A rule change Kentucky coach John Calipari and others are pushing could change the NBA draft forever, especially in the weeks leading up to the selections that could bring major drama.
If a new proposal is adopted in January by the NCAA, college underclassmen will have the chance to return to school even after declaring for the NBA draft. The new rule could start as early as 2016 when early draft entrants can attend the Chicago pre-draft combine in May, get an evaluation and talk with NBA officials before making a final decision, providing they don't sign with an agent.
Draft rules currently in place don't allow a player to return to college once officially declared for the draft. The NBA would still have its early-entry deadline to declare in late April. But the new NCAA rule would allow underclassmen to bail and head back to college at a later date following the combine, during which time they can get a much better read on whether to stay out or come home.
Most recently, former UCF guard Isaiah Sykes declared for the draft in 2013. After withdrawing his name for consideration, Sykes returned to UCF for his senior year and later went on to play with La Fortezza Recanati in Serie A2 Silver in Italy. To date, the only Knights to be drafted include Bennie Shaw, who went to Milwaukee in the ninth round in 1976, and Jermaine Taylor, the 32nd overall pick in 2009 by the Washington Wizards.
The NCAA proposal Calipari helped put together would allow early entrants in the draft to get out as late as 10 days after the mid-May combine. That's precious time to gather more information and not throw away a potential pile of cash down the line by staying in school if you're told to wait.
"Here's the thing: that was all tied to what we did to get the NBA to have a combine," Calipari explained. "So, we on the NABC board, and there were five or six or seven of us, met with the NBA to say, 'Let's have a combine where you control it, you invite the players, you work them out, you have meetings with them, you do your thing with them, and then if you recommend they go back to school and they choose not to, that's fine.'
"If they don't get recommended to the combine, in other words, they're not invited, it kind of sends a clear message. But for that to work, we have to let the kids come back to school if they're not invited to the combine or if they go to the combine and know they need to go back to school. So, I think it's all good stuff. I think we're finally moving in a direction where it favors the kids, and that's what we should be doing."
Calipari has gotten a reputation for years as a guy who just ran a training camp for future NBA players as one-and-dones.
There is one drawback that could cause some issues.
"I would be OK with that," said Vanderbilt Kevin Stallings of the proposed rule to return to school after the combine. "I think there might be a couple of unintended consequences. I think it might be good for the players so it would probably be a good idea.
But if Calipari and other college leaders get their way, hoops may finally be at least partially fixing a big mess. Leave it to the guy so many like to disagree with to come up with a solution so many now like.