In The Money: Second-round picks cash-in guaranteed contracts at exceedingly high rates

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The first thing you hear whenever any underclassmen says that they are testing the waters of the NBA draft is that they should return to school if they are not going to be a first round pick because they are not going to get any guaranteed money from an NBA team.

But a study by NBC Sports proves that is not the case.

Of the 132 college players selected in the second round of the last six NBA drafts, 91 of them — or 68.9 percent — received at least a one-year guaranteed NBA contract, meaning they had at least one season where they made the NBA’s minimum salary. This past season, the NBA minimum for a rookie was $815,615, a number that will continue to rise as the NBA’s salary cap rises.

Those numbers get even more promising, however, as you look closer to the top of the second round. As detailed by Vice Sports, the latter parts of the second round was something of a dumpster fire during some recent drafts.

Of the 72 college players selected between 31st and 45th during the last six drafts, 65 of them — or a whopping 90.3 percent — received a guaranteed contract from an NBA team. Just two of the college players that were taken in the top 40 since 2012 did not receive a guaranteed contract during their first season as a pro.

One of those two was Grant Jerrett, the 40th pick in the 2013 NBA Draft out of Arizona. He went straight to Oklahoma City’s G League affiliate and, after a year, he was signed to a four-year deal with two years and $1.76 million guaranteed. Reports at the time suggested that the Thunder intended to sign him all along, which more means that UConn’s Deandre Daniels, the 37th pick in the 2014 NBA Draft who went to Australia instead of signing with Toronto, is the only top 40 pick in the last six seasons that didn’t get a guaranteed deal from an NBA team.

There is even more to those numbers, however, especially when you look at how things have been trending in recent years.

In the past two seasons, every college player that was selected among the top 50 picks — a total of 30 of which came in the second round — received a guaranteed contract. Of those 30, 22 were given a two-year guaranteed deal. In 2017, that would equate to roughly $2.19 million guaranteed at minimum. Some players — Boston’s Semi Ojeleye, Sacramento’s Frank Mason, Houston’s Damyean Dotson — received more than the minimum. Ojeleye’s salary this season was just $100,000 less than that of Josh Hart, the 30th pick in the draft.

Of the eight that did not receive a second season guaranteed, three were given partial guarantees for that second year while four more were given deals with first-year guaranteed salaries that were more than the minimum.

Thomas Bryant, who was taken with 42nd pick of the 2017 Draft by the Lakers, is the only player in the last two drafts that was selected among the top 50 pick that didn’t get either a two-year guaranteed deal or a one-year deal at more than the minimum.

But that still doesn’t tell the entire story.

Frank Mason III (Abbie Parr/Getty Images)

There were seven college players that were taken in the second round of the 2017 NBA Draft that did not get guaranteed contracts. Five of those seven wound up signing two-way deals with the teams that selected them, and all five eventually made an NBA roster and played in at least one (and as many as 20, in the case of Phoenix forward Alec Peters) NBA game. Every organization has two two-way contracts at their disposal, which will pay a starting salary of $77,250 during the 2018-19 season and allow the team to bounce the player between the NBA and the G League as they see fit. Every day the player is on the NBA roster, they make more money with a maximum earning potential of $385,000.

One of the two college players that didn’t sign a two-way contract was Gonzaga’s Nigel Williams-Goss, and that was because he and the team that drafted him, the Utah Jazz, felt it better than he spend a season overseas. He’s playing with Serbian power Partizan Belgrade in the Adriatic League — one of the best leagues in Europe — and averaging 17 points and seven assists. He reportedly makes $130,000, a number that is inflated because European teams often cover things like housing, transportation and even taxes; that $130,000 is, essentially, his take-home money.

The only college player that’s left is Jarron Blossomgame, who was picked 59th by the Spurs and spent the year with their G League team. That’s not a bad spot to be in for a worst-case scenario.

We can go down that same path with the 2016 NBA Draft.

Ben Bentil, the 51st pick to Boston, was the first college player that didn’t get a full first-year guaranteed deal, but he still received a $250,000 guarantee. Two players that were picked after him — Joel Bolomboy and Kay Felder — both received three-year contracts with more than $1 million guaranteed, and two other college players got paid six figures in camp bonuses and partial guarantees before spending the year in the G League.

In total, there were just three college players selected in the second round of the 2016 NBA Draft that did not get that kind of money guaranteed. One of them was Boston’s Abdel Nader, who signed a four-year deal with $1.167 million guaranteed after one season in the G League. Another, Tyrone Wallace, spent the 2016-17 season in the G League and 2017-18 as a two-way player for the Clippers, a team that he is now negotiating a longer-term extension with. Daniel Hamilton, the 56th pick, is the only other college player that was drafted in the second round.

As NBA stars start to make a larger percentage of the money, NBA and G League salaries continue to climb and more NBA jobs (i.e. two-way contracts) start to come available, it makes more and more sense to NBA teams to draft players in the second round that they want within their organization.

You never know when that pick is going to turn into a Malcolm Brogdon, or a Josh Richardson, or a Draymond Green — I could go on (Khris Middleton, Norman Powell) and on (Jae Crowder, Mike Muscala) — but it also allows those teams to bring players onto their roster in the cheapest way possible.

