The final date for players to declare for the draft or remove their names from consideration will now come 10 days after the conclusion of the NBA draft combine, in which players complete physical and skills testing in front of scouts and team personnel. The 2016 draft combine is set for May 11–15 in Chicago, so May 25 will mark this year’s deadline.
Since 2009, the deadline for draft declarations came in April, always the day before the spring National Letter of Intent signing period for prospective college athletes. Although it aided college coaches from a recruiting standpoint, where they could pitch unsigned recruits with full knowledge of their roster for the upcoming season, the old rule forced players to decide on their future before NBA evaluators could maximize their access to prospects. Last year’s date was April 16, 60 days prior to the actual draft.
College players will be allowed to participate in the combine multiple times without jeopardizing their eligibility, meaning players can theoretically declare for the draft each year and then withdraw prior to the deadline if they choose. They will also be allowed to work out once per NBA franchise per year. The rules used to stipulate that players who officially declared for the draft twice would lose their collegiate eligibility. Underclassman can now declare for the draft, work out at the combine, and then use the next 10 days to make a final, informed decision based on feedback from teams.
“The cooperation between the NCAA, NBA and NABC was vital to the success of this idea, said Dan Guerrero, chair of the men’s basketball oversight committee and athletics director at UCLA. “We reached an excellent outcome that will undoubtedly benefit every group involved, most importantly the student-athlete,” Guerrero said. “We all worked toward the same goal – providing students and their families with the opportunity to assess their future professional sports prospects in a realistic timeline. The rule change will allow students the chance to pursue their dreams while still preserving their ability to play collegiately.”
The draft combine is by NBA invitation only. The NCAA also announced that players invited to the combine will be able to work out with their college coaches prior to their withdrawal from the draft for up to four hours a day and for up to 20 hours per week, as opposed to the typical instruction limits of eight hours per week and no more than two hours of skill instruction. According to the release, this is by design to allow students to complete their coursework while also training for the draft, and also help prevent the exchange of improper benefits from agents and the accompanying eligibility issues.
The draft combine is by NBA invitation only. The 2016 NBA draft lottery is scheduled for May 17, with the draft itself set for June 23.
- Jeremy Woo