BY Todd Dybas 05:00PM 04/03/2012

Dybas: New deadline shows players no love

College basketball underclassmen get the short end of a new rule which truncates the time between the end of the season and when they have to withdraw from the NBA draft.

Tony Wroten declared for the NBA draft Tuesday. The new withdrawal date does him and no other underclassmen any favors. / Photo by Drew Sellers

Tony Wroten declared for the NBA draft Tuesday. The new withdrawal date does him and no other underclassmen any favors. / Photo by Drew Sellers

Adults have again colluded to short college athletes.

College coaches pushed a change the NCAA passed quietly last spring. April 10 is the new date underclassmen have to withdraw their name from draft consideration, in order to retain college eligibility.

Any surprise coaches and the NCAA wrangled April 10 into becoming D(ecision) Day for players should not exist. April 11 is the opening of the spring recruit-signing period. Hence, the self-serving alteration.

Coaches want clarity, even if it costs players a legitimate evaluation. The college coaches say it doesn’t matter there is no longer time to work out for an NBA team. No longer time for multiple trips for multiple evaluations. No longer time to separate rumor from fact if a player’s personality is in question. They think the new NBA Draft Advisory Committee, to which players have to apply for evaluation by April 3, plus traditional scouting is sufficient.

There’s simply no longer time before deciding. Once the confetti flew inside the Superdome Monday night, the clock began to tick.

The new rule shifts the game for all, but only proves a negative for underclassmen considering the draft. In particular, those unsure how much an NBA team is pining for their services.

Let’s back up. Two priorities previously existed for high school recruits: Playing time and likelihood the program would get them to the NBA.

Each was part of the posturing, schmoozing, buying and selling of recruitment. Most players, even top-tier talent, wanted assurance of touches and time.

They are what Washington head coach Lorenzo Romar refers to as navigators. They would project who might leave a program early for the draft, discern the minutes that would fall to them as a result, and decide on a college accordingly.

“There’s some we did not get because they weren’t sure (Washington) guys were going to come out,” Romar said.

That guessing is over.

The new date will start a pronounced change in early commitments for basketball. The fall signing period will become less and less relevant.

This year, the first for the new rule, five players in the McDonald’s All-America game were undecided (including Washington target Anthony Bennett).

There’s no reason for them to rush now. No reason to decide before well into the spring. Once new slots open up, and yesterday’s stars and many poor decision-makers have their eligibility cancelled without the courtesy of a workout for a pro team, the recruiting process will be restarted.

Terrence Ross left the Huskies after two years. His decision was sound and he likely would have reached the same one under the old timetable.

But, even Ross was told of fluctuating projections. Top 10, end of the lottery, mid-first round. Once he heard top 30 was likely, he was sold.

Players allow what they want to hear to percolate. A delusional messenger told Isaiah Thomas last year he would be selected in the first round. No one else told Thomas that. Not the media draft soothsayers. Not anyone who was trying to be honest. Certainly not Romar. So, who did?

“Well, won’t get into that,” Romar said. “I didn’t. It worked out for him, though.”

Romar said he and his staff do a lot of checking themselves. Talk to their NBA connections, present the feedback, let the players digest.

That’s why he’s tolerant of the new date. Romar is part of the National Association of Basketball Coaches board of directors and has heard the lobbying for the change.

“A lot of coaches tended to wait until June (until they knew who was leaving), and by then, there’s no way to recover for some programs,” Romar said. “I think that’s one of the reasons they did it.”

Tony Wroten was being recruited by Connecticut out of high school. He hoped Kemba Walker, the 2011 NCAA Tournament Most Outstanding Player as a junior, would be sticking around. Wroten’s confidence convinced him he was going to play, no matter who was on the team. So, he hoped his future roster to be as loaded as possible. It’s not the norm.

“It’s something in Tony’s case, he didn’t care who we had,” Romar said. “The more players we have, the better. He didn’t see it at all as, ‘I might not play as much.’

“There’s more navigators out there than guys like Tony. Parents, people around them, some of their coaches (move them around).”

After a spectacular and enraging season, Wroten decided on what he thought was a fait accompli upon arrival a year ago at Montlake by declaring for the draft Tuesday.

Who knows what he heard and where from? The NBA’s advisory committee told him he could be anywhere from top 5 to 25th. One NBA scout told me Wroten “shouldn’t even think about it.”

Trouble is, he started thinking about it in grade school, as did most who choose this path, and he shouldn’t be criticized for it. It’s his dream, the same as being a firefighter may be for someone else. Except he possibly gets millions of dollars.

So, if they get a sniff, they’re gone. Self-confidence can trump common sense. It’s easier to latch on to one false positive than absorb being told, “Not yet.”

