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With 108 on early-entry list, draft gets wackier


May 19, 2005
What has happened with underclassmen declaring for the NBA draft? It is absolutely wacky, baby!

Check out these numbers: there are 108 early-entry players on the official list for the NBA draft – including 61 college underclassmen, 12 high schoolers and 35 international players.

But the NBA draft only has two rounds, 30 picks per round, for a total of 60 picks overall! And remember, only the 30 first-rounders get guaranteed contracts. The second-rounders have to scrap and claw just to make an NBA roster.

A number of players who have declared simply don't belong in the draft discussion at all.
Plus, does anyone realize how the college underclassmen are basically holding their coaches hostage? For those early-entry kids who haven't signed an agent, coaches won't know how many are returning to school until June 21, the deadline for withdrawing from the June 28 draft. And one player can totally change the complexion of your roster.

What is a college coach supposed to do? Isn't he supposed to make sure he covers his bases in case the player who declared doesn't return to school? But he can't give out a scholarship right away in case the kid comes back.

It's a troubling situation, and Division I coaches across America have every right to be upset with this scenario.

It is time for everyone to sit down – the NCAA, the NBA, the players union and the coaching fraternity – and come up with suitable solutions to these problems. There is something terribly wrong when the list of early-entries far outnumbers the total draft slots available. Too many players are getting bad advice about their draft stock and lots of kids will get hurt, with many becoming basketball vagabonds.

It is time for some positive steps toward change, because this is absolutely ludicrous. Yes, it's true that some of these underclassmen will pull out of the draft and return to school, but they've put their coaches through a lot of stress in the process.

A number of players who have declared simply don't belong in the draft discussion at all. Can't people see this chaos is not healthy for the game? Both the NBA and the college game are being damaged.

This is breaking up stability in the game, and it is time for action.

In a previous column, I proposed a solution: that every player who goes to college stays for three years (similar to the college rules for baseball and football). I hope those making decisions about the game of basketball will do the right thing.

Dick Vitale coached the Detroit Pistons and the University of Detroit before broadcasting ESPN's first college basketball game in 1979. Send a question to Vitale for possible use on ESPNEWS.

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