Key dates for Jayhawks who might be considering leaving KU early
With another Kansas basketball season now in the books and uncertainty on the horizon for the KU roster, it’s time to take a quick look at some key dates that could have an impact on the Jayhawks both today and in the future.
We all know that KU is losing just one senior from the 2018-19 roster. And we also know that Bill Self and company have signed two Class of 2019 guards — Christian Braun of Blue Valley Northwest and Issac McBride of Little Rock, Ark. — and are still on the hunt for a few more players to round out the current recruiting class.
What we don’t know is exactly how many spots Self will need to fill. KU could have as many as six of its 13 scholarships available in the coming weeks, and adding that many players to the 2019-20 roster would be a chore and almost certainly would require Self to add a couple of graduate transfers to the mix along with landing a few more players in the prep class of 2019.
Some of that was addressed earlier this week in my player-by-player look at the future of the KU roster. This one will dive a little deeper and focus only on the players who might be turning pro.
Dedric Lawson, Udoka Azubuike and Quentin Grimes sit at the top of that list, with K.J. Lawson also a possibility.
In order to do so, that group — and any other Jayhawks who feel like making the jump — will have to follow a strict process to make sure they’re (a) eligible to be drafted and (b) eligible to return should they not like what they hear in terms of feedback from the NBA in the weeks ahead.
Hiring an agent and staying in the draft of course, takes all of the guesswork out of the equation and immediately forfeits any player’s remaining college eligibility. The only wrinkle there is in the case of those players who stay in the draft and hire an agent but do not get drafted.
Those players, thanks to a new rule in play for the first time this year, are now eligible to return to school provided they terminate all agreements with their agents. It remains to be seen how this impacts both the individual players and the college game, but it certainly provides the players with a little more freedom to explore their options.
Neither Lagerald Vick nor Udoka Azubuike hired an agent a year ago, and, as a result, both were able to return to KU for the 2018-19 season.
We should know more about the intentions of Lawson, Azubuike, Grimes and potentially others in the next week or so. But while we wait for them to announce their plans, here’s a quick look at some dates they surely have circled on their calendars.
**• April 11 - The deadline for underclassmen to file paperwork for an evaluation from the NBA Undergraduate Advisory Committee, which, if granted, would allow them to hire an NCAA-certified agent to help guide them through the pre-draft process. The new rule, which went into affect last August, is yet another way of allowing underclassmen to retain their college eligibility while exploring a jump to the NBA.
• April 21 – NBA Draft early entry eligibility deadline
Any player wishing to test the waters and/or be eligible for the 2019 NBA draft must declare his intentions by 10:59 p.m. Central on Sunday, April 21. Failure to do so will make the player ineligible in the 2019 draft. Doing so without hiring an agent will allow the player to retain his college eligibility.
• May 14-19 – NBA Draft Combine
This six-day event in Chicago is just like the NFL’s version by the same name, with workouts, medical tests, team interviews and full five-on-five scrimmages highlighting the event. Here, players can gather feedback from NBA officials about their game, what teams like, what they don’t like and what they believe the player needs to work on. Attendance is by-invitation only and the combine has proven to be an incredibly valuable tool for those trying to make up their minds to stay in school or turn pro.
• May 29 – NBA Draft early entry withdrawal deadline
This is a big one and it’s the day that both Azubuike last year and Svi Mykhailiuk the year before made their final decisions to return to KU instead of turning pro. That decision, if any of the current Jayhawks elect to go that route, will have to be made by 4 p.m. Central on Monday, June 10 (or earlier).
• June 20 – 2019 NBA Draft
It’s too early to know exactly which Jayhawks will be draft eligible and which won’t, but with Azubuike, Lawson and Grimes all having the potential to leave early, it’s hard to imagine this date not meaning something to the KU program. There aren’t any lottery picks on the current roster and might not even be any first-round picks — although I do think Grimes could play himself into the end of the first round by testing well at the combine — but it’s hard to imagine at least one or two of these guys not getting picked in the second round.
Real quick, here’s a little more about the combine and eligibility requirements.
Prior to 2016, players could only declare for and withdraw from the NBA draft one time. However, that rule changed with the NBA’s new collective bargaining agreement and players are now allowed to withdraw from draft consideration twice during their collegiate careers, provided they follow the proper timeline and do not hire an agent.
That’s a lot of information and a lot of dates to keep straight, which is why it’s so important for these guys to have good people in their corners working on their behalf. Usually that’s family and friends — Vick’s mom, LaLa, did a masterful job of keeping her son’s eligibility a year ago — but Self also has proven to be a tremendous asset for his players when it comes to the stay-or-go decision and all of the details that come with it.
We should all know a lot more when we find out which players are planning to test and which are not.
In the past, combine invitations went out a week or so after the early entry eligibility deadline, so look for the KU crew to know which players are headed to the combine sometime in late April.
Not only will that help shape their individual decisions, but it also could play a key role in KU’s recruiting plans for the rest of the Class of 2019.