In the state of Washington, we've seen two players -- Washington's Isaiah Thomas and Washington State's Klay Thompson -- declare for the 2011 NBA Draft in the past month. Their stories are different but intersect as they each weigh a career in the NBA against staying in school for their senior seasons. But when it comes to making an educated decision, Thomas, Thompson and many others are hampered by the rules put in place by the NCAA.
In the past, underclassmen were able to test the waters without losing collegiate eligibility. While that's still the case, the window to glean valuable information and workout for NBA teams while still remaining eligible, has narrowed considerably. This year, the NCAA deadline to retain eligibility is May 8, just over a week after the deadline for underclassmen to declare for the draft. Next year, the deadline will move to April 10, just days after the NCAA season ends.
Thomas and Thompson each spoke of the NCAA deadline when announcing their decisions, and each lamented the difficulties that came with it. The two are prime examples of how the narrow window of opportunity set forth by the NCAA makes the biggest decisions of their lives one of the riskiest. Declaring for the NBA Draft has become a leap of faith for many where it once was an educated, and calculated, decision.
Isaiah Thomas Forced To Make Definitive Choice
Isaiah Thomas is widely seen as a second round prospect in the 2011 NBA Draft. Though he still has plenty of chances to improve his draft stock, Thomas was forced to make a definitive decision on his future when he declared for the NBA Draft a few weeks ago. In doing so, he noted the early entry deadline affected his decision, and felt he had little time to truly find where he stock lies in the 10 days before the NCAA requires athletes to choose school or a professional career.
There were other issues at play for Thomas: His age, a planned change to shooting guard and, like Thompson, a dream of playing in the NBA all contributed to his choice to forgo his senior year. But he did so without being able to make a truly educated decision due to factors out of his control. He's diving into the NBA Draft blind, in many ways, and is a prime example of a prospect who needs the workouts, and the information that comes with them, the most.
Klay Thompson Searches For Information In A Small Window
Depending on who you ask, Klay Thompson is either a borderline first round prospect or surely in the top-32 and rising. Thompson is searching for a guarantee as he tests the waters, and is looking for a first round assurances. He's a classic case of using the process in the way its meant: If he hears what he wants, he'll stay in the draft; If not, he'll return to school knowing what parts of his game must improve.
Like Thomas, Thompson lamented the small window to make a final decision when announcing his intention to declare for the 2011 NBA Draft on Monday. Though he wants to jump into the draft process and workout for teams, he knows time is short, making it harder to impress and gain valuable information.
"It hampers it a little bit. 10 days is a pretty short window," Thompson said during Monday's press conference. "That makes the decision that much tougher. After the first couple workouts, I'll have to make a decision pretty quickly."
Instead of having over a month to workout for NBA teams and scouts, Thompson has 10 days. For a prospect whose goal is to see where he lies in the eyes on NBA front offices, the time is simply too short.
The stories of the Thompson and Thomas differ in many ways, but each was forced to make a difficult decision without adequate knowledge. The NCAA rule is self-serving and was created in the best interest of coaches, though even that is debatable. Knowing which players are leaving before the draft takes place in June allows coaches who didn't plan ahead time to scramble, recruiting players to fill the hole left behind in a hurry.
Gone are the days of athletes using the weeks leading up to the NBA Draft as valuable resource. An athlete can no longer use the process to glean valuable information while learning what they need to work on to improve their game and draft stock. Instead, many must take the plunge, all thanks to the NCAA, a governing body that operates under the guise of acting in the best interests of its athletes.