As the NCAA continues to make an attempt to reform college basketball in order to stop things like the current FBI scandal, many people are calling for undrafted underclassmen to be able to return to school.
It seems like a great and practical idea in theory. A sophomore has an average year, he’s hanging around the back-end of the second round in NBA Draft mocks, he doesn’t get a guarantee, but he likes his chances. So, he stays in the draft past the deadline, and he goes undrafted.
What’s wrong with allowing him to come back and play college basketball again?
There’s actually a lot of problems with that. One issue that Kentucky head coach John Calipari noted was that players who go undrafted are currently considered NBA free agents, and are free to sign with any team. The NBA would have to change its rules to say that players who return to college are no longer in the free-agent pool.
Otherwise, they could leave school midseason.
“So now he’s playing for me and he plays out of his mind in November and one of the NBA teams say, ‘We’re taking him.’ What about that move?” Calipari asked, according to CatsPause. “There are too many unknowns right now.”
That’s not to mention the fact that coaches like Calipari, who have a lot of roster turnover each year, would be left playing the guessing game when trying to recruit. How many guys can you sign if two or even three of your scholarship players could be coming back after they go undrafted?
UK athletics director Mitch Barnhart also has issues with the idea, but his concern stems more from responsibility.
“In today’s world, there is enough quality information to say, ‘This is where you’re probably going to land,’” Barnhart said. “If you take that information and decide to make that decision to leave a program I’m not sure I’m for the flexibility to have them be able to come back if it doesn’t work out.”
Some might scoff at the thought that the kids need to grow up and choose what they want to do instead of changing their minds, but that’s where Barnhart stands. He makes a good point.
Nonetheless, the theory of this argument makes sense. If players are left without a home after 60 names are called, letting them come back to school would be ideal. The execution of that idea would be much harder to do, though.