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NBA sounds ready to move toward lowering draft age limit

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In recent years there’s been an increased amount of conversation regarding the NBA’s rules for draft entrants, with the requirements since the 2006 NBA Draft being that a player be at least 19 years of age (during the calendar year of the particular draft that they’ve entered) and stateside players also be one year removed from high school.

On Tuesday, both NBA commissioner Adam Silver and NBPA Executive Director Michele Roberts discussed the age limit during their respective press conferences. And by the sound of things, the league appears to still be headed in the direction of lowering the minimum age to 18. While neither provided a date as to when the change could go into effect, according to Tim Bontemps of the Washington Post the minimum age to enter the draft could be lowered in time for the 2021 NBA Draft.

The 2021 timeframe doesn’t come as a surprise, as it’s been mentioned during multiple conversations regarding the NBA Draft age limit. The NBA has steadily made progress towards each team having its own NBA G-League affiliate, and it will be interesting to see if that comes to fruition by the year 2021.

Having a G-League affiliate allows NBA teams to use those franchise to help young players get the on-court reps they need to get used to the parent club’s system, especially if they aren’t getting many minutes in the NBA. And a “one-to-one” relationship would be key for the league if it’s to lower its minimum age requirement in the future.

As for how this impacts college basketball, while some have stated that the “one and done” era has hurt the sport, an argument can be made that it’s been more beneficial than harmful.

There are a number of elite players who during the current era would have never set foot on a college campus if there were no age limit. That season on campus also gives NBA teams the opportunity to further evaluate those talents before they become draft-eligible players. And from an academic standpoint, programs that land “one and done” talent consistently meet — or exceed — the NCAA’s requirements when it comes to Academic Progress Rate, whether or not one thinks that the APR is a sham.

It’s becoming more clear that the NBA is ready to make a change, and based upon Roberts’ quote a move could be announced in the very near future. While college coaches won’t have an impact on the final decision, they will have to be prepared for the trickle-down effect that’s likely to occur on the recruiting trail as a result of elite prospects not having to wait to enter the NBA draft.

Cincinnati’s Jacob Evans signs agent, will stay in 2018 NBA Draft

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Cincinnati junior Jacob Evans will keep his name in the 2018 NBA Draft by signing with an agent.

The 6-foot-6 Evans told Yahoo’s Shams Charania on Saturday that he’ll be turning professional on the eve of an important week at the NBA’s draft combine in Chicago. Evans is one of the players scheduled to participate in the event, as a solid week there could solidify him as a first-round pick.

As a junior with the Bearcats, Evans was the team’s leading scorer as he put up 13.7 points, 4.7 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game while shooting 37 percent from three-point range. Also effective on the defensive end, Evans averaged 1.3 steals and 1.0 blocks per game.

With NBA teams putting a premium on two-way wings, Evans has the potential to vault up draft boards with solid workouts over the next several weeks. Many mock drafts currently list Evans as a late first-round pick.

The loss of Evans is going to really hurt Cincinnati, as the Bearcats now lose three of their top four scorers from last season’s AAC championship team. Without Evans in the lineup, Cincinnati will have to rely heavily on veterans like Jarron Cumberland and Cane Broome to provide a scoring lift until some of the team’s unproven players begin to step up.

KU’s Greene turning pro

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Kansas junior Brannen Greene plans to enter the NBA draft and hire an agent, the school announced Wednesday.

“I certainly understand Brannen making this decision. We wish him nothing but the very best,” Jayhawks coach Bill Self said in a statement released by the school. “He has an NBA skill that I think will translate very well to the next level. We appreciate his efforts during his time at Kansas.”

Greene has the look and skill set of a 3-and-D wing in the NBA with a 6-foot-7 frame and a 3-point shooting percentage over 40 the last two years, including a 49.2 percent mark this past season. Still, he rarely had much opportunity to display it over long stretches while at Kansas, never averaging more than 15 minutes a game and actually seeing his playing time dip this past season.

He often was located in Self’s doghouse., getting suspended one game last year and again for six games this season following a “contentious and prolonged argument over playing time” in November. When Greene dunked late in a blowout February win over rival Kansas State, Self went on the school’s post-game radio broadcast and called it “probably the biggest (expletive) move I’ve ever had a player do during the game.”

