, you’re giving a lot of guys a false sense of hope.
"... Now that there’s not a whole lot of time for workouts, and less time to make that decision, you worry that more student-athletes will make a mistake. The NBA and the NCAA don’t want that."
College coaches, though, pointed out before the rule change that NBA teams constantly scout players during the college season and should already know the players’ talents and potential before they declare. The NBA also boasts a nine-person advisory committee that offers underclassmen an informed opinion about where, or whether, they will be drafted. So seven weeks seemed like an awful long time to wait.
"We needed to condense it," Greenberg said. "I'm just not sure what the exact time period should be."
Former Duke star Gerald Henderson, who went through the seven-week process last season before he hired an agent and was drafted by the Charlotte Bobcats 12th overall in the first round last summer, doesn't think that shortening the time period is that big of a hardship for players, because "guys start getting information from people way before that."
"... I can see why they would make that rule, just so [coaches] can know – so there isn’t such a long period when they don’t know anything,” Henderson said. "... Anybody who wants to go in the lottery and just has those two days [to work out for teams], I can see where that would be a tough decision. But it helps out the coaches.
"Once a kid makes a commitment to a school, for the most part you’re expected to be there for four years."
Delaney, a first-team All-ACC selection last season, is the only one of the league's seven early entry underclassmen who has left open the possibility of his return. North Carolina's Ed Davis, Florida State’s Solomon Alabi, Wake Forest’s Al-Farouq Aminu, Georgia Tech's Gani Lawal and Derrick Favors, and Virginia Sylven Landesberg all announced plans to hire agents.
Greenberg said that Delaney "is trying to figure out what would be best. He's a guy that’s in the gray area ... he's not a lock-down first-rounder or NBA lottery pick like some of the [ACC] players that have declared. He’s kind of where Greivis [Vasquez] or Gani Lawal were last season."
Both the Maryland guard and Georgia Tech forward ultimately decided to return last year.
But then again, "they had longer to make up their minds," Greenberg said.
Charlotte Observer writer Rick Bonnell contributed to this report.