May 25th, the final day for collegiate basketball players to announce their intentions for the 2016 NBA draft. One of those players, the Mountaineers Devin Williams, is still in the process of evaluating whether he should take that next step or return to WVU for his final season. So while Williams weighs his options Coach Huggins and WVU must wait.
The new rule allows college players to declare for the NBA draft yet return to school as long as they do not sign with an agent. Players are allowed to attend the combine and even visit with NBA teams. All of this can be done as long as it is completed by May 25th.
Here is the issue, national letter of intent signing period starts today and goes through May 18th. This means that it is very likely Williams will not have made his decision before the end of the signing period. No way does WVU sign another player without knowing whether or not Williams will be returning. That is not a question by the way, that is a statement. But what happens if Williams decides to officially make himself available for the NBA by signing on with an agent on say…… May 19th?
Well the answer is simple, WVU would have an open scholarship available, one that could have potentially gone to a replacement for Williams. The problem here is not Williams, who is weighing one of the biggest decisions of his life. The problem is the timetable in which the NCAA has put on the deadlines. There is a week between the end of the NCAA signing period and when players have to officially decide to declare for the draft.
You just don’t push a young man into a decision like this. At the end of the day this is his life, his future. So why has the NCAA handcuffed schools? Well it doesn’t affect that many schools. As Mitch Vingle wrote yesterday (read HERE) schools like Kentucky can replace an all-american with another all-american. Not many schools, including West Virginia, have that luxury. The NCAA sees this as an opportunity for young men to make educated decisions on their future without ruining their eligibility. It is without a doubt in the best interests of players like Devin. But situations like these can not appease all parties involved. And in this case it is the school that must wait.
And let’s be honest, it really is not fair to Devin who inadvertently putting WVU in a tough spot by no fault of his own. There is enough pressure for the junior forward without knowing a school is waiting on his decision. Why didn’t the NCAA make the signing period and deadline for the NBA coincide, better yet extend the signing period past the NBA deadline? This would have been the simplest solution and one I would expect be rectified in the future. But for now, schools like WVU will wait. And WVU is not the only Big 12 school to wait, Isaiah Taylor and Texas are in the same situation.
Will WVU survive if left in the predicament of having an open scholarship? Sure they will. Is it fair to WVU or Williams? No, not really.