Thursday, May 8, 2008

New rule helps NBA Draft hopefuls

Kansas basketball coach Bill Self, center, jokes during a visit to Boys Town, Neb. Self visited Boys Town - near Omaha - on Wednesday.

Kansas basketball coach Bill Self, center, jokes during a visit to Boys Town, Neb. Self visited Boys Town - near Omaha - on Wednesday.



Nati Harnik/AP Photo

Kansas basketball coach Bill Self, center, jokes during a visit to Boys Town, Neb. Self visited Boys Town - near Omaha - on Wednesday.

It should come as no surprise 69 college underclassmen have declared for the 2008 NBA Draft as compared to 58 a year ago.

A new NCAA rule allows NBA teams to pay travel and lodging expenses for players such as Kansas University sophomore Darrell Arthur and junior Mario Chalmers, who will try out for various pro teams the first two weeks of June.

In past years, underclassmen like the KU duo - who did not sign with agents, allowing them the possibility of withdrawing from the draft and returning to school - had to pay their way to NBA camps, discouraging them from testing the waters.

"When I told Sandra (Arthur's mom) there was a change and clubs could pay for the transportation to workouts, I think she was relieved in that regard," KU coach Bill Self said.

"This will better for me and my family," Arthur agreed.

Arthur, Chalmers and 67 others who had until April 27 to enter their names in the draft, have until June 16 to withdraw if they want to return to college. There are just 60 slots in the entire draft - 30 per round.

It has left many college coaches in a state of limbo, not knowing how many of their players will return.

"The bottom line is that the NBA is getting what they want (trying out players and landing the best), and the college game is getting hurt," Nevada coach Mark Fox told Jeff Goodman of

KU's Self said he was "not crazy" about the rule that lets players without representation wait until mid-June to decide upon a possible return. "When they declare, I don't think they really want to be here anyway," Self added.

Still, with the current system as it is, Self does not begrudge Chalmers and Arthur their chance to weigh their options closely the next several weeks. "They have put in their time. They deserve this opportunity (to test the waters)," Self said.

He has covered his own program by currently "oversigning" by one. KU, which has 12 scholarships to give (one from the maximum of 13 because of NCAA sanctions) recently received a 13th commitment in Tyshawn Taylor. With Arthur almost certain to leave and Chalmers also likely to bolt, Self is confident he'll have grants to give when all is said and done.

"Most coaches would agree it's not a great rule. There will be some really poor decisions. You've got all these declarations, and there's 30 picks in the first round. Probably 70-80 guys have been told by experts they'll be a first-round pick," Self said.

Coaches like Ohio State's Thad Matta want a system in which players must decide whether they will remain in the draft a week or two after the conclusion of the season.

"If they put their name in, they should go," Florida's Billy Donovan told Foxsports.

Self, by the way, is also against the current system that requires a player to turn 19 during a draft's calendar year or be one year removed from high school before he's eligible to enter the NBA.

"I don't like the rule. I think it's a bad rule. It's good that kids have to go to school. I think it's best for the student-athlete to be able to do that," Self said, adding, "I'd rather it be like baseball. They go after high school. If not, they have to put more time in college (three years)."

¢ Boys Town tour: Self spent an hour Wednesday visiting with Boys Town staff and students on the west side of Omaha, Neb. At a Boys Town news conference, Self told the Associated Press he was enthused about the 2008-09 Jayhawks.

"If they (Chalmers, Arthur) don't come back, we're still going to be good. Part of coaching, to me, is sometimes starting with a fresh slate," Self said. "(If the two return) we could be as talented next year as we were this year. People may say, 'No way,' but I have a lot of faith in our young guys."

Of KU's three players currently in the draft, Self said: "That was a good move on his (Brandon Rush's) part (to declare with agent). It was time for him to do that. Darrell and Mario have the option to come back. I'm approaching it like we're not going to have them, too. Not that I wouldn't want them to come back, but I think there's a great chance they'll be drafted in the first round."

