Decision time draws near for fence-sitters

April, 29, 2010

The NBA officially released the early entrant list Thursday. Teams were allowed to start working out players Thursday as well.

But it was silent in the workout world, as no teams were expected to hold a workout.

Nineteen of the 31 teams responded to an poll Wednesday, and only two -- the Lakers and Blazers -- said they would hold a workout over the next week before the May 8 deadline for NCAA early entrants who haven't signed with an agent to return to school.

Early entrants can't work out for teams if they're still going to class, so exams have to be done before workouts.

"It's interesting," BYU coach Dave Rose said Thursday. "A lot of teams told us they're going to start working out guys on the ninth of May."

That's because NBA teams no longer want to play the game and work out players who aren't seriously considering staying in the draft. Having a number of high-ranking NBA personnel in Europe this week doesn't help underclassmen attempting to make decisions, either.

So what are some of the fence-sitters going to do this week to help make their decision?

Rose said guard Jimmer Fredette intends to work out with a few teams. But there's no guarantee Fredette will have a number of workouts to attend.

Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy said Terrico White has one workout scheduled next Friday, the day before the deadline.

That workout is expected to be in Portland where the Blazers may hit the maximum allowed and bring in 12 players in two six-player sessions during the day.

The shortened window for players to declare for the draft, from two months to one week, was supposed to help coaches in recruiting and figuring out their roster for the next season. But with BYU and Ole Miss it won't matter. Neither is going to replace the caliber of player like Fredette or White for 2010-11.

"The shortened window isn't going to help regardless," Kennedy said.

Rose actually has a game on hold that is directly tied to Fredette's return. He has scheduled a game in Fredette's hometown of Glen Falls, N.Y., against Vermont on Dec. 8. If Fredette returns, the game will be a rare BYU home game just north of Albany, N.Y.

Kentucky coach John Calipari said he had three teams who he trusted that would work out freshman guard Eric Bledsoe in the next week so he could get a true gauge of his status. Of the three aforementioned players, Bledsoe is probably the one lock for the first round. White would have a chance to be selected late in the first round, and Fredette would have to earn his way.

None of these three is in the category of Butler's Gordon Hayward. He's a lock for the lottery if he decides to stay in the draft.

His draft position is the reason Hayward doesn't need to work out for anyone this week. If he stays in the draft, he'll probably work out for only a handful of teams in the lottery.

Butler coach Brad Stevens said Thursday that Hayward has sat down with a few agents to get a vibe of the process and see where he stands.

"He's trying to decide if he's two feet in or not," Stevens said. "From the way he played this year, it certainly made him a marketable guy."

Stevens said Hayward has final exams Friday, Saturday and Monday, so there was no thought of working out this weekend.

He said Hayward paid to work out with a trainer in Indianapolis to get his body in better shape. But that's the extent of anything extra at this point.

"He got good feedback, and his ceiling is high enough that people really like him early," Stevens said. "But he hasn't made a decision yet."

If Hayward returns, the Bulldogs are a top-5 team. Ole Miss has a shot to be the SEC West favorite if White returns. BYU will likely be the pick to win the MWC if Fredette comes back. Bledsoe could be the star guard on a reloaded Kentucky squad that expects to challenge for the SEC East title again.

Quick hitters

• I spoke with C.J. Leslie Wednesday night, and he said that teams did negatively recruit against NC State but that he didn't buy any of it. He said he had been around the Wolfpack program and knew that coach Sidney Lowe is safe for next season. Leslie said that his joining incoming freshmen Ryan Harrow and Lorenzo Brown gives the Wolfpack a terrific class. I concur. The Wolfpack should have one of the top three recruiting classes in the ACC, which should make NC State a possible top-5 team in the league next season.

• North Carolina coach Roy Williams said John Henson finally crossed the 200-pound weight line. Henson, who will stay in Chapel Hill to work out this summer, had some quality games in the NIT with 12 and 14 points in road wins at Mississippi State and UAB. Meanwhile, Williams said point guard Larry Drew II made much better decisions during that six-game NIT run but still commits too many turnovers. But Henson and Drew were probably two of the more positive developments for the Tar Heels during their NIT run.

Carolina's schedule isn't done yet, but the Tar Heels will get Kentucky at home; go on the road for the ACC-Big Ten Challenge; play Texas in Greensboro, N.C.; take Tyler Zeller back near his hometown to play at Evansville; and face Rutgers at Madison Square Garden. North Carolina is also the headline team in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off Classic in San Juan with West Virginia, Minnesota, Vanderbilt, Hofstra, Davidson, Nebraska and Western Kentucky.

• Gonzaga has been Guard U under Mark Few, and there is a feeling among the Zags faithful that they may have landed their best shooter yet. Gonzaga picked up a commitment from Gary Bell Jr. out of Kent, Wash., from the Class of 2011. Bell was being recruited by all the top Pac-10 schools.

Andy Katz | email

ESPN Senior Writer


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