CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – Roy Williams expects some of his underclassmen to test the NBA waters in taking advantage of recent NCAA changes to the draft process.
In January, the NCAA reversed its 2009 coach-friendly legislation to allow basketball players adequate time to acquire sufficient data in determining their pro potential. Last season, players that declared for the draft had to withdraw their names by April 16, the day before the spring signing period.
The players now have until 10 days after the conclusion of the NBA draft combine to remove their names from the draft list. That date this year is May 25, as the draft camp runs May 11-15 in Chicago.
“I think that some of our guys will try to go to the combine, will declare and not hire an agent, and then see how they play in the combine, and I have no problem with that,” Williams said on Tuesday. “If I were the father of some of our players, I would get them to do the same thing.”
Four UNC underclassmen are potential candidates to enter the draft: junior forward Kennedy Meeks, junior forward Isaiah Hicks, sophomore wing Justin Jackson and sophomore guard Joel Berry. Meeks, Jackson and Berry were starters during UNC’s run to the national championship game earlier this month, while Hicks won the ACC’s Sixth Man of the Year award.
Williams will wrap up his postseason player interviews on Wednesday and expects a definitive answer next week as to which players will test the waters. Players have until April 24 to enter the draft.
The new NCAA legislation allows underclassmen to 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.
Williams agreed that student-athletes should take advantage of that rule change, saying, “If you are a good college player, why would you not?”
The Hall of Fame head coach was a vocal critic of the old NCAA legislation that prompted the initial change in August 2009. In 2008, Ty Lawson, Wayne Ellington and Danny Green had until June 16 to withdraw from the NBA Draft and maintain their eligibility. The most recent legislation is closer to the middle in helping players collect thorough NBA evaluations without punishing coaches seeking to solidify their rosters.
“I think this should be better, especially if the NBA does what they say they’re going to do,” Williams said. “If they will really be straightforward and honest with the kids, and say, ‘You’ll probably be top-30, you’ll be top-60.’ …
“If they will be truthful, I think it will be great. I don’t see any problems with it whatsoever. I’ve never been against guys going. I just want guys to go that will be a first-round pick where they’ve got guaranteed money.”
If any of the Tar Heels enter their names into the draft, the NCAA rules allows the player(s) to work out with his college coaches for up to 20 hours per week from the time he receives his invitation to the combine until the time he withdraws his name from the draft. That benefit was added to encourage student-athletes to remain on campus to complete their academic studies for the spring semester.