Pre-draft changes could have major consequences

April, 17, 2009
Texas A&M's Donald Sloan declared for the draft Friday.

Don't expect the first-round draft order to change. The same was true after the declarations of Miami's Dwayne Collins, Arizona's Nic Wise and even Gonzaga's Austin Daye.

They all want to "test the draft process." But how many of these players really believe they can contribute in the NBA?

There is no more Orlando pre-draft camp. The only thing is a few random drills in Chicago followed by medical testing and interviews. A number of NBA teams have told they don't know how much personnel they will send to Chicago to watch a few players go through ballhandling drills.

A questionnaire went out to see what kind of drills the teams want, and at least one team said to "five-on-five." That's not going to happen. The only chance for scrimmages already occurred at the Portsmouth Invitational last week. That was for seniors who are marginal draft picks. Underclassmen will not go through a five-on-five before the draft.

The underclassmen, especially those who aren't locks for the first round, can start going to NBA workouts after the April 26 deadline passes and the official early-entry list comes out. Seniors can start now. Teams aren't even allowed to contact underclassmen with agents until after the early-entry list is official.

How much will these players really test the draft process if there is no scrimmaging? Will a few teams really give them a true picture of their status?

Daye couldn't handle the physical aspect of the college game. Is he suddenly going to be able to deal with it during workouts and be ready to play in the NBA? Sloan and Collins didn't dominate their positions in college. Are they going to be tantalizing enough to warrant a committed pick? Wise might just want to get out of Arizona instead of playing for his fourth coach in four years. That's understandable, but don't expect to hear his name called in the first round, either.

Some players just don't want to be in college anymore. That's fine. That's their prerogative. But there will once again be a number of disappointed players on draft night if a majority of these underclassmen stay in the draft.

The ACC put forth a proposal to get rid of the testing process. It is now up for discussion, but needs to be tweaked. The more the NBA limits "testing" opportunities without a real draft camp, the more moot it becomes to even go through the charade of "testing." The NBA still controls the dates of declaring and withdrawing from the draft, and that won't change until the new collective bargaining agreement, regardless of an NCAA rule. But the NCAA could make a player ineligible as soon as he declares for the draft. That's within its rights.

It's getting closer to where that might be the right course of action: If you're in, you're in. I've gone back and forth on this over the years, but without a real representative camp, it makes it seem highly unlikely that fringe players -- the ones who really are testing the process, not the locks for the lottery or mid-first who say they won't get an agent yet -- will get any kind of true read on their position in the draft.

• Xavier Henry, the one-time Memphis signee, is deciding between Kansas and Kentucky. St. John's is waiting desperately for Henry to make up his mind. If Henry goes to Kansas, the Red Storm are fairly confident they can land program-changing shooting guard Lance Stephenson. If Henry goes to Kentucky, then Kansas might get Stephenson. It's an interesting dynamic considering that St. John's coach Norm Roberts is a former assistant and good friend of Kansas' Bill Self. But this is business. In a perfect world for all parties, Henry goes to Kansas and Stephenson to St. John's, and in an indirect way, one friend can help another. Roberts could use some good news by landing a marquee New York City recruit that would help not only on the court but also in attracting more local fans for the Red Storm this season.

• John Wall was quoted in The Charlotte Observer as saying he wasn't going to mess with the NBA. That's good news for college basketball. Wall can make North Carolina into a favorite for the title if he chooses the Tar Heels, and could possibly elevate Duke to similar status if he decided on the Blue Devils. He could also make Miami and NC State into NCAA tournament teams, and could possibly do the same with Baylor. He could also clearly transform Florida into an SEC contender with him starting at the point next to newcomers Kenny Boynton and Vernon Macklin. And there's no limit to how good Kentucky could be if Jodie Meeks and Patrick Patterson decide to come back and John Calipari is able to bring Wall into the fold.

• Complaint department: College coaches aren't happy and are pointing fingers, wondering who decided to limit April recruiting. The coaches are in a bind. The new rules limit evaluations to high schools. So that means next Monday through Wednesday, college coaches will be out hoping to see prospects work out. They can go out on Thursday, but a number of the players leave for a weekend event that college coaches can't attend anymore. A number of coaches have said that this new format isn't cost-effective. UCLA coach Ben Howland will be in three different locations Monday through Wednesday instead of going to one locale to watch a number of players. The losers in all of this are the non-elite players who won't get ample opportunities to be seen. Not being able to see a mass group of players hurts new coaches, like Florida International's Isiah Thomas (assuming he passes his compliance test).

• New Kentucky coach John Calipari is expected to talk to Manhattan head coach Barry Rohrssen about an assistant coaching position, according to multiple sources. Calipari brought with him three members of his Memphis staff: John Robic, Rod Strickland and Orlando Antigua.

• With Saint Mary's Patty Mills announcing he has declared for the draft, that leaves just a handful of headline names to formally announce: Davidson junior guard Stephen Curry, North Carolina junior guards Ty Lawson and Wayne Ellington and Duke junior guard Gerald Henderson.

• Memphis coach Josh Pastner went ahead and hired his top two assistants, former Rice head coach Willis Wilson and former Kentucky assistant Glynn Cyprien, the school officially announced Friday. These are two fantastic hires for the 31-year-old first-year head coach.

Pastner needed to find a former head coach to help him with daily chores, from dealing with the rest of campus to scheduling to mapping out a 12-month plan. Wilson will do extremely well in this regard. He also has an impeccably clean record with the NCAA and knows how to manage the academic side at an institution like Rice. He's also familiar with Conference USA, something Pastner is still getting used to since he just arrived in the league last year.

Cyprien is well-versed in recruiting in nearly every time zone in the mainland after working at Kentucky, Oklahoma State and UNLV.

To fill out his staff, Pastner is also looking at former Arizona manager Jack Murphy, who is currently working with the Denver Nuggets.

Andy Katz | email

ESPN Senior Writer



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