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Revisiting the early entry rule

SPECIAL TO ESPN.COM

May 28, 2008

If I was a current Division I head basketball coach, I would be upset with the rules involving early entry cases into the NBA. Right now, underclassmen can declare for the draft and have a deadline of June 16 to withdraw and return to college.

Think about the unbelievable chaos that creates for the college basketball coaches. I honestly believe most coaches, if they had it their way, would tell those declaring for the NBA draft to stay in, so be it. If a player thinks he is really ready for the big leagues, let it happen. Unfortunately a lot of kids get these thoughts in their head, or have people telling them they are lock city to go in the first round and get the guaranteed contract and big bucks.

My friends, that is not the case. In all, 69 players from U.S. universities put their name in the hopper, declaring early for the NBA draft. Yes, several have pulled out already and you know many more will before the June 16 deadline.

In my opinion, this process is doing damage to college basketball. A coach now has to figure out if he can get a late recruit in, or should he wait and save a scholarship hoping his player pulls out of the draft.

Once he enters the draft and makes the decision to go to the pros, the player shouldn't have all that time to return to school. Think of what it does. It influences decisions of coaches and a young guy should know if he is a legitimate pro prospect, ready for the day-to-day rigors.

This constant chaos is not good for the game. I know some schools support players taking a look and finding out what the real world is all about. Antonio Anderson of Memphis is a solid player, but he is not ready for the NBA and took his name off the list. Guys like Jerel McNeal at Marquette, Alonzo Gee of Alabama and Leo Lyons of Missouri are among those that tested the waters and withdrew from the early entry process.

I know some people believe the solution is moving up the deadline for pulling out of the draft to mid-May. I am not sure that will work. Coaches are trying to build the foundation for their program looking ahead to the upcoming season. Instead there is uncertainty.

In some cases, this situation comes back and haunts a player. He goes to a camp, doesn't do as well and now he is labeled as damaged goods. He will not be able to market himself in a positive way.

Oh well, keep an eye on players pulling out and returning to the college campuses.

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