¢ Recruiting: Former Oklahoma guard Bobby Maze, who averaged 20.7 points and 6.7 assists last season for Hutchinson CC, has committed to Tennessee. KU will play the Volunteers next season in Lawrence. ... Verdell Jones, a 6-4 guard from Champaign, Ill., signed with Indiana. Jones averaged 17.6 points and 6.5 assists last season.


Chris Shaw 11 years, 7 months ago

Well, it's baby steps, but the NCAA is progressing little by little against the NBA and it's so called flea market of players it gets to choose in the draft. It's about time that the NBA started paying for these kids to go and tryout for teams during their workouts. I don't know of an business entitiy in America that if you have to fly somewhere for a job interview that you have to front the bill. The NBA should be fronting this cost and it took them long enough to finally institute it in their budget. I also agree with Self that the rule needs to be changed about attending college one year or be 19 before you declare for the draft. I've said for a long time that it needs to be like college baseball. Put the ownership into the hands of the players and let them make a decision rather than trying to squeeze the Universitites into a bad situation. Let the High School Players go to the draft, but if they make a decision to go to school than they have to go 3 years. It would definitely make the water less cloudy and actually raise the talent level. Those HS kids would have to go to workouts against Juniors and Seniors and most of those HS kids would find out that they are truly not ready for the NBA. I also think that the NBA institutes that rule over the long-run you only have the best players declaring for the draft rather than drafting on potential. I think the NBA should also make the HS kids go to a minimum number of workouts and they would have to workout against other players. It would only create a better product for the NBA in the future.

areyouserious 11 years, 7 months ago

KRANNY: Very well said............why do we let 6th grade geniuses attend college??........same principle....if they are ready to play in the NBA, let em play!! If I am 12 years old and I decide to start a company called Ebay, should I be allowed to make millions??? Ridiculous double standard

kranny 11 years, 7 months ago

It's a free country. If 18 year olds can vote, join the military and die for their country, they should be allowed to enter the NBA to play a "basketball game". The 19 year old rule is ridiculous. Tiger Woods played his first pro tourney at age 16. Why deny any American the right the right to make a living regardless of age. Let the high school grads make their own decisions and live with it.

actorman 11 years, 7 months ago

Rockchalk, that's a good point about the NFL. I think players actually have to wait until after their junior year to be able to declare, and I agree that that is completely unfair. In fact, it reached outrageous proportions a few years ago when the USC receiver (I forget his name) sued to be able to leave after his sophomore year. An appeals court ruled in his favor so he signed with agent. Then another court (the Supreme Court?) ruled against him and he wasn't allowed to go in the draft. After that the NCAA, with its usual sense of fairness, declared him inelgibile and he was forced to sit out the season entirely. Absolutely ridiculous. Just as with basketball, players should have the right to make a living. And for those who will argue that football is different because players need to be strong enough to compete in the NFL, I would say that the NFL wouldn't draft players they didn't consider strong enough.

justanotherfan 11 years, 7 months ago

actorman and Rockchalk,The NFL rule requires 3 years of college. That can either be a redshirt year and two years of playing or three years of play.As for the extra round thing, it's an idea a few friends and I have tossed around for a couple years. At first it was just, add an extra round, but that wouldn't work because most teams aren't going to retain more than one rookie every year, so you would have a lot of guys getting drafted with no chance of making a roster. That's when we added the wrinkle of not signing until the after the season. The NBA could adjust the rookie salary scale and allow teams to leave players where they are. For example, the Spurs could say, hey, we take Mario Chalmers with our first round pick, but we want him to stay at KU for the next year. The Spurs have their guy locked in now. KU gets him back for the next season. He graduates and signs his contract. If he gets hurt and can't play, he is paid a certain rate based on his draft position. Everybody wins. The only problem with that is timing. Since the draft isn't until the summer, players that were drafted, but would be returning, would still count against their schools scholarship number. Coaches wouldn't be able to recruit to cover their roster. That's where the need to declare, but not hire an agent comes in. You would essentially declare, but already announce your intent to stay in school. With that in place, coaches would know their roster makeup in April, because by the end of April you would either have to be completely in or declared without an agent. With that knowledge, scouts could evaluate a guy and decide to spend a pick on them, knowing they wouldn't be on the roster for another year. Only the top several players would be "in the draft" to actually play in the NBA next year. This would be the Derrick Rose's and Michael Beasley's of the world. Everyone else would declare, not hire an agent, and be back in school. That way, if you fell from the first round to the second or (new) third round, you still know you are at State U. next season, with a contract that will pay you a guaranteed rate if you are injured and can't play. The next season you have your two year rookie contract, after which you have the option for a third year or free agency (that way, if a player improves vastly during the one year in college to the next, he isn't locked into a longterm contract below market and draft value).

