Commentary

With Monday deadline looming, it's decision time for many players

Originally Published: June 13, 2008
By Andy Katz | ESPN.com

Ron Hunter is finding out what a number of higher-profile coaches have discovered the past few seasons: Sweating out the early-entry process isn't fun.

[+] EnlargeGeorge Hill
AP Photo/Reinhold MatayIUPUI's George Hill is still not sure whether he'll stay in the draft or return to school.

The IUPUI head coach has no idea what junior guard George Hill will do come Monday's deadline to withdraw from the NBA draft.

This year, it's been made easier for players and worse for the head coaches. The NCAA now allows NBA teams to pay the bills for all workouts. That means underclassmen who haven't signed with an agent will milk every last hour of the deadline to see whether they can get a guarantee from a team that they'll go in the first round or high enough in the second.

"This is crazy,'' Hunter said. "This is a terrible process for college basketball. It's a no-win situation. I'd rather just see the players say they're either in or out. This way is ridiculous."

Hill played in the pre-draft camp at Orlando's Walt Disney World two weeks ago. He then worked out for eight teams and has a workout scheduled with San Antonio on Friday. "He's played well every workout,'' Hunter said.

But Hunter is concerned that Hill may have worn himself out after he canceled workouts with Minnesota and Houston for next week. Hill is going back and forth on his decision and has been told that he will go somewhere between the 20th and 38th picks. If the guard gets that confirmation from NBA vice president Stu Jackson this weekend, Hunter firmly believes Hill will bolt IUPUI. He also mentioned that Hill was told he could be a top-20 pick next year.

This is crazy. This is a terrible process for college basketball. It's a no-win situation. I'd rather just see the players say they're either in or out. This way is ridiculous.

-- IUPUI coach Ron Hunter

Hill is still trying to grasp the reality of his situation, Hunter said. Hill wants to go on IUPUI's July trip to Africa to deliver more than 200,000 shoes that were donated through Samaritan's Feet, a nonprofit organization whose goal is to give shoes to 10 million people in 10 years. But if Hill stays in the draft, he'll be playing summer league and can't go. Just to add a little more pressure to the decision, Hunter said Hill would have to make a decision on whether he's going on the trip by the weekend.

"The problem with this process is that if a player goes back to school, he probably feels like he failed,'' Hunter said. "I don't know what's going to happen.''

Who else has to make a decision by Monday's deadline?

A.J. Abrams, junior, Texas: This may sound redundant, but Texas coach Rick Barnes doesn't know what Abrams will do on Monday. Abrams' range is second round to undrafted. Keep in mind that he wasn't invited to the pre-draft camp.

Josh Akognon, junior, Cal State Fullerton: Once again, Akognon has no shot to get drafted based on conversations with NBA teams. But that shouldn't stop someone like him from staying in the draft.

[+] EnlargeJoe Alexander
Christopher Pasatieri/US PresswireWest Virginia's Joe Alexander probably won't be wearing a Mountaineers uniform next season.

Joe Alexander, junior, West Virginia: Alexander likely will stay in the draft because he is a legitimate candidate to be selected as high as No. 8 to Milwaukee.

Ryan Anderson, sophomore, Cal: Anderson said late Thursday night that he will take as much time as possible with his decision. He just completed four straight days of workouts and will attend a group workout this weekend in the Bay Area. This one is a tough call because he's a borderline first-round pick.

Chase Budinger, sophomore, Arizona: Budinger is considered a first-round pick. This will be another tough call because he certainly would go higher next year. The pull is that he could go back to play for Lute Olson after not having had that chance this past season. The consensus for weeks has been that Budinger would stay in the draft, but it's hard to predict whether he'll opt to return.

Mario Chalmers, junior, Kansas: Chalmers is showing no sign that he'll return to school. He won't make up his mind until Sunday night, but all indications are that he'll stay in the draft because he seems to be a lock for the first round. He'll huddle with his father, Ronnie, after working out this weekend and will make an official announcement on Monday.

Lee Cummard, junior, BYU: Cummard didn't get an invite to the Orlando pre-draft camp, but he got a few workouts. Common sense says he'll return to BYU. But what about this process is sensical?

