Pre-NBA Draft Workouts

Submitted by Raoul on April 22nd, 2011 at 11:28 AM

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.
A DraftExpress.com article highlighted NBA consternation at this change in the withdrawal date:
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.
The New Jersey Nets, New York Knicks, and Houston Rockets responded by setting up a mass workout of college prospects to be held May 7-8 at the Nets' practice facility in East Rutherford, New Jersey, as netsdaily.com reported:

The Nets will 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.

Comments

BlueintheLou

April 22nd, 2011 at 11:41 AM ^

At least D-Mo won't have to worry about class concerns during that time period, and hopefully he can go workout for some teams, get some decent feedback and make a good, concious decision about his future.

lunchboxthegoat

April 22nd, 2011 at 11:43 AM ^

very interesting read.  thanks for the post. seems like the NBA and NCAA are really clashing over underclassmen and the only possibly solution to all this could be a combine style similar to the NFL only BEFORE the drop dead date. I'm confused as to why the event is taking place at the same time their decision has to be made....would it have killed them to move it up at least a week?

Raoul

April 22nd, 2011 at 12:34 PM ^

I suppose this is no surprise, but it seems this clash between the NBA and NCAA ignores the interests of the players. The May 7-8 event does seem to be a step in the direction of a combine, and it does occur immediately before the withdrawal deadline. But in the proposal from the ACC coaches to move the deadline back even further, they essentially want to do away with pre-withdrawal-date workouts altogether:

"Evaluations by professional scouts and others during preseason practices, regular-season games and postseason games should provide student-athletes with adequate information to credibly determine NBA draft status."

I don't think this is true at all, and it will likely lead to even more athletes making rushed and ill-advised decisions to enter the draft.

TheTruth41

April 22nd, 2011 at 11:55 AM ^

Hopefully your comment on getting better prepared for next year is accurate. watching him this year you can just sense he's not quite ready for the NBA this year. His floor awareness is great but it would be nice if he could develop himself into a legit outside scoring threat. Probably the weakest part of his game. tough to really judge a kid that sometimes looks so awkward going to the basket and dribbling around so much to pass or penetrate. If he can make that part of his game more efficient that will surely raise his stock as well.

You can only take jn so much from these combines anyway esp with such a short viewing window. I dont see him getting a truely accurate evaluation and more than likely one that is inflated since the pro teams could really care less about you and your remaining eligibility. when was the last time anyone in any sport leaving michigan early ever given an accurate evaluation. how often were those evaluations higher than the actual draft spot (if drafted at all!)?

Mich_Faithful

April 22nd, 2011 at 12:05 PM ^

Maybe D Mo knew about the possibility of the deadline moving forward next year and that is his only opportunity to get some sort of evaluation from NBA scouts.  Get some tips and pointers about what he needs to work on for next year since it seems that there will be almost no evaluation next year for these under classman.

MI Expat NY

April 22nd, 2011 at 12:02 PM ^

Pushing up the deadline was incredibly stupid.  The option to withdraw one's name was finally a positive step for college athletes and allowed for more responsible decision making.  I also don't understand what coaches are complaining about these days.  Recruits are committing earlier than ever.  Classes are filled long before the May 8 (or proposed Apr. 28 deadline).  

Raoul

April 22nd, 2011 at 4:46 PM ^

The proposed new withdrawal deadline would actually be much earlier than April 28. Next year it would be April 10, which is the day before next year's spring signing period begins. I can see these coaches' point--they want to know who's coming back next season before that signing period begins. If you take Michigan as an example, Beilein is sort of in limbo right now as far as possibly signing someone for 2011 to replace Morris if he stays in the draft (perhaps a European player, as they seem more likely to sign in the spring than the fall). If Morris were forced to make his decision earlier, then Beilein would have a better chance of using the opened scholarship right away.

But I agree with you about recruits making early commitments--and particularly the tendency of recruits to sign LOIs during the fall early-signing period. It would be interesting to see a breakdown of the number of recruits who sign in the fall vs. the spring. It seems to me that the top recruits tend to sign in the fall.

