Big day: College coaches wait to see if players stay, or go
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) The first NBA deadline college coaches had circled on their calendars was Sunday – the last date players could declare for the draft.
The next date they have circled is May 24. That’s when players who have entered the draft but not hired an agent have can withdraw and return to school if they aren’t comfortable with the feedback they’re getting from NBA teams.
National powers like Duke, Kentucky and UCLA took significant roster hits by losing one-and-done talent who planned to sign with agents in recent weeks. That group includes the Blue Devils’ Jayson Tatum, the Bruins’ Lonzo Ball and Kansas forward Josh Jackson.
But teams like Michigan State (Miles Bridges), Arizona (Allonzo Trier) and Notre Dame (Bonzie Colson) got good news with the return of big names for next season.
But there are more than just a handful of players testing the draft waters but haven’t hired an agent, which allows them to work out for NBA teams and maintain their college eligibility – if they withdraw by May 24.
Here’s a look at some of the players who have not hired an agent:
TONY BRADLEY, NORTH CAROLINA
The 6-foot-11 freshman was a reliable frontcourt reserve for the national champion Tar Heels. He could have a starring role if he returns.
Bradley averaged 7.1 points and 5.1 rebounds and shot 57.3 percent from the floor while playing behind seniors Kennedy Meeks and Isaiah Hicks. Bradley seems in position to significantly help his draft stock (possibly late first round) by returning and putting up big numbers as UNC’s clear No. 1 option in the paint.
In addition to Bradley, the school said Monday that Final Four most outstanding player Joel Berry II and junior Theo Pinson are testing the waters, too. If they all return, UNC will be an Atlantic Coast Conference contender again.
HAMIDOU DIALLO, KENTUCKY
The 6-5 guard arrived on campus as a midyear enrollee and is already in the draft despite the fact he’s yet to play a college game.
Granted, it seems more likely he will be getting ready for his college debut by the fall as the Wildcats seek to replace one-and-done stars Malik Monk and De’Aaron Fox. Diallo said in February that the plan was ”for me to get prepared for next year” when asked about the possibility of entering this summer’s draft and that he would talk with coach John Calipari about it after the season.
Diallo said in Sunday’s news release that he wanted to ”keep all doors open” and see where his game is by working out for NBA personnel.
DONOVAN MITCHELL, LOUISVILLE
The 6-3 sophomore guard took a big leap forward last year to lead the Cardinals in scoring at 15.6 points per game and make himself a first-team all-ACC pick.
He announced on his Instagram account in March that he has ”not decided to leave Louisville” but wants to work out for NBA teams in hopes of participating in next month’s combine. He’s been mentioned as a possible first-round pick, but he could return to rejoin No. 2 scorer Quentin Snider (12.4 points) to form a strong, veteran backcourt.
JOHNATHAN MOTLEY, BAYLOR
The 6-foot-10 junior was an AP second-team All-American while averaging 17.3 points and a Big 12-best 9.9 rebounds, helping the Bears reach the NCAA Sweet 16 and earn a No. 1 ranking in the AP Top 25.
Motley’s rebounding and length appear to have him as a late first-round prospect if he stays in the draft. Or he could return to school and be the focal point for coach Scott Drew’s offense on a team that could surround him with several experienced pieces.
CALEB SWANIGAN, PURDUE
The 6-9 sophomore was an AP first-team All-American and Big Ten player of the year who put up huge numbers (18.5 points, 12.5 rebounds and 3.1 assists) and ranked second nationally in rebounding.
Swanigan looks like a late first-round pick if he stays in the draft. If he returns to the Boilermakers, he could be a candidate for national player of the year.
JOHNATHAN WILLIAMS, GONZAGA
The Zags are losing AP second-team All-American Nigel Williams-Goss and 7-foot freshman Zach Collins as both players have declared and plan to hire an agent after the team’s run to the NCAA title game. Throw in the losses of seniors Przemek Karnowski and Jordan Mathews, and Gonzaga sure could use Williams next season.
The 6-9 redshirt junior averaged 10.2 points and 6.4 rebounds while shooting 59 percent as a first-team all-conference performer who could occasionally pop out to 3-point range.
Williams said he was hoping to ”see where I stand” in Friday’s announcement of his draft declaration.
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