The easiest way to pay the three or four superstars you need on a roster to have a shot at a title is to get rotation players like Semi Ojeleye, Jordan Bell, Patrick McCaw and Abdel Nader on the cheap in the second round.

I say all that to say this: The idea that it is only a smart move to head to the NBA as an underclassmen is when you are a first round pick is antiquated.

There is plenty of guaranteed money out available for players picked in the second round, and it’s been nearly three years since a player coming out of college that was picked in the top 50 of the draft was unable to get a contract that guaranteed them less than one year’s NBA salary.

That doesn’t mean it’s always the right decision to forego remaining eligibility. These salaries are big, but they aren’t life-changing and certainly don’t amount to the kind of money that would allow a player to avoid having to work once their basketball career comes to an end. What it does is muddy the waters, and make it that much more likely that a borderline first round pick would opt to enter the NBA draft.

UConn adds former Rutgers guard Cam Spencer from transfer portal

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STORRS, Conn. — National champion UConn added some shooting depth to its roster Friday, announcing the signing of former Rutgers guard Cam Spencer from the transfer portal.

Spencer, who graduated last month with a year of eligibility remaining, averaged 13.2 points in his only season in New Jersey. The 6-foot-4 guard, who played his first three seasons at Loyola of Maryland, shot 44.4% from the floor, including 43.4% from 3-point range.

“Cam is the perfect addition to our basketball program,” UConn Coach Dan Hurley said. “He brings a unique combination of high-level skill and feel for the game, with a fierce competitiveness that has allowed him to enjoy a terrific college basketball career thus far.”

The Huskies lost their top 3-point scoring threat, sophomore Jordan Hawkins, to the NBA draft, along with wing Andre Jackson Jr. and post Adama Sanogo.

Guard Tristen Newtown gave the Huskies a boost last month when he withdrew his name from the draft pool and returned to Storrs.

The Huskies began summer workouts this week, welcoming a top recruiting class led by 6-6 point guard Stephon Castle, a McDonald’s All-American from Georgia. The class also includes 6-7 wing Jayden Ross and 6-4 guard Solomon Ball from Virginia, 6-7 wing Jaylin Stewart from Seattle, Washington, and 7-foot center Youssouf Singare from New York.

“I think that some of my strengths will stand out in UConn’s style of play,” Spencer said. “They have a lot of great movement and they play so well together, with great chemistry. I think that I can come in and hopefully contribute to that.”

NCAA tweaks rules on block/charge calls in men’s basketball

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INDIANAPOLIS — The NCAA is tweaking how block/charge calls are made in men’s basketball.

The NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel approved rule changes on Thursday that require a defender to be in position to draw a charge at the time the offensive player plants a foot to go airborne for a shot. If the defender arrives after the player has planted a foot, officials have been instructed to call a block when there’s contact.

Defenders had to be in position to draw a charge before the offensive player went airborne under previous rules.

NCAA Men’s Basketball Rules Committee members made the proposal after NCAA members complained that too many charges were being called on those types of plays.

The panel also approved reviews of basket interference calls during the next media timeout – if the official called it on the floor – a shot clock reset to 20 seconds on an offensive rebound that hits the rim, and players being allowed to wear any number between 0 and 99.

A timeout also will be granted to an airborne player with possession of the ball, and non-student bench personnel will be allowed to serve as peacekeepers on the floor if an altercation occurs.

Charlotte head coach Ron Sanchez resigns after winning CBI title

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Ron Sanchez resigned as head coach of the Charlotte 49ers.

Sanchez took over the 49ers on March 19, 2018, inheriting a team coming off a 6-23 campaign. In five years Charlotte went 72-78 under Sanchez, highlighted by winning the College Basketball Invitational championship this past season, the Niners’ first post-season tournament title in school history.

The 22 wins this past season are the most for Charlotte since 2001.

“Ron took over a proud but struggling program and carefully rebuilt it into a 22-game winner. He has led with class, dignity and devotion to our young men,” Charlotte director of athletics Mike Hill said. “His decision to step down from Charlotte was a difficult one for him and everyone associated with our program. We wish him and his family every happiness.”

Hill said the team has already begun a national search for a replacement.

“This is a bittersweet day for me and my family as I step down to pursue other opportunities,” said Sanchez, who came the 49ers after working as an assistant coach at Virginia under Tony Bennett. “It has been a tremendous privilege to lead the 49ers basketball program over the past five years and I want to thank Niner Nation for its support. I will be forever grateful to my staff, players and the university.”

Marquette extends Shaka Smart’s contract through 2029-30 season

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MILWAUKEE — Marquette coach Shaka Smart has received a contract extension after leading the Golden Eagles to their first outright regular-season championship and tournament title in the Big East.

Smart’s contract now runs through the 2029-30 season. This is the first extension Smart has received since signing a six-year deal when he took over as Marquette’s coach in 2021.

Marquette didn’t release financial terms of Smart’s deal.