Raoul

April 22nd, 2011 at 11:36 PM ^

I do think most top players will have already signed in the fall, so it would seem as if the actual withdrawal date shouldn't matter from a coach's perspective. On the other hand, there is the chance of snagging a late-bloomer or perhaps a Euro prospect in the spring, so I can see why some coaches would support an earlier withdrawal date.

It's also interesting that not even all the ACC coaches are that supportive of the earlier withdrawal date. In an ESPN blog post, Andy Katz got this quote from Gary Williams, head coach at Maryland:

"If you coach in the BCS leagues, you always know that it's a possibility that a player may leave or test,'' Williams said. "But you're not going to replace the player in the spring. I've lost players. Everyone has lost players."

The end paragraphs of Katz's post are also worth quoting:

The rationale listed in the legislation -- that the change gives coaches a better idea of their roster for the coming year before the recruiting period is closed -- is a farce. Few coaches can replace a player who stays in the draft with someone comparable during the spring signing period on short notice. And if the school really wanted a high-level player still available, that school or coach would go after him well before the early-entry deadline.

Memphis coach Josh Pastner may have had the most astute comment on the pending legislation.

"We might as well do this if we're not going back to what it was [in June],'' Pastner said. "The May 8 deadline doesn't do anything. Players can't work out until they're done with classes, and that may not be until early May anyway. So if it's not going to be a date in June, then it might as well be in April.''

If the NCAA presidents sign off on the legislation, that's exactly what will happen. There will no longer be any testing of the waters. You will either be in or out in early April.

Wolverine In Exile

April 22nd, 2011 at 12:12 PM ^

thanks for the read.. I remembered the Moody bible College workout camps in Chicago back in the late 90's / early 2000's as the place where basically all the realistic underclassmen would go with the seniors and they'd play / workout and get a chance to talk to basicallly all the NBA teams at once. Then the withdraw name date was like a week after that. Wish the NBA and NCAA would just work this out where it's reasonable for eveybody.

One extended weekend camp in a city easy to get to (Chicago, Indy, St Louis, etc), GM's and coaches only allowed (no agents), right before the NBA playoffs started. Everybody gets eval'd, no college kids get screwed forfeiting their eligibility on promises made by skeezy agents, and NBA gusy don't have to hold open tryouts for every kids they're potentially interested in. And have the evals done by an NBA equivalent of NHL Central Scouting so there's no team bias.

PM

April 22nd, 2011 at 12:56 PM ^

Off topic: Actually, those Chicago area workouts date to the early 90's.  I rode up an elevator with Dikimbe Mutombo back in '92 when he was in town for the workout. (I think it was '92). Regardless, they were doing back when I lived there from '92 - '94. 

It's interesting standing next to a 7'3" man when you only stand 5'7" yourself. Mutombo makes a very good impression as a solid person, fwiw, regardless of your thoughts on him as a bball player.

A few years later I rode up an elevator with Stanley Roberts out in Phoenix. He is/was a scary person. I was happy to get off that elevator.

DeuceInTheDeuce

April 22nd, 2011 at 1:50 PM ^

The NCAA's brand has shifted from one of fairness and serving the interests of student athletes, to revenue maximization and the interests of cornerstone institutions.  I'm sure they would argue that 1) that's not true and 2) even if it were true, that money would trickle down to students and thus would be in the students' best interests. Needless to say, I'm skeptical of things that involve compromising core principles for any benefit, and considerably more so for benefits of the trickle-down variety.

Raoul

April 23rd, 2011 at 10:46 AM ^

In light of the possibility that Darius Morris is simply going through a dry run this year in preparation for entering the draft next year, I found the comments of Temple's Ramone Moore interesting. He just announced he's entering the draft without hiring an agent. A story at philly.com seems to indicate that he's doing this just to get an evaluation of his NBA prospects without having any intention of actually staying in the draft:

"I'm basically just testing the water just to see what the scouts think," said the 6-foot-4 shooting guard, who added that he will not hire an agent. "I'm trying to get in some workouts.

