On April 10, the NCAA's newly imposed NBA draft decision deadline, Baylor small forward Quincy Miller announced his decision to stay in Waco, Texas for his sophomore season.
This was a rather important decision: With Miller in the fold, the Bears could sandwich a legitimately talented wing (Miller) between an experienced backcourt (Pierre Jackson, Brady Heslip) and another star-studded batch of recruits (No. 2-ranked center Isaiah Austin, No. 10-ranked power forward Ricardo Gathers) in the frontcourt. Baylor would compete for the Big 12 title for yet another season. And Miller, a major sophomore breakout candidate, would be the lynchpin of it all.
Now? Not so much. Turns out, Miller was really only concerned -- as well he should have been -- with the NBA's real, actual decision deadline, not the NCAA's. And so on Monday night, Baylor announced via a release that Miller would in fact turn pro this spring. From Andy Katz:
"In the days following his initial announcement to return to Baylor for his sophomore season," head coach Scott Drew said in a release, "we were able to gather more information and Quincy was able to reflect on his decision with his family.
"After receiving the full support of the coaching staff, Quincy thought it was in his and his family's best interest to declare for the 2012 NBA draft. Baylor Nation thanks Quincy for providing us with an outstanding season to remember and we will miss his out-going personality."
Drew's right: Miller did have an outgoing personality. My favorite moment of the year came back on Dec. 4, after the Bears' 69-41 romp at Northwestern, when a reporter confused Miller with his teammate, Perry Jones III. Miller's faux-aggrieved look and explanation -- "Whoa whoa whoa. I'm Quincy. Quincy Miller. That's crazy." -- was one of the funnier press conference moments of the season.
Of course, Baylor will miss Miller's ability most of all. Miller is a 6-foot-9 forward who plays like a guard, and while he had his share of flaws in his freshman campaign -- questionable shot selection chief among them -- his talent more often than not shone through. As the Bears' primary offensive weapon in 2012, there's a solid chance Miller could have been one of the nation's top scorers. A more efficient offensive output could have made him one of the Big 12's most productive players.
Instead, he will sail the pro seas, where according to ESPN Insider Chad Ford, Miller ranks No. 19 among all prospects, making him a potential lottery candidate if he can impress enough scouts along the way. Meanwhile, Drew will be entirely restocking his frontcourt with either recruits or reserves. Not that Drew seems to mind. As John Calipari has shown at Kentucky, there's nothing wrong with proving how quickly you can get talented players to the pros.
Anyway, what's the one resounding takeaway from all this? To my mind, Miller's decision proves "that [the NCAA draft] deadline is in fact the complete and utter joke that nearly everyone already thinks," as Rush the Court put it this morning. First, the NCAA takes a rule from the ACC's coaches and approves it with apparently minimal consideration for what it would theoretically mean for players -- that it would destroy their time to seek out information from NBA scouts and GMs about the most important decision of their lives. Then, a few weeks after the rule's first implementation, players are already blatantly ignoring it. Amazing.
The rule should never have been passed in the first place. Why should coaches' signing periods get priority over players' pro livelihoods? Now that we know the April 10 entry deadline is a farce -- now that we see how easily players and coaches can work around it, if they so choose -- repealing it should be easier than ever, right?
The NCAA passed a feckless decision deadline rule. It has no reason to exist. But if it remains, hey, at least the rule is a feckless one! It may do far less damage than we thought.