At last count, there were a whopping 63 college underclassmen and graduating high school seniors that declared themselves eligible for the NBA draft. While that number itself is surprising, what may be more surprising is that at least eleven of those players have closed the door behind them to any opportunity they may have to return to their teams by hiring at agent.
For those players who do not hire an agent, they have the opportunity to withdraw their names from consideration by June 21 (one week before the actual NBA draft) and return to their team.
With just 30 first round draft picks, which guarantees a player a contract and a spot on the roster, it doesn't take a college graduate to figure out that with 63 early entries, a growing list of European players and an untold number of graduating seniors, all hoping to hear their name called on draft day, that a lot of players will find themselves deeply disappointed at the end of the night on June 28.
So why would an underclassman hire an agent and lose his remaining college eligibility if he doesn't have to? There are a few reasons. The most obvious (and practical) may be for a player like Utah's Andrew Bogut or North Carolina's Marvin Williams. Both players are certain lottery picks and there may be little reason to not have representation right away.
Chris Monter of nbadraftnews.com believes another reason may be more shortsighted on a player's part, "Some agents will offer a player money up front or a line of credit they can use right away for a car or an apartment," Monter said, "and in addition, agents can hire the player a personal trainer, supervise workouts and otherwise prepare and advise a player for NBA pre-draft camp and the individual workouts."
Yet another reason might be the promise that an agent can leverage his relationships with NBA General Managers to negotiate the player into a pick or a higher pick. Former University of Kentucky player Bret Bearup now runs a company that manages investments for dozens of professional athletes. He says these promises are often made but questions how often they are actually fulfilled.
"An agent can certainly go pitch to a player that they can get them drafted or drafted higher but I simply have not seen that work very often," Bearup said, "The NBA teams fly their scouts and general managers thousands and thousands of miles to evaluate dozens players, and for just one or two picks. These one or two picks are critical to the future success of their teams. In the end, they are simply not going to call an agent and listen to what they say about one guy."
Bearup says that another huge risk is for a player to listen to an NBA General Manager who might say that they would use their late first round pick to choose them. "It's not a contract. They player would be taking the GM at his word. And there are always surprises. The GM may be shocked to see a player they liked better still available when their pick comes around. It happens frequently. The GM is always going to take the very best player available."
In the end, it appears that, unless you are a player of the caliber of Andrew Bogut, that the short-term reward of hiring an agent is tremendously offset by the substantial risk involved with the consequences of hiring an agent prematurely.