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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.

NCAA makes much-needed changes to pre-draft calendar

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One of the major points of contention in college basketball in recent years has been the NCAA calendar for early NBA Draft entrants. Wednesday afternoon the NCAA announced that some changes have been made, and they’re alterations that should benefit athletes moving forward.

The withdrawal deadline, which in 2011 was moved to just before the start of the spring signing period (mid-April), has been pushed to ten days following the completion of the NBA’s annual NBA Draft Combine. The combine is held in mid-May (May 11-15 this year), so this year athletes will have until May 25 to make a final decision. This allows them the time to go through workouts with teams and receive more feedback before making the decision to either keep their name in the draft pool or return to school.

In regards to the pre-draft workouts, players are allowed to enter the NBA Draft multiple times without jeopardizing their eligibility, and they can participate in the combined and one tryout per NBA team per year as well. These changes won’t impact guys who are projected to be lottery picks. But for those who may be on the fence or don’t enter the process as high on draft boards, having the ability to get better evaluations can only help them.

In 2009 the NCAA moved the deadline for players to withdraw from the draft to early May, only to move it to just before the start of the spring signing period two years later. That change was sparked by the complaints of some coaches, as they were concerned about what a hasty departure could do to their roster for the next season while also dealing with the spring signing period.

But of all the players who leave school early on any given year, how many are truly surprises? In most instances there’s ample time to address a possible early departure on the recruiting trail, and that will continue to be the case moving forward. Open dialogue can help in these situations, and being able to discuss workouts and feedback from NBA decision-makers can only help the players and coaches as they work through the decision-making process.