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Russ Smith: perfect example of why NCAA’s early entry deadline sucks

Apr 11, 2013, 2:45 PM EDT

Duke v Louisville Getty Images

On Monday night, Russ Smith won a national title.

He didn’t play his best game — in fact, he played one of his worst — but thanks to Peyton Siva and Luke Hancock, Smith got a ring.

By the time that Smith had finished meeting with the media and celebrating with his team, it was Tuesday, which meant that, according to the NCAA’s rules, he had all of a week to make the biggest decision of his life: whether or not he would enter his name into the NBA Draft.

Now, first things first: the NCAA’s deadline — which always coincides with the start of the spring signing period — means absolutely nothing. It’s a worthless deadline. The NBA’s deadline for entering the draft in April 28th, and since there is no more “testing the waters”, entering the draft means that a player is off to the NBA.

In other words, Smith has about three weeks to make the biggest decision of his life, but the problem is that with the way the system is structured, Smith isn’t going to be getting feedback directly from NBA teams. He has to hear it second had through his head coach, or trust that the NBA Undergraduate Advisory Committee, a panel of executives from 20 NBA teams, is giving them worthwhile information.

But there’s a problem with that process as well. Players aren’t going to be drafted off of a consensus opinion or off of a polling of where they stand on draft boards.

Guys like Cody Zeller and Victor Oladipo don’t have much to worry about. They’re getting picked in the first round, the only question ends up being where. The players that are scooped up at the end of the first round, however, do have a reason for concern. If they leave and they do’t get a guaranteed contract, they end up potentially wasting their eligibility for nothing more than a shot to play their way onto a summer league roster.

The guys in that 20-30 range get their guaranteed contract because there is one team that falls in love with their skill set. Or their potential. Or their ability to shoot. It’s not a popularity poll, it’s whether or not a team believes that player is the right fit. And they won’t know whether or not they are the right fit or have a team willing to use a late first pick on them unless they have a chance to work out with the NBA teams and get a feel how certain front offices value them.

But these kids can’t do that.

They can only guess what will happen. And it may be a partially-educated guess, but it won’t be one do with all the information that can be gathered.


Because these coaches didn’t want to be left in limbo while their stars were out flirting with the NBA. They wanted to know whether or not they had a spot to fill during the late signing period. They didn’t want to have to wait until late June to find out whether or not a player was going pro.

And as a result, it forces kids like Russ Smith to have to make tough, rushed decisions that can have a massive impact on their future.

The NCAA has a lot of dumb rules, but I’m not sure there are any that are worse than this.

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

  1. oruacat2 - Apr 11, 2013 at 3:10 PM

    A lot of things suck about the NCAA – this isn’t one of them IMO. That uncertainty is the gamble those kids take instead of the safe, certain decision to stay, and you can’t expect a program to put its own future on hold waiting on a kid whose dedication to that program, and future with that team, is put in doubt BY the player himself. Make that decision, take your chances, and good luck to you.

  2. iamhoraceknight - Apr 11, 2013 at 3:34 PM

    I disagree with you. If the NCAA really cared about the students then they would provide them with sound information. Granted, there will be some kids that leave no matter what, but providing the kids with sound information will keep kids in school that are not ready.

    • oruacat2 - Apr 11, 2013 at 4:39 PM

      How is the NCAA supposed to provide sound information regarding the intentions of NBA teams? If an NBA team “shows interest”, is that legally-binding? Not trying to be a smartass here – but really, how is the NCAA supposed to take the guesswork out of this process?

      This is where Calipair has an advantage – he has reliable NBA connections, so his advice, assessment, whatever you want to call it, is also fairly reliable – but not infallible. UK has Archie Goodwin jumping to the NBA, even though just about anyone with two eyes would tell you he’s not ready. Does UK put the entire program on hold just to wait for Goodwin to find that out on draft day? Of course not – he’s made his decision, he’s taking his chances, so he, and UK, is moving on – the quicker the better IMO.

    • oruacat2 - Apr 11, 2013 at 4:42 PM

      Whoops – I forgot – if the player doesn’t care about the “student” portion of “student/athlete”, is the NCAA supposed to overrule him?

  3. imforbigblue - Apr 11, 2013 at 6:54 PM

    He needs to jump this year as this draft is very very weak and I bet sneak in at the end of the first round as to next year will be a very strong draft and more than likely go 2nd round imo

  4. mungman69 - Apr 11, 2013 at 9:29 PM

    Let them go straight to the NBA. If a person is old enough to die in Iraq then he is old enough to play in the NBA.

  5. rodge1 - Apr 11, 2013 at 9:44 PM

    Why not get a useful degree just in case basketball doesn’t work out?

  6. honkerdawg - Apr 12, 2013 at 5:00 AM

    Just stay in school so that if you don’t make it in the NBA you at least have an education

  7. seanb20124 - Apr 12, 2013 at 9:25 AM

    He has has all season to decide what direction to go

  8. otissistrunk - Apr 12, 2013 at 5:17 PM

    The kid probably isn’t making it in school you go!

  9. mgavin78 - Apr 15, 2013 at 1:23 AM

    I wish the universities would see the light and disbar from the corrupt NCAA.

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