NBA draft process remains uncertain for college stars

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Uncertainty in the NBA draft process means a chaotic next few months for college basketball’s stars.

The COVID-19 outbreak stalled the NBA season. The future of the regular season hasn’t been determined. The postseason with it. The 2020 NBA Draft still remains a complete mystery.

Through it all, college basketball’s best players have deadlines for pro decisions coming up. Changing times have made for a more difficult NBA draft process than normal. It also might have ramifications for future college eligibility for certain players.

Before the 2019 NBA Draft process, the NCAA revised its former policy. Student-athletes could sign agents and retain college eligibility last summer. That process helped players like Kansas’ Devon Dotson and Louisville’s Jordan Nwora test the 2019 NBA Draft waters before returning to school this season.

The sport’s top agents largely ignored the new NCAA certification process for 2020. Only 23 agents have even been certified so far. As noted by Stadium’s Jeff Goodman, that list of NCAA-approved agents don’t come from bigger firms. So college players have been given a small group of agents to help them navigate the process. At least if they wish to keep college open as an option.

ESPN’s Jonathan Givony also noted that many agents are more focused on their current NBA players and the surrounding chaos in the NBA than they are 2020 draft prospects.

Of course, prospects can also risk navigating the NBA draft process alone. An agent, even from a “smaller” firm, has NBA connections. Agents help give feedback to potential clients who test the waters. A player going through the process alone doesn’t get that benefit. With limited NCAA-approved agents, some players could opt to do things themselves the next several months.

Top players who intend to stay in the draft will still sign with the sport’s top agents. That part will stay the same. But during a unique draft process, players being limited to only 23 agents to retain eligibility is not what the NCAA should be looking for. Workouts have practically been eliminated. The draft might be pushed back. And the NCAA isn’t helping its own student-athletes by placing so many restrictions that limit returning eligibility.