Robert Dozier, junior, Memphis: Dozier went to China with the Memphis/Conference USA squad. That seemed to indicate he definitely would return to school. But Dozier came back from the trip to go through workouts. He's a second-round possibility, but he'll have to decide whether he wants to take that gamble.

Wayne Ellington, sophomore, North Carolina: Ellington may find it hard to get a first-round guarantee this weekend. If that's the case, expect him to return to the Tar Heels, unless he has lowered his standards. He wanted to go in the first round and talked openly about going back to school if he was projected in the second. We'll see.

Jamont Gordon, junior, Mississippi State: Gordon will stay in the draft. So says the Mississippi State coaching staff. As soon as Gordon declared, the staff fully expected him to stay, but he didn't sign with an agent. That will change in a week.

[+] EnlargeDanny Green
AP Photo/Sara D. DavisNorth Carolina's Danny Green might not get the NBA guarantee he's looking for this weekend.

Danny Green, junior, North Carolina: Green was injured in Orlando but was healthy enough to compete in workouts the past 10 days. One NBA executive said this week that he is a four-year player. That's not a good indicator that he'll get a guarantee he'll be picked by the second round if he stays in the draft.

Richard Hendrix, junior, Alabama: Hendrix was OK with going in the second round. If his attitude hasn't changed in the past week, he may just stay in the draft. He's penciled in as a possible second-round pick.

J.J. Hickson, freshman, NC State: Florida's Marreese Speights announced Thursday he was staying in the draft. He's signing with agent Andy Miller. Miller is also advising Hickson, and the expectation is that Hickson will do the same by Monday.

Lester Hudson, junior, Tennessee-Martin: Hudson probably won't get a commitment. He also said in Orlando two weeks ago that he was OK with going back to Martin. But Hudson is 23 years old and soon to be 24. His age could weigh heavily on his decision.

Ty Lawson, sophomore, North Carolina: From nagging ankle injuries that put off a Denver workout and contributed to an early exit in a workout in Washington to getting pulled over for a DUI and playing loud music in Chapel Hill, Lawson has had an eventful few weeks. Still, he's considered the next point guard after Chalmers to be selected, which would put him somewhere from No. 20 (Denver) on down. If Lawson decides to go back to school Monday, it probably would be a surprise.

• Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, junior, UCLA: Mbah a Moute will talk to his father sometime this weekend before making a final decision. "It's going to be a tough decision,'' he said. The forward has worked out for Boston, Dallas, Chicago, Milwaukee and Charlotte and was told he could be a first-round pick in next year's draft. But he said he also was told that he could go high enough in the second and make a roster for next season. He said he's felt good about all his workouts from the Orlando pre-draft to the individual team sessions.

Jeremy Pargo, junior, Gonzaga: Pargo won't get a guarantee in the first round. He likely would be a second-round pick. Gonzaga coach Mark Few has no idea what Pargo will do Monday. Pargo's decision will come down to whether he wants to go back to Spokane or take his chances like his brother, Jannero, and try to make the NBA the hard way -- without a guaranteed contract.

Ronald Steele, redshirt senior, Alabama: Alabama coach Mark Gottfried is expecting drama all weekend. Steele probably wouldn't be drafted if he stays in the draft. That's the word from a number of NBA teams. But all it would take is for one team to like him. It's hard to say that team is out there for Steele -- he didn't even play last season because of a knee injury.

Robert Vaden, junior, UAB: Blazers coach Mike Davis said Thursday that Vaden shot the ball consistently well in his workouts. He has one more workout left before the deadline, and that's Friday with Chicago. If Vaden can get some sort of assurance that he's going high enough in the second round, he'll probably stay in the draft. But getting that assurance is a tough call. Davis said he thinks Vaden is 50-50. He has a workout set for Monday with Detroit, so this could go down to the final minutes.

Bill Walker, redshirt freshman, Kansas State: Wildcats coach Frank Martin said Walker will exhaust every possible minute. He doesn't fault Walker, but he does have a problem with the system that allows this kind of drawn-out process. "Kansas won the championship on April 7, and two months later there are still guys making decisions,'' Martin said. Walker is projected to go late in the first round, and that may be enough to keep him in the draft.

Andy Katz is a senior writer at ESPN.com.

Andy Katz | email

Senior Writer, ESPN.com