CHAPEL Hill, N.C. – In June 2008, Roy Williams was still not sure the roster makeup of his 2008-09 basketball team that would end up winning the national championship 10 months later.
Ty Lawson, Wayne Ellington and Danny Green had participated in the NBA’s Pre-Draft Camp at the Milk House Arena at Disney’s Wide Wide World of Sports from May 27-30, and their draft evaluations were going.
Green, for example, left Lake Buena Vista with workouts scheduled with Miami, Cleveland, Washington, and San Antonio and discussions taking place with Chicago and Toronto. Back then, underclassmen had until Apr. 27 to enter their names into the NBA Draft, and provided they did not hire an agent, they had until June 16 to withdraw and maintain collegiate eligibility.
UNC announced the trio’s decision to return to school for the 2008-09 season on June 16.
In August 2009, new NCAA legislation moved the date in which underclassmen had to remove their names from the NBA Draft to the day before the spring signing period in early April, thereby placating college coaches while hurting student-athletes’ ability to acquire sufficient data for a potential jump to the professional ranks. Last season, underclassmen had to withdraw their names from the NBA draft list on April 16.
Last week, the NCAA announced significant athlete-friendly changes to the NBA Draft process by reversing the 2009 rule. Starting this spring, underclassmen must remove their names from the NBA draft list 10 days after the conclusion of the NBA draft combine. That date this year is May 25, as the draft camp runs May 11-15 in Chicago.
While Williams was a vocal critic of the mid-June withdrawal date following the summer of ’08, he was also instrumental in shaping the current rule change intended to aid the decision-making process for student-athletes.
“There’s got to be a better balance in there, and I think that this calendar will address that, and I think it helps the kids more,” the 13th-year UNC head coach said on Friday. “I think it’s not as bad as it used to be by any means for the coaches, so I think it’s a good compromise, too.”
Another change is that underclassmen can enter the NBA Draft in multiple seasons without jeopardizing eligibility – student-athletes previously could only enter their names once – and they can also participate in the combine and work out for each NBA team once per year.
“It’s the way it should be,” Williams said. “I like that. Just because you do it one time, and you decide to pull out, doesn’t mean your game can’t change, and your attractiveness can’t change, so I think it’s good.”
An additional benefit to underclassmen testing the waters is increased practice time with their college head coach. If a student-athlete earns an invite to the combine, he is eligible to work out with his college coaches for up to 20 hours per week from the time he receives his invitation until the time he withdraws his name from the draft.
The NCAA Division I Council added this practice benefit to encourage student-athletes to remain on campus to complete their academic studies for the spring semester.