The NBA has clarified its lockout rules to enable team personnel to attend college practices for the purpose of scouting, according to NBA spokesman Tim Frank.
College practices began last week, and it was previously understood that executives and scouts would not be able to observe private workout sessions. Games would have been open to scouts, but being able to travel from campus to campus to attend practices now gives them another month before the start of the season to evaluate talent.
With a 2012 NBA draft class expected to be a strong one given the big names who chose to return to school this season, the clarification allows scouts to observe players behind the scenes and fill up their notebooks with nuggets of information from an up-close perspective that could pay dividends in June.
NBA team personnel still may not have interactions with college players at practices and cannot access locker rooms. But the NBA enabling scouts to do legwork at practice gives teams more information to make their draft choices. From the under-the-radar prospects to the lottery-pick talents who chose school rather than the uncertainty of a lockout, those players will now presumably be more properly evaluated.
At a time when NBA front offices are not permitted to contact their own players during the lockout, scouting the college game could become a point of emphasis for teams, according to NBA.com.
In fact, 2011-12 could turn into the most heavily scouted college season ever, depending on the length of the work stoppage and financial constraints because of the lockout.
"Teams, instead of one person at a (college) game, there could be two," one front-office veteran said. "They'll want to do something. There's only so much sitting around you can do."