The NBA retired players association reached out to the NCAA to see if there was interest in a combine for early entrants to test the draft process.
According to Charles Smith, the retired players association executive director, there was no interest in having one during the 10 days underclassmen have now been allotted to see where they stand before making a decision on whether to stay in the draft.
It's almost impossible for prospects to get a real read on where they'd go in the draft for a number of reasons: Prospects have only one weekend to work out from April 29 to May 8, teams aren't interested in conducting workouts so early in the draft process when the official list of entrants will be available in another week, and the players are unable to work out for teams until they’ve completed final exams.
Previously, agentless underclassmen had until 10 days prior to the NBA draft to decide. That rule is still intact from the NBA, but international players will be the only group using that withdrawal date this spring.
“They don’t have a chance to be evaluated,’’ Smith said Friday of the NCAA’s new rule. “It’s not fair to the players. We wanted to host a combine, but the NCAA wasn’t for it.’’
But NCAA spokesperson Bob Williams said Friday that the combine wasn’t sponsored by the NBA or a team and that the retired players association was told it could not provide expenses or have organized competition. Williams said the NBA players association could have had drills or even some pickup games, but not kept score or had officials.
Smith said he will make another attempt in 2011 to do a combine in some form to give players a chance to make a more informed decision.
The overriding reason borderline draft picks have given coaches as to why they left for the NBA early has been the fear of a lockout and a possible lower rookie-salary scale in 2011.
Regardless, a number of fence-sitters are making their coaches sweat down to the last minute. Here is the latest through sources close to the situation:
Mike Davis and Demetri McCamey, Illinois: Coach Bruce Weber was already told Davis will return to school, which boosts the Illini's chances to mount a return trip to the NCAAs. But Weber has to still speak with McCamey, which is quite amazing considering he's unlikely to be drafted if he stays in.
JaJuan Johnson and E'Twaun Moore, Purdue: Coach Matt Painter might have to wait until Saturday’s 5 p.m. deadline to see if Johnson and Moore decide to stay in the draft. Johnson would be the more likely candidate since he’s a likely second-round pick. Moore would run the risk of going undrafted.
Ravern Johnson and Dee Bost, Mississippi State: Johnson has let the Mississippi State staff know he will likely return to school, but in a stunning development, Bost actually may look to go overseas instead of return to school. Bost has been told he can make money overseas even if he’s not selected in the draft. The Bulldogs, no stranger to waiting until the final hours of the NBA early-entry deadline, will sweat out Bost’s decision. The backcourt would be much younger without him, but the emergence of Renardo Sidney in the starting lineup after serving his nine-game suspension will help offset any departures, especially of senior Jarvis Varnado.
Alex Tyus, Florida: Tyus isn’t a first-round pick. He easily could go undrafted. But that might not stop the Gators from losing yet another player early to the NBA draft. At least in the cases of Marresse Speights and Nick Calathes the past two seasons, they were first-round talents. But when I spoke to UF coach Billy Donovan late Friday afternoon, he wasn’t sure which way Tyus would go.
Malcolm Delaney, Virginia Tech: Virginia Tech’s chances to get into the 2011 NCAA tournament took a huge step forward with the decision of Malcolm Delaney to return for his senior season. Virginia Tech coach Seth Greenberg said Friday night that Delaney will withdraw from NBA draft by Saturday’s deadline. Delaney averaged a team-high 20.2 points for the Hokies last season.
Jordan Crawford, Xavier: No word out of the Musketeers on whether Crawford will stay or go, but with Crawford considered one of the top shooting guards it’s unlikely he'll return.
Lavoy Allen, Temple: Nothing official from the Owls regarding Allen's status, but leaving would make little sense since he’s not likely to be picked in this deep draft. The Owls would be an A-10 contender again with Allen around.
Jimmer Fredette, BYU: Coach Dave Rose isn’t sure if Fredette will stay or go. The decision is expected to go down to the final hours Saturday as Fredette figures out if he’s a viable candidate in the first round. Defensive liabilities would say no shot, but it’s hard to project what he will be told in the final hours.
Darington Hobson, New Mexico: Hobson is regarded as a possible late-first round pick and for that reason Lobos coach Steve Alford expects Hobson to keep his name in the draft. He'll also be 23 years old by the time the new season rolls around. There could be a last-minute decision to return, but it doesn’t appear likely.