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Top of the Arc - January 12, 2009

Jan. 12, 5:45 p.m.: It has become almost an annual rite of spring for some of the nation’s most prominent college basketball coaches.

After the Final Four, they watch their best non-seniors declare for the NBA draft, then they wait two months as players mull whether to return to school, decisions that often determine whether coaches need to scramble to find replacements late in the recruiting season.

That familiar scenario could change as soon as 2010. The NCAA Division I Legislative Council is scheduled to vote this week on an ACC proposal to sharply reduce the time underclassmen have to decide whether to remain in the draft. The issue promises to be one of the highlights of the NCAA convention, which is taking place this week at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center.

Underclassmen currently have until late April to enter their names in the draft, and until mid-June to pull out as long as they have not signed with an agent. The ACC’s proposal would give players about a 10-day window after April’s Final Four to make a final decision on the draft.

“If you give somebody forever to make a decision, they are going to take forever,” North Carolina Coach Roy Williams said. “It leaves your program in limbo. It leaves your current players in limbo.”

Williams found himself in limbo when three of his best players ---Ty Lawson, Wayne Ellington and Danny Green --- declared for the draft last spring. In mid-June, the three decided to return to school, an announcement that made North Carolina the clear favorite to win the 2009 national championship.

Many coaches believe the two months of uncertainty in the spring detracts from the development of the players still in the program and creates an atmosphere of confusion because of the possible turnover on rosters.

“For a two-month period, guys who may not be in your program become your priority,” Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski said. “And the guys who are still in the program don’t get any attention.”

Under the current deadline, coaches sometimes don’t know what kind of team they have for the following season until mid-June, after the signing period has ended and when there are few replacement players available. Florida State Coach Leonard Hamilton said during ACC media day that “too many kids are putting their names into the draft and taking their names out. Their names shouldn’t be in there in the first place. You have so many kids making poor decisions, it is obvious some of these kids are getting poor advice.”

Some players, such as Maryland’s Greivis Vasquez, believe 10 days would be too short a time to make such a significant decision. They feel it would be more difficult to get good advice on their future, and that they would not be able to base their decisions on feedback from workouts with NBA teams, which typically begin in May for underclassmen.

Maryland Coach Gary Williams, however, feels 10 days is enough time for players to accurately assess their draft status. He said the mid-June final deadline is at times irrelevant because a player who trains throughout the spring may be “too far gone” academically to return to school even if he does not hire an agent.

If approved by the Legislative Council, the Division I Board of Directors would consider the proposal on Saturday. The legislation will not affect the 2009 NBA draft, but it could have a significant effect on the college basketball landscape in the coming years.

“I think it adds some semblance of order in recruiting,” Krzyzewski said. “It is too much time. Either a kid is with you, or he is on to other things.”

By Eric Prisbell  |  January 12, 2009; 4:39 PM ET
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