In short, a parting of the ways may be best – and inevitable – for both sides here.

Whole UK team looking to gauge draft prospects

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Whether it’s coaching the Dominican Republic national team, giving ESPN full access to his locker room or holding a scouting combine instead of practice, Kentucky coach John Calipari is always on the cutting edge of recruiting.

He’s at it again, taking advantage of the NCAA’s change in rules that allows underclassmen to declare of the draft, workout for NBA teams and attend the combine while still being able to return to school if they don’t hire an agent.

Cal’s got his whole squad going pro – at least temporarily.

“Every player who is eligible for the draft,” Calipari wrote on Twitter on Wednesday evening, including our walk-ons, will submit their names for the NBA draft in hopes of being invited to the combine in May.”

It’s brilliant, it really is.

It again pushes Calipari’s reputation as pro-player and forward-thinking while getting his program tons of attention and really costing him nothing. His recruiting philosophy of bringing in five-star one-and-dones every year means even if this does cost him a player or two that might have otherwise stayed, he’s got another or two already coming in the door.

The new rules stipulate that players have until May 25 to decide to return to school.

Jamal Murray and Skal Labissiere would appear to be sure-fire lottery picks while point guard Tyler Ullis could also go in the first round, should he decide to stay in the draft. Isaiah Briscoe doesn’t project to be a first-rounder this year, but could intrigue teams during the process.

Whatever happens as a result of this (let’s call it what it is) inspired stunt, Calipari and Kentucky have already won.

Purdue’s Swanigan heads toward NBA draft

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Purdue freshman big Caleb Swanigan is declaring for the NBA draft, but will not initially hire an agent, the school announced Tuesday.

New NCAA rules will allow him to work out for teams and attend May’s combine before making a decision on whether or not to return to school ahead of the May 25th deadline.

The 6-foot-9 forward from Fort Wayne, Ind. put up solid numbers during his first season in West Lafayette, averaging 10.2 points and 8.3 rebounds along with 1.8 assists in 25.7 minutes of action per night. He shot 46.1 percent from the floor and 29.1 percent on 72 3-point attempts.

Swanigan is likely a fringe first-round candidate at best this season given a freshman season that wasn’t lights out. His block rate was a meager 0.9 percent, and he wasn’t able to stretch the floor with his shooting, which makes him a less-than-appealing draft prospect given his size.

Still, he won’t turn 19 years old for another month, and he was impressive enough during high school and his few months on campus that NBA surely will be interested in taking a look.

For Purdue, the loss of Swanigan would hit hard as he’s so well positioned to slide right in and replace the graduating AJ Hammons next season inside as they look to move on fro this year’s first-round NCAA tournament exit. Right now, Purdue hasn’t signed a big man in the 2016 recruiting class.

Mississippi State’s Newman declaring for NBA draft

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Mississippi State freshman Malik Newman will enter his name in the NBA draft, but does not plan to immediately hire an agent, he announced Monday.

“I’m still leaving the option open that if I don’t hear the news that I would like to hear, I will be attending Mississippi State again,” he told the Clarion-Ledger.

That unwelcome news would be a second-round draft grade after Newman makes the rounds with workouts and potentially the draft combine. He’s currently projected as a second-rounder by DraftExpress.com.

Newman, a former McDonald’s All-American, averaged 11.3 points, 2.8 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game while shooting 39.1 percent from the floor and 37.9 percent from 3-point range during a freshman season that largely didn’t play out to expectations as Mississippi went 14-17.

He played in 29 of the Bulldogs’ 31 games, with turf toe one among a number of nagging injuries he dealt with throughout the year.

While the Bulldogs would certainly like to see Newman back in the fold next year, if he should decide to stay in the draft past the May 25th deadline, Ben Howland won’t be without reinforcements. His incoming 2016 class has more than enough firepower with six recruits signed, four of which are top-100 talents. Mississippi State also a nice core of I.J. Ready and Quandary Weatherspoon in place to help Howland’s large and highly-touted class acclimate, whether or not Newman leaves Starkville.