When it comes to advising their NBA prospects on their decisions to stay or leave, college basketball coaches face a challenging conundrum. If a player is ready, he should go. If he isn't, he should stay. But it's tough to deliver that news and seem unbiased at the same time. If the prospect believes his coach is sugarcoating the situation, trust is lost, and the entire purpose of the coach's advice is lost with it.
The latest example: Michigan coach John Beilein. Like most coaches with underclassman prospects, Beilein was advising point guard Darius Morris on the pros and cons of his NBA draft hopes. Unlike most coaches, though, Beilein says he decided to avoid giving Morris a definitive, specific "stay" or "go." From the Detroit Free Press:
"I stayed away from that," Beilein said, a day after U-M announced Morris will remain in the draft. "I was giving them the facts as accurately as I could get them at the time."
He said Morris and his family "spent a lot of time on this to look at their options and talked at length. They had enough information to say, 'This is what we want to do.' "
In the end, Morris seemed determined to follow through on his decision for weeks before the actual announcement, and his late rise up the draft boards certainly helped contribute to that decision.
What's interesting, though, is whether coaches will take (or already have taken) this sort of tact with their NBA prospects in the coming years. In 2012, when the NCAA eliminates players' abilities to test the waters, a coach's advice could be one of the best ways for prospects to gather information about their situations. How coaches handle that crucial responsibility in the face of the impending deadline changes could be fascinating to watch.