NCAA’s draft deadline passing quietly in Kentucky
AP Sports Writer
LEXINGTON, Ky. – The NCAA’s deadline for players to withdraw their names from entering the NBA draft is Tuesday.
However, no announcements were expected from Kentucky and as of about 5 p.m. EDT, none had been made though the Wildcats have as many as five players possibly leaving early.
Coach John Calipari said his Wildcats are adhering to the NBA’s deadline of April 29 to decide their futures.
Around the nation, the dual and dueling deadlines have players and coaching staffs wondering what’s next during this confusing 19-day window.
Some players – including Kansas’ Thomas Robinson and Ohio State’s Jared Sullinger – have already said they’re entering the draft.
Others, like Indiana teammates Cody Zeller and Christian Watford, and Duke’s Mason Plumlee are coming back. The new rule does have a major impact: players can’t work out for NBA teams before making a decision.
So far, a group of more than two dozen players have declared for the NBA draft, but there is still a handful more undecided about their futures with the five Kentucky players leading the way.
“They’re not feeling pressured by me or anybody else,” Calipari said. “They have (until) the 29th to make that decision on what they are going to do.”
AP player of the year Anthony Davis along with fellow freshmen Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Marquis Teague and sophomores Doron Lamb and Terrence Jones have been mum about their futures since winning the national championship last Monday over Kansas.
The group returned home to Lexington last week to a raucous celebration and maintained a low profile beyond Davis’ appearance with late-night talk show host Jimmy Kimmel where he said he wasn’t announcing his intentions any time soon.
“I’m waiting until April 29,” Davis said. “That’s when a decision has to be made.”
The NBA’s first deadline is the early entry eligibility deadline just before midnight on April 29.
The NCAA’s deadline at 11:59 p.m. on Tuesday night and only applies to underclassmen who have already declared for the draft and wish to retain their eligibility. Any underclassman who declares between April 11-29 will relinquish all of his remaining eligibility, according to the NCAA.
But the NCAA’s deadline has forced players to make up their minds much faster and with less information beyond the confidential projections of the NBA’s undergraduate advisory committee.
Just this week, reports swirled that Michigan’s Trey Burke would join the draft, only for him to decide to return to Ann Arbor for his sophomore season. Plumlee was also on the fence, too, but decided Tuesday to return to the Blue Devils.
“I’m excited about the chance to play for Duke one more season,” Plumlee posted on Twitter. “Thanks for all the support, I’m blessed to be here!”
North Carolina State forward C.J. Leslie is keeping his options open. He said Monday night he feels no pressure to make a decision immediately, but expects to figure out his future later this week.
“I’m not stressing about it. Whatever I decide to do is going to be whatever I decide to do. I’m going to let it play this part out and just go from there,” said Leslie, who isn’t watching what other players are doing. “I’m worried about just me right now. I’m not worried about anybody else.”
NC State coach Mark Gottfried is downplaying any deadlines for Leslie.
“We don’t start the season tomorrow so there’s a lot of time for us to figure it out one way or another,” the coach said. “We’re obviously going to continue to recruit really hard regardless.
“For us, we’re going to go at it like we would anyway: full speed ahead.”
The NCAA rule was adopted last April and crafted so the deadline falls on the day prior to the spring signing period. Theoretically, it helps give coaches who lose a player a chance to find a quality replacement.
While the top two high school prospects – Shabazz Muhammad of Bishop Gorman in Las Vegas and Nerlens Noel of Tilton School in New Hampshire – will make their decisions on Wednesday night, most of the top recruits have already selected schools and signed letters of intent.
In the previous two years, NCAA allowed early entrants to wait until the second week in May to return and allowed them to explore their choices. That included working out for pro teams to find out where they needed to improve.
That opportunity is gone now.
It’s left players who might be on the fence of the first or second round – like Murray State guard Isaiah Canaan (who is returning to school) – or those who are straddling between being projected of being a second-round pick and going undrafted – like Texas guard J’Covan Brown (entering the draft) – no chance to gather additional information in front of NBA coaches and general managers.
That means there’s nothing left to do but make a quick decision and hope it’s the right one.
“I’m not worried about the NCAA deadline. It means nothing to me or those players,” Calipari said. “They have until the 29th to make that decision.
“If anybody else wants their players to make that decision by the (10th), that’s fine. But my players will not.”
AP Sports Writers Aaron Beard and Joedy McCreary in Raleigh, N.C., and David Brandt in Jackson, Miss., contributed to this report.