- Andy Katz, ESPN Senior Writer
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Florida International guard Raymond Taylor was pulled from the team's game against Bethune-Cookman on Thursday to allow the school to further investigate whether he's eligible after withdrawing from the 2012 NBA draft after the NCAA deadline of April 10.
FIU coach Anthony Evans told ESPN after the Panthers' 82-67 win at Bethune-Cookman that his administration called him and said he couldn't use Taylor, who was with the team on the trip. Evans said it caught him off guard and he was still in the fact-finding stage and would meet with the administration Friday.
The 5-foot-6 senior guard led the Panthers (6-2) with 18 points and seven assists in a win over Stetson Monday and is averaging 13.2 points and a team-high six assists a game.
Taylor sat out last season under then-FIU coach Richard Pitino. Pitino, now the head coach at Minnesota, said after the Gophers' win over Wofford on Thursday that he was told by FIU that Taylor was eligible upon transferring from Florida Atlantic.
Earlier Thursday, ESPN contacted the NCAA for clarification on Taylor's eligibility since he withdrew from the draft after the NCAA deadline. Taylor's name appeared on the official NBA early-entry list in a release dated, May 3, 2012. He is in his own category as a collegian who had withdrawn from the NBA draft on the final early-entry list, dated June 20, 2012.
NCAA spokesperson Stacey Osburn said in an email Thursday that a player can declare one time for the draft without losing their eligibility "as long as they are not drafted by a professional team and as long as they declare their intention to resume playing for their college team before the first day of the spring signing period, typically in April."
Taylor did not. Based on the NBA releases, Taylor waited until sometime between May 3 and June 20 -- after the early-signing period began -- to withdraw.
Osburn said the timeline was adopted in 2011 for the sole purpose of giving players a chance to "make a decision earlier than in the past to focus on either academics or athletics and also give coaches more flexibility with roster planning and recruiting."
The significance of allowing Taylor to play this season and redshirt a year ago, despite not withdrawing at the NCAA-mandated time, would be that an exception was made for Taylor that other players potentially weren't allowed to have the past two seasons. Players cannot sign with an agent and maintain eligibility, but there are other players who might have chosen to go back to school if they could have waited until the NBA withdrawal deadline of late June.
Recent criticism of the NBA draft rule has been that players don't have enough time to work out for teams to see if they could land in the first or even second round before having to make a decision. True testing of the draft process no longer exists under this rule since players don't work out for teams or go to the NBA draft combine in Chicago since both occur after the mid-April NCAA deadline.
The NCAA deadline has no bearing on being available for the NBA draft; it is strictly an NCAA eligibility date. Taylor did abide by the NBA draft withdrawal deadline, but not the NCAA's in 2012, and as a result his eligibility is currently in question.