MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Bill Self’s suggestion seemed to make sense. After all, with so many college basketball underclassmen going undrafted, why not allow them a chance to retain their amateurism as a fallback?
Kansas lost two juniors, along with a freshman who rarely broke a sweat, to the NBA’s calling. Neither Wayne Selden or Brannen Greene were picked, and sparingly used freshman Cheick Diallo went 33rd, three picks out of the guaranteed money.
So there was Self on Wednesday making an informal pitch for giving players “an extra protection layer” in the event reality swatted them down on draft night.
Good intentions, and theoretically good for college basketball, provided quality players actually returned.
Wouldn’t West Virginia fans love to see Devin Williams posting double-doubles as a senior rather than posting up somewhere in the D-League? What could Shaka Smart do in Year 2 with All-Big 12 point guard Isaiah Taylor coming back? Did Maryland super-freshman Diamond Stone anticipate falling to the 40th pick?
As Self points out, more than half of the 16 foreign players selected weren’t in most mock drafts, making the 60 available slots considerably more scarce. The math simply isn’t on the side of quality college players who exist in the margins.
Of course, this isn’t a new phenomenon. Any underclassman entering the draft unaware of the cautionary tales before him is ignoring history.
Allowing draft-night flameouts to return to their college programs might seem like a wonderful second chance, yet it would leave rosters unsettled until late summer, the kind of chaos college baseball coaches experience each year. That’s not a good chaos. And you can bet a do-over clause would send even more underclassmen into the fray.
Besides, college is about prepping for real life, where decisions carry consequences. We portray some athletes as being misled by NBA teams, but more problematic is the encouragement these players receive from relatives and handlers. Even the most well-meaning advisors can be delusional.
In cases like that, no fallback plan can protect a player from himself and the company he chooses.