justanotherfan 11 years, 7 months ago

I personally like the new rule making the NBA pay for the expenses of players to travel to these workouts. However, kushaw, it wasn't the NCAA that pushed for that change. It was the NBA. The NCAA formerly had the position that paying for that travel would cause a player to forfeit their amateur status. For years they blocked the change. The NBA wanted that change so they could evaluate the entire pool of potential draftees against each other, rather than evaluating only the sure things and those who could afford the travel costs (or who had signed with agents, thereby losing the opportunity to pull out of the draft). Remember, the NCAA is more interested in discouraging kids from leaving early at all than they are with helping the players make the best decision for themselves. The NBA wants to evaluate the players so that they can have the best possible draft class. I agree that they should change the 19 rule back to allow high schoolers to make the jump if they feel they are ready. I also would have no problem with requiring a player to spend more than one year in college if they elected to go. I think another rule that may be helpful is to add another round to the draft and allow NBA teams to draft players that would not sign immediately. Some NBA teams do this now with players in the EuroLeague. They draft them, but leave them in Europe to develop further. If there was an extra round of the draft that allowed the NBA to select a guy that had declared, but then decided to stay in school, a team could pick him but not sign him until the following year, when the rookie salary scale would kick in. The NBA gets to draft coveted potential, the NCAA gets top players back, and the player gets insurance against injury (since a team owns the rights to him and would pay him based on his draft position the previous year). Obviously this idea would need some adjustments, but the basis is there. I don't think paying back scholarship money would be a good idea just because it opens a whole other set of problems. What about transfers? Does the school they transfer to have to pick up the tab? What about guys that leave the team? Do they have to pay back their scholarship money? It just adds a whole other level of issues that would have to be addressed. What about other sports? Would baseball have to pay back three years of scholarship money for drafting a junior? Would football have to pay back that money? Hockey? What about non-revenue sports like tennis and golf? Would a guy that turned pro have to repay his scholarship? Scholarships are awarded and renewed on a one year basis. A player could have their scholarship pulled at any time. That would give the schools too much power. Got an unproductive player on the roster? Cut his time, force a transfer AND recover the scholarship money.

ChicagoJHawk 11 years, 7 months ago

A friend of mine came up with a really good idea. If a HS grad wants to go straight to the NBA, let them. If they decide to go to college instead & leave early for the NBA then that person should have to pay the money back to the school (for tuition & housing & whatever else the scholarship covered). With an NBA salary, paying that money back really shouldn't be a problem for any of them! Plus that would also make people think twice about whether or not to test the waters, knowing that they may have to pay money back.

actorman 11 years, 7 months ago

justanother, that's an intriguing idea about adding the extra round in the draft. It would definitely be worth considering.

Lance Hobson 11 years, 7 months ago

Indiana steals players right out of Illinois' back yard. Insult to injury.

Michael Ales 11 years, 7 months ago

I agree with Coach Self, but money rules and it's not going to happen. Outside the "box" here, does anyone know where I can get a copy of the 1922 National (picture) Champions? I found one of the 1923 Champs is my copy of "On The Hill" Hate to rip it out, but if I must, I must. HELP!

esque 11 years, 7 months ago

While true any 18yr old has the right to make a living, there is no obligation, on the part of any pro sports league to hire them before said league deems them qualified to perform ata level the sports league determines to be satisfactory. If any pro sport decides they do not want to hire anyone under age 20, it is they're right.

