Recent Big 12 Conference history proves it's better to stay in school

Hield, Niang, Selden and Ellis have all improved with additional time in school

When he first got to Kansas, Wayne Selden was considered by some to be a potential one-and-done candidate. The junior now has a complete game on the offensive end, and his stock couldn’t be any higher.

Fans joke that Perry Ellis has been playing at Kansas for a decade. Instead, he’s just been starting for four years. Iowa State’s Georges Niang  could have left the Cyclones multiple times with a game complete enough to play professionally, but he always stuck around.

Buddy Hield went from hopeful second-round pick to potential lottery pick and a contender for national player of the year. When he decided to come back to Oklahoma, he also turned the Sooners into a national championship contender.

All have had to make the decision to return to school, but after the NCAA declared that players have until May 25 to decide whether to leave or return to school, there will be an extra month to get the right information.

The recent results within the Big 12 Conference have shown that it’s never a bad decision to return.

“It worked out really well for me,” Hield said. “It’s just something I knew I had to do. I just had to suck it up and come back and get better. Once I got better, no one could say this or that about me. That was the ultimate goal: To come back and get better.”

The new deadline is 10 days after the NBA Draft Combine, giving players as many opportunities as possible to get the most information possible.

“I think it’s a great, great, great first step,” Kansas coach Bill Self said. “. . . Obviously, this is something that they felt like would be good for them and also to help student athletes make more informed decisions.”

Oklahoma State coach Travis Ford agreed with Self, but West Virginia coach Bob Huggins was adamantly against the rule change when asked about it on the Big 12 coaches teleconference Monday.

“I think it puts the other 12 guys at a disadvantage,” He said. “It’s great if the guy comes back. If the guy doesn’t come back, it’s too late to fill that spot. . . . I think sometimes we make rules that are good for individuals that aren’t good for the whole. I kind of always thought we should do what’s best for the whole team.”

Niang, Hield, Selden and Ellis have all made the decision to stay in school, but many former Big 12 players made the jump to the NBA Draft. Joel Embiid , Ben McLemore and Andrew Wiggins have all had success after playing just one season at Kansas in just the past few years.

It’s still never a cut-and-dry decision. Sometimes it’s the right decision to go. Sometimes it’s the right decisions to stay. Even the coaches around the conference who liked the rule change believe it’s still not perfect yet.

“After this is tested for a year or two and find out how it’s working, some advanced steps can be made by the NBA if it’s working for them to help the kids moving forward,” Self said. “. . . I think what we had before was broken. I think this comes closer to fixing it.”

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