“In a very short period of time, Shaka and his staff have done a tremendous job of establishing a winning culture, both on and off the court,” athletic director Bill Scholl said in a statement. “Shaka’s vision for the program is focused on extended, sustainable success. The individuals who interact with the team on a daily basis are able to observe frequent examples of growth and the excitement around the program is contagious.”

Marquette has gone 48-20 in Smart’s two seasons and reached the NCAA Tournament each of those years.

The Golden Eagles went 29-7 and won the Big East’s regular-season and tournament championships last season after the league’s coaches had picked them to finish ninth out of 11 teams. Marquette’s season ended with a 69-60 loss to Michigan State in the NCAA Tournament’s round of 32.

Purdue’s Edey returning to school at NBA draft deadline; Kentucky’s Tshiebwe stays in

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Purdue’s Zach Edey decided it was the right call to go back to school instead of staying in the NBA draft. His predecessor as national player of the year, Kentucky’s Oscar Tshiebwe, is sticking with his pro pursuit.

And Connecticut’s reign as NCAA champion will begin with multiple starters having left for the NBA draft and one returning after flirting with doing the same.

The 7-foot-4 Edey and UConn guard Tristen Newton were among the notable names to announce that they were withdrawing from the draft, the NCAA’s deadline for players who declared as early entrants to pull out and retain their college eligibility.

Edey’s decision came in social media posts from both the center and the Boilermakers program that earned a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament behind Edey, The Associated Press men’s national player of the year.

But Tshiebwe announced late in the afternoon that he would remain in the draft after a college career that included being named the AP national player of the year in 2022.

For the current champions, Newton (10.1 points, 4.7 assists, 4.5 rebounds) is returning after being one of four Huskies to declare for the draft after a run to UConn’s fifth national championship in early April. He scored a game-high 19 points to go with 10 rebounds in the victory over San Diego State in the title game.

The others were Final Four Most Outstanding Player Adama Sanogo, wing Jordan Hawkins and versatile guard Andre Jackson Jr. Sanogo (17.8 points) and Hawkins (16.3) have made it clear they have closed the door on their college careers, while team spokesman Phil Chardis said that Jackson (6.1 points, 5.8 rebounds, 4.6 assists) would remain in the draft.

The Huskies have 247sports’ No. 3-ranked recruiting class for next year to restock the roster, led by McDonald’s All-American point guard Stephon Castle.

The NBA’s withdrawal deadline is June 12, but is moot when it comes to college players returning to school due to the NCAA’s earlier timeline to retain playing eligibility.

STAYING IN SCHOOL

TREY ALEXANDER: Creighton gets back a 6-4 guard who averaged 13.6 points and shot 41% from 3-point range in his first full season as a starter.

ADEM BONA: The 6-foot-10 forward and Pac-12 freshman of the year is returning to UCLA after starting 32 games as a rookie and averaging 7.7 points, 5.3 rebounds and 1.7 blocks – with coach Mick Cronin praising his toughness for “competing through multiple injuries for as long as he could” in a statement Wednesday.

EDEY: He averaged 22.3 points, 12.9 rebounds, 2.1 blocks and 1.5 assists while shooting 60.7% from the field. His presence alone helps Purdue be a factor in the Big Ten race.

JOSIAH-JORDAN JAMES: The 6-6 guard went through the NBA G League Combine and had workouts with multiple teams before opting to return to Tennessee for a fifth season alongside teammate Santiago Vescovi.

JUDAH MINTZ: The 6-3 freshman averaged 16.3 points and 4.6 assists for Syracuse, ranking third among Division I freshmen in scoring behind only Alabama’s Brandon Miller and Lamar’s Nate Calmese.

OWLS’ RETURNEES: Florida Atlantic got good news after its surprise Final Four run with the return leading scorers Johnell Davis (13.8) and Alijah Martin (13.4). ESPN first reported their decisions, while Martin later posted a social media statement.

TERRENCE SHANNON JR.: Illinois got a big boost with Shannon announcing his night in a social media post. The 6-6 guard is returning for a fifth college season after averaging 17.2 points.

SPARTANS’ RETURNEES: Michigan State announced that guards Jaden Akins and A.J. Hoggard have withdrawn from the NBA draft. Standout guard Tyson Walker had previously withdrawn in April, setting up Tom Izzo to have five of his top scorers back.

GOING PRO

KOBE BROWN: Missouri’s 6-8 swingman opted against returning for a fifth college season after being an AP first-team all-Southeastern Conference pick averaging 15.8 points last season.

JAYLEN CLARK: The third-year UCLA guard averaged 13.0 points and 6.0 rebounds while leading the Pac-12 with 2.6 steals en route to being named Naismith national defensive player of the year. Cronin called him a winner with strong intangibles who made UCLA “a better program because he chose to be a Bruin.”

BRICE SENSABAUGH: The Ohio State freshman averaged 16.3 points and 5.4 rebounds in 31 games before missing his final two in the Big Ten Tournament due to a knee injury. He’s a potential first-round prospect.

TSHIEBWE: The 6-9, 260-pound forward is a tough interior presence who led the country in rebounds for two straight seasons (15.1 in 2022, 13.7 in 2023) while racking up 48 double-doubles. But he faces an uncertain next stop and is projected at best as a second-round prospect.