Consider Devon Dotson’s decision to declare for the 2019 NBA Draft “an information-seeking quest.”
That was the way Dotson’s father, Dana Dotson, described the move in a Friday phone call with the Journal-World a few hours after Devon Dotson announced his intentions on Twitter.
“After careful consideration with my family and coaches, I have decided to test the waters and enter into the 2019 NBA Draft process,” Devon Dotson wrote earlier Friday. “I feel it’s a great opportunity to obtain feedback from NBA personnel to make fully informed decisions regarding my basketball future. I will hire an agent and move forward while retaining my complete college eligibility.”
The ability to do just that comes from a new set of NCAA rules that allow underclassmen to solicit the help of NBA-certified agents during the predraft process.
Dotson, like KU teammates Quentin Grimes and Dedric Lawson, who declared for the NBA Draft earlier this week, will be able to return to KU if he pulls his name out of the draft pool by May 29 or if he stays in the June 20 draft, goes undrafted and then severs all ties with his agent.
At this point, neither is at the forefront of Dotson’s mind, according to his father, and the move to even entertain the idea of testing his draft status only came at the end of the season and was the result of the point guard’s strong showing as a freshman at Kansas, where he started all 36 games and averaged 12.3 points, 3.7 rebounds and 3.5 assists for the 26-10 Jayhawks.
Dotson’s relentless style and speed with the ball consistently gave KU an advantage at the point guard position, and the third-team all-Big 12 selection who also landed on the Big 12’s all-freshman team often was said to be well ahead of the pace of former KU greats Frank Mason III and Devonte’ Graham.
“One of the reasons Devon went to Kansas was great coaching, great atmosphere and he wanted the opportunity to win,” Dana Dotson said. “He never went into college thinking his goal was to be there one year and leave. It was strictly just based on his performance this year. One of the things that kept running through my mind is, what’s the downside? Like, why not? At least for our situation, I think the benefits greatly outweigh the negatives.”
KU coach Bill Self agreed and said in a statement released Friday afternoon that Dotson had his complete support.
“I’ve had multiple discussions with Devon and his family, talking not only about the season but where he stands with his basketball future,” Self said in the statement. “They felt, and I do not disagree, they could gather more information on exactly where he stands in the eyes of the NBA if he were to declare and get as much feedback as he possibly can. They made it very clear to me that in no way, shape or form is he saying goodbye or is he going to compromise his collegiate eligibility in order to get that information. He will follow the guidelines the NCAA and NBA have put forth to allow him to sign with an agent to get feedback and make the decision. We support their decision. Although we wish him the very best in his preparation for this, we also believe there is a great chance that he’ll have a tremendous sophomore season at Kansas.”
Dana Dotson said the goal now was for his son to earn a predraft combine invitation — those should be sent out around April 26 — and see what he can do with that. He also said KU being mentioned in the ongoing federal investigation into corruption in college basketball had nothing to do with his son's decision.
The combine, which takes place May 14-19 in Chicago, offers draft hopefuls the opportunity to meet with teams, play in front of them and run through drills and interviews that give NBA front office personnel a complete picture of the players they are considering drafting.
“Hopefully if he gets to that point of the process, he’ll be able to sit down and talk to teams and get feedback on strengths and weaknesses,” Dana Dotson said. “The way I look at it is it’s no different than you’re doing research on a job interview. Once we have all the information, we’ll sit down as a family and kind of make a decision in terms of ‘what now?’”
Although there's still a chance Dotson will return for a sophomore season at KU, his father said the freshman point guard planned to go all-in on the opportunity in front of him.
“You’ve seen Devon,” Dana Dotson said. “He’s pretty competitive, so he’s going to go through the process 100 percent, obviously. But he’ll be at Kansas. He still has classes, and we can’t interrupt his academics, and he’ll continue to work out and get ready there.”
If Dotson stays in the draft, Self and company will have five open scholarships to fill and just four players returning from last season’s rotation — Ochai Agbaji, Marcus Garrett, Mitch Lightfoot and David McCormack.
The future for KU big men Udoka Azubuike and Silvio De Sousa remain question marks, as well, with many expecting Azubuike to move on and De Sousa still awaiting word about his appeal of his two-year suspension by the NCAA.
The final day for underclassmen to declare for the 2019 draft is April 21, and the spring signing period for players in the class of 2019 opens Tuesday, making next week a big week for two of the top remaining prospects on KU’s wish list: Four-star shooting guard Cassius Stanley is expected to announce his decision Tuesday, and top 10 forward Matt Hurt is slated to reveal his choice on April 19.