Rumos, new rule jumbles draft decisions

There were those who anticipated an insane number of early entries when the NBA released the official list on Thursday.

The agents and runners were spreading the word to the underclassmen that they would be wise to come out now due to the threat of an NBA lockout -- or work stoppage, at the very least. The new collective bargaining agreement would slash the rookie salaries.

There was also this new and early May 8 deadline, implemented by the NCAA after numerous college coaches had complained that the mid-June deadline dragged the process on far too long.

"I heard all that," said Seton Hall guard Jeremy Hazell, one of the 80 college players on the list, about the potential lockout. "But it didn't matter to me."

"That's accurate," Baylor's junior big man Ekpe Udoh, who will sign with an agent and bypass his final season in college, said about agents and others telling him he should leave due to the potential lockout.

"I've heard that."

The bottom line here is that no one knows whether there will be a lockout or a work stoppage.

I spoke to NBA general managers, and none of them had a clue.

"No idea," one said.

"Anything could happen," said another.

Some coaches felt that the number of those who declared would reach triple-digits due to all the uncertainty.

However, just six more college underclassmen declared from last year's tally of 74, and that was up from the 70 who tossed their names into the ring in 2008.

"I expected it to be higher," Georgia Tech coach Paul Hewitt admitted.

But the number that truly matters isn't 80. Instead, it's how many of those 80 are still around in the wake of the May 8 deadline.

That's what matters because frankly, there's no downside in doing what UMass junior guard Anthony Gurley did -- throwing his name in the ring with the hope of getting an NBA workout or two.

"I just figured I have nothing to lose," Gurley said.

He's right.

Each of the past two years, there have been 39 college underclassmen who have remained in the NBA draft prior to the withdrawal deadline.

Last year, 18 were selected in the first round, eight more were taken in the second round and 13 of them weren't taken at all.

In 2008, 21 went in the first round and eight more were taken in the second round, leaving 10 that weren't selected.

Among those who weren't selected were guys like C.J. Giles, Shawn James, Bruce Price, Kareem Cooper, Nate Miles and Brandon Costner -- guys that either were given bad information or guys that just didn't want to be in college.

Will there be players who make mistakes?

Absolutely.

Could Xavier's Derrick Brown have slid into the first round if he had stuck around one more season?

Possibly.

But coming back can also hurt you.

Just ask Iowa State's Craig Brackins, an almost certain first-rounder and potential lottery pick a year ago who may slide into the second round in June.

It will be interesting this year to see how many of these guys remain with the NCAA-imposed deadline to withdraw more than a month earlier than in the past.

Most of the players in limbo have already received information regarding their projected draft status from the NBA's draft advisory committee but were hoping to gain more knowledge from workouts.

However, that isn't likely since there is just a nine-day window for the players to work out for NBA teams -- and the NCAA has said they aren't allowed to miss class to participate in workouts.

Add in the fact that few NBA teams are expected to hold workouts prior to the Chicago combine, which will take place in three weeks.

Purdue's Matt Painter has two players who have opted to test the NBA waters -- juniors JaJuan Johnson and E'Twaun Moore -- and he said that the early withdrawal date was well-received when it was altered a year ago.

"This short window makes it difficult to make a decision," Painter said. "It sounded friendly in theory, but the reality is that you're not going to get a player in May, anyway, unless it's a transfer.

"I think the NCAA needs to work with the NBA and come up with a date that works for both."

It would make more sense to have the NCAA's deadline to withdraw a few weeks later, say in the third week of May, so players are able to gather more information, attend multiple workouts and even participate in the Chicago combine.

That way just about everyone wins.