Gary McCullough 11 years, 7 months ago

Maybe the NBA would be less likely to draft younger players if they had to repay scholarship money for players coming out before graduation. If the NBA is going to use the NCAA like a minor league, they ought to pick up some of the tab on developing the talent.

actorman 11 years, 7 months ago

Absolutely, kranny, I agree. I've always said that rule is ridiculous, and completely unfair especially to players from tough backgrounds. Imagine if you know that you have the talent to make millions of dollar but are forced to have your family remain in a run-down, crime-inflicted area because of an unconstitutional rule (that is only legal because an extremely weak players' union agreed to it).I have mixed feelings about the three-year rule a la college baseball. I can certainly understand how difficult the current situation is for college programs. On the other hand, a player should still have the right to make a living if he has the opportunity. One thing that might be a fair compromise is to reinstitute the old hardship rule. That rule enabled certain players to declare out of high school based on his family's situation (although I'm not sure if it was ever applied very stringently). I could see a similar type of rule where a player could apply for a waiver based on hardship and otherwise would have to go to college for three years if he didn't declare for the NBA out of high school.

rockchalk_dpu 11 years, 7 months ago

True, Tiger did play his first pro tour event at age 16. He was however playing as an amateur and was attending Stanford where he played for 2 years. While he is not the norm of collegiate golf, he was in the position of a LeBron James or Michael Beasley who would not have benefited from another year in college, or in the case of James, any college career at all.I find it funny though, that each year, millions of people whine and complain about this rule, but do not address the similar rule in place in the NFL which won't allow players to leave declare for the draft until after their Sophomore year, I believe. I don't believe that anyone who justifies the NFL rule, cannot justify the NBA rule as well. With that said, I will leave the debate up to you all.

ChicagoJHawk 11 years, 7 months ago

The main problem I see with having an extra round is that a lot of these guys are not going to care about their academics for the last year. A lot of people feel that that's a problem as it is, with the 1 year of college rule. If you know you have a contract lined up after 1 more season in college why would you care about school? These kids (not all but a lot of them) will do the bare minimum to stay elligible, which makes the school look bad.

Timmay97 11 years, 7 months ago

Based on what I've read, KU's schedule is looking far stronger next year, compared to this past year. They play Michigan State and Arizona on the road next year and Tennessee at home, as well as a top flight school at the Sprint Center in their preseason tourney. I like how it looks so the tough guys while having the young guys. You only need to win one......then confidence sets in and the skies the limit for our team. And seriously, it has been a month now and I still can't believe we won the championship. Still feels great!

flipborder02 11 years, 7 months ago

That Tennesse game is going to be fun to watch.

Marcia Parsons 11 years, 7 months ago

I'm all for players going straight from high school, but I think NONE of them (freshmen) should hire an agent for that initial draft. Then if they don't make it they can go to school for three years or whatever. Too many high schoolers are exploited by AAC coaches, family, etc. who are hoping to get rich off of them. I'd bet most of them would end up in college somewhere after finding out they were pretty ordinary compared to professional players, but would still have the opportunity to improve and actually make a pro team after some college experience. Otherwise basketball has lost out on a potential future star, and the kid has burned his one chance to be a basketball millionaire.

lee3022 11 years, 7 months ago

The idea of extra rounds of the draft would work to the detriment of the players. As it now stands the players not drafted are free to try out with and sign with any team that wants them. Since round 2 players are not in the rookie salary scale (only 1st round) additional rounds would not increase the number of players guaranteed any money at all.The NBA has had exploratory talks this year with the NCAA and perhaps another year will be added (say to age 20) to a future NBA players' union contract. The union is on record against that but will likely score some other desired benefit in exchange. The union contract is controlling over this and no one can change that without union approval.

BCRavenJHawkfan 11 years, 7 months ago

The NBA has made the least amount of effort possible to pacify the college game. In my eyes the real problem is the NCAA. Simply put they have made themselves judge and jury on the topic of student (amateur) athletes. Just like the USGA in golf the NCAA has a 19th century view of holding amateurs to a set of rules not fit for the 21st century.

Jonathan Allison 11 years, 7 months ago

I've never heard of Bobby Maze or Indiana Jones... I mean... Verdell Jones.

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