UK Men's Basketball

Numbers say new NCAA ruling on NBA Draft deadline unlikely to affect UK recruiting

John Calipari on new draft rule

Kentucky coach John Calipari talks about new rule that allows players to come back to school after attending NBA Draft Combine.
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Kentucky coach John Calipari talks about new rule that allows players to come back to school after attending NBA Draft Combine.

While a new NCAA ruling that extends the deadline for entering the NBA Draft might lead to more informed decisions by UK’s current players, recent trends indicate it’s unlikely to have much of an effect on recruiting.

The ruling, which was announced Wednesday and goes into effect immediately for the 2016 draft, allows college basketball players the opportunity to enter their names in the NBA Draft without risking future eligibility.

Starting this year, a player can enter his name in the draft and does not have to withdraw from the draft until 10 days after the conclusion of the NBA Draft combine. That makes this year’s withdrawal date May 25. A player can also enter the draft every year without risking eligibility.

All players who enter their names in the draft will eligible to be invited to the combine. They can also work out for one NBA team individually for further feedback.

Previously, players had to withdraw their names from the draft by the day before the early signing period in mid-April — a month before the NBA Combine — and were only permitted to enter the draft and withdraw their names once during their college career.

The rule, which was recommended last year by the Men’s Basketball Oversight Committee, was the result of a collaboration among the NCAA, NBA and the National Association of Basketball Coaches.

“The cooperation between the NCAA, NBA and NABC was vital to the success of this idea,” said committee chair Dan Guerrero, the athletics director at UCLA. “We reached an excellent outcome that will undoubtedly benefit every group involved, most importantly the student-athlete,” Guerrero said. “We all worked toward the same goal – providing students and their families with the opportunity to assess their future professional sports prospects in a realistic timeline. The rule change will allow students the chance to pursue their dreams while still preserving their ability to play collegiately.”

UK Coach John Calipari has long been a proponent of the rule change and said last year that he was “ecstatic” over the proposal by the oversight committee. He again voiced support for the rule change during his press conference Thursday afternoon.

“Let them get the right information, the real information, from the NBA,” Calipari said. “And then if they choose to come back, let them come back. So what’ll happen is, just about every player on your team should declare for the draft to see if they get invited to the combine. Now, they don’t get invited to the combine, probably you’re not getting drafted.”

In the past, Calipari would meet with each of his players following the season’s final game and see who was interested in entering the NBA Draft. He would then speak to contacts in the NBA to gauge the draft stock of each player and share that information with the player in a second meeting.

He said Thursday that those meetings usually last “2-4 minutes” and the new process will allow his players to get much more detailed feedback from NBA officials. Calipari said if these guidelines were in effect in years past, it might have persuaded some of his players to come back for another year in college rather than entering the draft.

“I think it’s good for the game,” he said. “It’s good for the student-athletes. You hate for a young man to start his career and be told one thing and you know it’s not true. And you look at him like, ‘Why?’ … Now you’re hearing it from GMs, player personnel directors, the NBA – they can say, ‘You need to go back to school.’

“This will give those kids the opportunity to know (the truth).”

When asked how the new timetable might affect recruiting, Calipari said he didn’t know.

Recent numbers say UK’s recruiting targets have not been waiting for current players to make their stay-or-go decisions, meaning the new process should have little to no effect on UK’s recruiting efforts.

In his past six recruiting classes, 25 of Calipari’s 32 signees have actually signed with Kentucky during the early period in November, months before current players make their NBA decisions public.

Only two of UK’s five-star signees since 2010 have waited until the late signing period to make their college decisions. Nerlens Noel committed to UK on April 11 of his senior year. Jamal Murray waited until May 27 to commit to the Cats.

Of the other five UK signees since 2010 who did not sign early, three of them were not heavily recruited by Calipari until late in the process: Dominique Hawkins, Isaac Humphries and Mychal Mulder.

The other two late signees — Dakari Johnson and Julius Randle in the class of 2013 — made their college decisions before April 1 of their senior years.

Calipari said Thursday to give the new process time to see how it affects other parts of the game, such as recruiting.

“This needs to run for a couple of years so we can really see the result,” he said. “We had to do something. It wasn’t fair for these kids.”

UK recruits who have signed in early period (since 2010)

  • Edrice “Bam” Adebayo (2015)
  • De’Aaron Fox (2015)
  • Wenyen Gabriel (2015)
  • Sacha Killeya-Jones (2015)
  • Malik Monk (2015)
  • Tai Wynyard* (2015)
  • Isaiah Briscoe (2014)
  • Skal Labissiere (2014)
  • Charles Matthews (2014)
  • Devin Booker (2013)
  • Trey Lyles (2013)
  • Karl-Anthony Towns (2013)
  • Tyler Ulis (2013)
  • Aaron Harrison (2012)
  • Andrew Harrison (2012)
  • Marcus Lee (2012)
  • Derek Willis (2012)
  • James Young (2012)
  • Willie Cauley-Stein (2011)
  • Archie Goodwin (2011)
  • Alex Poythress (2011)
  • Anthony Davis (2010)
  • Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (2010)
  • Marquis Teague (2010)
  • Kyle Wiltjer (2010)

*Enrolled mid-season