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Friday, July 1, 2011
NBA, NBPA make call on draft eligibility


While the NBA and National Basketball Player's Association haggle over a new collective bargaining agreement, remember this: The NCAA has no voice in the draft rule.

The NBA sets the draft rule, not the NCAA. The players association would like to go back to the rule allowing 18-year-old high school graduates to go directly to the NBA draft. The NBA would likely lean toward either keeping it the same (19 years old and one year out of high school) or go to two years beyond high school. Any dream scenario that calls for NCAA men's basketball to have a three-year rule won't happen.

"All of the various rules in the different sports are initiated by the leagues themselves," said Bob Williams, an executive with the NCAA. "We don't have anything to do with it. We can't have anything to do with it because of anti-trust concerns."

Major League Baseball can draft players out of high school and does so all the time. But once you go to college, you have to wait three years. The NFL has had a three-year rule out of high school, too, but there are very few high school players, if any, who would be physically fit to play in the NFL.

Williams said the wrong information on the NCAA's role with the NBA draft continues to get out.

"We can't be a part of it," Williams said. "We're not involved in the labor [agreement]. Whatever they decide to do, then we can react to it. There is no collusion with the NBA and the NCAA. That can't be further from the truth. There is no involvement with us. There can't be."

The NCAA membership is involved with the deadline to declare or withdraw from the NBA draft and what expenses can be paid during the draft process. The NCAA enacted a rule two years ago that gave underclassmen a two-week period to test from April 24 to May 8, 2011. That rule has now been pushed even further to a single date of entering the NBA draft on April 10, 2012.

So any anger or issues with the current early-entry rule must be directed at the NBA and its players association. The NCAA is adamant it has nothing to do with when a player is eligible for the draft.

Quick hitters for Friday:

• The pre-Olympic national team craze has spread. Kentucky coach John Calipari will coach the Dominican national team this summer. And Southern Miss coach Larry Eustachy will assist the Venezuelan national team in the same pre-Olympic qualifier in Argentina, according to Venezuelan head coach Eric Musselman, a former NBA coach. Musselman said Brad Greenberg, who was recently fired by Radford, will also assist. Louisville coach Rick Pitino turned down a chance to coach the Puerto Rico national team.

• BYU's addition to the WCC will force schools such as Santa Clara, San Diego, Loyola Marymount, Pepperdine and Portland to raise their game even more. Gonzaga has already been a national team for quite some time. Saint Mary's has been trying to get up to speed and upgrade its schedule. BYU now forces the issue even more since the Cougars come into the league leap-frogging everyone but Gonzaga.

• The Pac-12 welcomed Utah and Colorado on Friday. Good move for football, but we still will have to wait to see if this moves the meter for hoops. Utah has a strong basketball tradition, solid fan base and access to players. Colorado has consistently had a hard time finding its niche in the sport in the Big 12. Utah and Colorado start in the bottom and will have to see if they can wedge their way past teams like Washington State, Oregon State, Arizona State and Stanford.

• The Big Ten added Nebraska on Friday. I might be in the minority here but I don't see why Nebraska can't be consistently better than Penn State and in line with Iowa and Northwestern -- meaning every few years the Huskers are in the mix for a bid.

• Don't understand Pitino's complaints about his Big East schedule. A team should welcome a tougher conference slate for two reasons: Clearly that means your team is projected to be a title contender and more quality games means a better power rating and a shot at a decent seed.

• The NCAA tournament selection committee concluded its meeting in Park City, Utah, on Thursday. No other major news arose outside of keeping the First Four in Dayton for 2012 and '13, but according to those in attendance there were a lot of issues discussed relative to the First Four and the overall health of the tournament.

• Miami's Reggie Johnson suffered a torn meniscus in his right knee and had surgery. He'll be out four to six months. Johnson declared for the NBA draft and withdrew. If he's healthy, he's a primary reason for the Hurricanes to be a contender for an NCAA berth out of the ACC. Miami only loses one player from the NIT team (Adrian Thomas) and is led by Durand Scott and Malcolm Grant. Former Florida big man Kenny Kadji and Julian Gamble will need to play a larger role in Johnson's absence. New coach Jim Larranaga has a chance to come in and have an impact in the ACC. But he needs a space eater such as Johnson to be a major factor.