“Isaiah came in here, if he could have gone his first year, he would have gone,” Romar said. “As soon as he thought he had a chance to go, he was going to go. So, (his decision last year) didn’t surprise me at all.”

The twist is Wroten was caught in the middle of this rule. He’s been watched since he fastened his Jordans with Velcro. Now, he wasn’t on either beneficial end of the change. Recruits and coaches are. Wroten knows the recruiting shell game is about to shift.

“You want to come in and start (in college), if it’s up to you,” Wroten said. “You don’t want to go to a place where they have three other players at your position. People leaving early is definitely something you’re going to look at.

“It’s definitely going to help (recruits) a lot. They’re going to know who’s there and who’s not, and who’s coming with them. It’s definitely a plus for them.”

It’s an unjust squeeze for him. If players were making incorrect, life-altering decisions in the past when there was more time, it’s frightening to think what could be decided in such a small window.

The NBA having a different declaration date — April 29 — is flabbergasting. A diabolical hopeful with surely tell his school he’s coming back, withdraw his name by the 10th, just to re-enter before the 29th after working back channels for more information. He’ll lose his eligibility, jerk around a program and incorrectly be painted a villain though the coaches’ preferred rule would be the cause of his vacillation.

But the coaches aren’t worried about that. In a set-up that already allows them expansive job movement and money, this is just another perk.

Let’s go, underclassmen. Time is running out. Your coaches have their jobs to worry about.

Get on with it, already.

Todd Dybas covers Washington basketball for the Washington Huskies Basketball App, and Washington football for the Washington Huskies Football App coming this fall. Follow Todd on Twitter at @Todd_Dybas. Follow the app at @Huskiesbbapp.


  • Jonathan Hibbs

    I know they are just typos, but could somebody please start proofreading this stuff?

  • Eric K

    Given how he is playing looks like a lot of NBA teams should have listened to whoever thought Thomas would be a 1st round pick:-)

  • Eric K

    Given how he is playing looks like a lot of NBA teams should have listened to whoever thought Thomas would be a 1st round pick:-)

  • dinglenuts

    I know this is off-topic a bit, but was that Clipboard Jesus I saw slinging the ball around for San Diego on Sunday? I assume it had to be based on the prominent ‘stache.  Wonders never cease.

  • RadioGuy

    I wouldn’t write Flynn off just yet.  He’s proven at both LSU and Green Bay that he has a LOT of patience and can stand and deliver big-time when called upon in a pinch.  Wilson has rightly earned the starter’s role so far, but we’re more than a week away from a 16-game regular season.  Let’s see how things go when the games start counting.

    Art nails one thing for sure:  How can anyone look at Wilson and Flynn and not consider them a major upgrade over Jackson and Whitehurst?

  • Soggyblogger

    Wilson/Flynn or Flynn/Wilson – I don’t care. While QB may be tied for third in priorities for this team, QB play remains the single most important position played in the game, and PC/JS know it. I’d hate to see Pete use early hooks on either starter, while at the same time, I am highly confident both could carry us to more wins than losses. Wilson has us all salivating like a St. Bernard, and has the tools to be great. Let the dynasty begin. Once we have sowed up the conference championship and cemented home field advantage for the playoffs, we can insert Flynn for the last couple of games to showcase him for a trade to one of the many teams with lesser talent at QB for appropriate draft choices. 

  • Matt712

    One fact that seems to be overlooked a lot is that Flynn was acquired more than a month before the draft. At that time, no one could have known if a Russel Wilson would be available. I remember the consensus being that the Hawks got a pretty fair (as in not exorbitant) deal for Matt Flynn given the cost of free-agency. But when they found themselves looking at the board in the third round and Russell Wilson is still there…

    I mean, the question – and I remember it being asked often – was why go after a QB when you already got what you wanted? And the only answer now seems to be, “Because this one’s even better.”

  • 3 Lions

    Don’t forget about how much they spent on Touchdown Jesus & how excited Pete was about him too
    (great competitor no doubt)

  • None

    Another great article. Thanks.

  • Artvintage97

    Nice article.  I just don’t see how a QB who is somewhere between 5′ 8″ and 5′ 10″ can be successful over the long term.  His game will involve running around, and two things happen when one is running for ones life…  Injury and a decrease in completion  percentage.

    • Jtkxyz

      The difference in height between Wilson and Drew Brees is about the length of your finger nail.  And if you take into account hand size and arm length, Wilson’s release point is probably “taller”.  The height issue should really be put to rest.

      And as for “running for ones life”, I don’t think anyone would describe Wilson’s running style that way.  He has a deliberate running style, his head always up and eyes looking down field, and he’s smart enough to slide or run out of bounds before contact.  He is not a reckless runner, nor does he have happy feet.  He’s a pass first QB–in the KC game when the pass protection was better with the first string offense notice how he stayed in the pocket all game with the exception of the two break downs.