at least it's not just us?
One possible factor in Darius Morris's decision to enter the draft is this year's change in the deadline for withdrawing from the draft. Prior to this year, that deadline was set at ten days before the draft, which is held in late June. According to this Sporting News article, the NCAA changed this year's date to May 8 at the behest of coaches from the ACC:
Coaches from the Atlantic Coast Conference complained this was causing problems with knowing what players they would have on their rosters for the following season. They successfully pushed for a rule change that instituted an NCAA withdrawal date for early May, giving college underclassmen almost no useful time to establish their value to NBA teams.
This unilateral deadline imposed by the NCAA has been widely criticized by members of the basketball industry, as it is clearly a self-serving rule intended to protect the NCAA's interests by severely restricting players' ability to explore their professional options.
This deadline has put a significant amount of pressure on NBA teams to evaluate a huge group of players in a short and highly inconvenient period of time, then disperse valuable information about those players that could influence whether or not to keep their name in the draft. This is an exercise most NBA teams were not happy to participate in last year.
With the way the rules are currently set up, players have a window of only 10 days to decide whether or not to withdraw – from the time the early-entry list is officially released to teams (typically four days after the deadline, April 28) to the date the NCAA has legislated underclassmen must declare their intentions in writing to the school's Director of Athletics, May 8.
Since the NCAA also restricts student athletes from missing class to “try out for a professional team,” players are essentially relegated to the weekends of April 29 and May 6 (the same date as the Euroleague Final Four) to attend NBA workouts and get an accurate reflection of their draft stock – something that is virtually impossible due to the logistics involved.
Thewill host a mass workout for draft prospects the weekend of May 7-8 as a way of helping college underclassmen get around an NCAA rule requiring a go or no go decision by that weekend. Although only underclassmen are [affected] by the rule, the workout at PNY Center is open to all [i.e., seniors and international players may also attend].
Also worth noting from that article: "Unlike other workouts in the past, this one will include 5-on-5 scrimmages as well as the usual measurements and interviews." The rules for these workouts had previously held that no more than six players could be on the court at one time. All 30 NBA teams are expected to be there. (Also from netsdaily.com, this page provides a good rundown of NBA draft-related deadlines and events--just ignore the Nets-specific info.)
Given the speculation by some that Morris is simply going through this process as an exercise to better prepare himself for next year, what better way to do that than to participate in this first-of-its-kind mass workout/combine? That's the positive the way to look at this. On the negative side (from the selfish point of view of a Michigan fan, that is), participating in this type of workout certainly provides an opportunity for him to improve on the evaluation he's already received from the NBA. Either way, if he does participate he'll need to make a very quick decision on whether or not to withdraw his name.
Additional note: USA Today story from yesterday says that 44 players will participate in the May 7-8 workout but doesn't name them. The story also says the withdrawal date may be moved up even more next year:
Underclassmen could have even less time to make their decision next year. An NCAA proposal, which will be voted on April 28, "would require student-athletes interested in 'testing the waters' of the NBA draft to remove their name from consideration before the first day of the Spring National Letter of Intent signing period."
This year, the first day of the spring signing period was April 13, about a week after the NCAA men's championship game.
Story has a long quote from the ACC giving their rationale for the proposed change.
2011 Michigan Basketball Banquet Awards
Bill Buntin Most Valuable Player Award: Darius Morris
Rudy Tomjanovich Most Improved Player Award: Jordan Morgan
Wayman Britt Outstanding Defensive Player Award: Stu Douglass
Steve Grote Hustle Award: Zack Novak
Thad Garner Leadership Award: Zack Novak
Travis Conlan Sportsmanship Award: Stu Douglass
Bodnar Award for Academic Achievement: Zack Novak
Gary Grant Award for Most Assists: Darius Morris
Loy Vaught Rebounding Award: Zack Novak
Award for Outstanding Free Throw Shooting: Zack Novak
Sixth Man Award: Evan Smotrycz
Iron Man Award: Zack Novak
Charge Award: Zack Novak
Nothing too surprising. I'm glad Stu was recognized for his defense - I feel so many people overlook that part of his game. He's a pretty good off-the-ball defender.
I also love that we have a "Charge Award." I'm sure Sparty loathes that.
His brother DeWayne Morris Jr. said tonight that Darius will gauge his pro potential now that his sophomore season at U-M is concluded. “He’s going to test the waters,” DeWayne said. “He’s not going to hire an agent. He’s going to go through the process as if he was going to enter the draft.”
According to the article, Morris informed Beilein of his decision earlier this week.
DeWayne said Darius has until April 24 to declare for the draft and until May 8 to withdraw if Darius wants to return to school.
I mentioned in the D. Morris thread that Darius Morris with his six assists against Duke had passed Rumeal Robinson (233 in 1988-89) and Gary Grant (234 in 1987-88) to become the all-time single-season leader in assists at Michigan with 235 (as Rothstein reported in an annarbor.com article). His 6.7 assist average for the season is second only to Grant's 6.9 average for 1987-88 (Grant played in one fewer game that season than Morris did this season--34 vs. 35).
It's also worth noting that Morris accomplished this as a sophomore, whereas Grant was a senior in 87-88 and Robinson was a junior in 88-89. Also, in that other thread, enlightenedbum made a good point about Morris besting Grant and Robinson in total season assists:
That's super crazy because of the pace we played at in the late 80s compared to now.
The numbers bear this out: Michigan had 847 made field goals this season, compared to 1,197 in 87-88 and 1,325 in 88-89.
This brings up a related way to assess Morris's season: percentage of team field goals a player either assists or scores--a measure I first saw used in a Wall Street Journal article from February. His 201 field goals and 235 assists mean Morris was involved in 436 of the team's field goals--or 51.5% of the 847 total.
- Robinson in 88-89 was involved in 432 of his team's field goals (199 FGs + 233 assists), or 32.6% of the team total
- Grant in 87-88 was involved in 503 of his team's field goals (269 FGs + 234 assists), or 42% of the team total
Note that when the WSJ did their analysis of this statistic to determine what they called "backcourt MVPs," Morris came out on top among players from the top 10 conferences in the country.
Morris set another Michigan record this year: most 10-plus assist games in a season. He had seven of those, which topped the six each that Grant and Robinson totaled in the same seasons noted above.
As I mentioned in the other thread, if Morris can manage to put together another season like this one next year, he'll have to be considered one of the top point guards in Michigan history.