"I'm looking forward to coming back to school next year. This is just a good opportunity to show where I stand for next year."

But there's also a report at csnphilly.com that makes it sound like he's more serious about staying in the draft and a rationale (that I've bolded) for why Moore and perhaps Morris would stay in the draft when it earlier appeared they'd be better off staying in school for another year.

“He was debating whether would he even declare or not, because it’s his goal to bring another A-10 championship to Temple and go deep in the NCAA tournament next year,” one source close to Moore said. “But on the same token, he’s heard that, with so many people pulling out the draft and the great year he’s had, he has a chance to be picked in the NBA draft. He hasn’t ruled out coming back to school, but he hasn’t ruled out staying in the draft either.”

This part of the philly.com report is also of interest:

Moore said he is trying to get invited to the New Jersey Nets' group workout May 7-8, among other opportunities to perform in front of NBA teams.

One other note in regard to the group workout: There is an NCAA letter from last year--Information Regarding the 2010 National Basketball Association (NBA) Draft, Agents, and Tryouts--that would appear to indicate that those invited to the group workout won't have to pay the expense of attending it:

4. Can NBA teams pay for my private workouts/tryouts?
YES! You may tryout with an NBA team during the academic year if you are enrolled full-time as long as you do not miss class. You may receive actual and necessary expenses from the NBA team in conjunction with one 48-hour tryout per team. The 48-hour tryout period begins when you arrive at the tryout location. At the completion of the 48-hour period you must depart the location of the tryout immediately in order to receive transportation expenses.

Raoul

April 25th, 2011 at 10:01 AM ^

For the record (and according to a subsequent csnphilly.com report), Moore pulled a 180 and decided not to enter his name in the draft and "test the waters"--possibly because he wasn't sure of getting an invite to the big workout in New Jersey:

If Moore had declared for the draft, he was hoping to be invited to the May 7-8 group workout for underclassmen hosted by the New Jersey Nets, which is expected to include scouts from all 30 NBA teams.
 
“The guy I talked to (from the New Jersey Nets) said there was an 80 percent chance he would get invited if he declared,” the source said, “but I guess that wasn’t enough.”

Hail Beilein

April 24th, 2011 at 5:21 AM ^

watching the Michigan/Tennessee game just because I can and the more I think about it, it seems to me Darius is gone. With much of the premium talent staying in school, a huge window is opening up for Darius that will likely be narowed, if not closed, next year (the same year a lot of people seem to think he would be "better off" waiting to leave), whether he goes in the first or second round.
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<br>He led the B1G in assists. Where to go from there? Outside shooting and his left are his weaknesses and everybody wants him to develop those at Michigan. That's great for Michigan fans, but is that necessarily best for Darius? Every rookie has weaknesses. Check their scouting report. The main thing Darius possesses is size. That in itself makes him NBA ready. I think he could go to the league and work on his left and his shot a lot more intensively than he could at Michigan.
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<br>Also, and this is just me, but Darius seems kind of resentful to me. Following him on twitter as I'm sure many of you do, he seems detached. Seeing him use the hashtag #leaguebound at one point was somewhat sad to see.
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<br>The way I'm approaching the situation, he is gone. If he goes to the league, he will instantly be my favorite player. If he comes back, I'll jump up and down for joy and scream at the top of my lungs in elation. It just seems like, in situations like these, players tend to stay in the draft, not pull their names out. At least this time, Michigan will be ready with another PG ready to step up whenever Darius decides to leave.

Raoul

April 24th, 2011 at 11:11 AM ^

Comments like the following one from a Hoops Report item make me tend to agree with you that Morris is now more likely to stay in the draft than pull out. But it could come down to how well he performs in any workouts he takes part in.

Darius Morris is also all over the board, but not as much as Shumpert. Many scouts don't see him [meaning Morris] as a first round pick but one executive said "I love him." As many scouts told me in Portsmouth, "It only takes one team."