It didn’t take long for some college basketball stars to declare for the 2017 NBA Draft. Lonzo Ball did so in the locker room following UCLA’s season-ending loss to Kentucky in the Sweet 16. Others have taken longer to reveal their intentions. There is no doubt that projected first round pick and 2017 NCAA Champion Justin Jackson will declare for the draft, but he hasn’t said anything about it yet.
The deadline to declare for the draft is April 23, and for players who choose to test the NBA waters, the deadline to withdraw from the draft is May 24, ten days after the final day of the combine. The NCAA allows players to attend the draft combine and receive feedback from NBA scouts before they make their decisions. However, a player cannot return to school once he has signed with an agent. Which players should return to school after working out at the combine?
1. Bam Adebayo
While fellow Kentucky Wildcat freshmen Malik Monk and De’Aaron Fox have signed with agents, Adebayo has not, meaning he is eligible to return to school. Adebayo should take advantage of the combine system by using another year in school to work on the weaknesses that his feedback shows. Adebayo showcased his elite play-making ability this season with thunderous dunks and athletic plays. In order to succeed in an NBA that values stretch-4’s, though, Adebayo needs to improve his shooting ability. Adebayo’s zero attempts from beyond the 3-point arc show propensity to stay near the basket. He must learn how to step outside the paint if he wants to have a successful professional career.
2. James Blackmon Jr.
After Indiana’s incredibly disappointing season, Blackmon, Rob Johnson, OG Anunoby and Thomas Bryant all declared for the NBA draft. Blackmon has yet to sign with an agent, and he should keep it that way. The concern with Blackmon isn’t his scoring prowess (17.0 ppg), shooting ability (42% from 3), or durability (30 minutes per game). It’s his ability to take care of the ball. Blackmon had more turnovers this season than assists, an inexcusable stat for point guards. Blackmon should return to school to work on his decision-making.
3. Tony Bradley
North Carolina will be losing starters Kennedy Meeks and Isaiah Hicks to graduation and Jackson to the NBA, but the Tar Heels have a real chance of competing for another championship if Joel Berry and Bradley return to school. Berry has not said if he will participate in the combine, but Bradley told reporters after the National Championship that he would. Bradley possesses the size and athleticism to be a good forward in the NBA, but he doesn’t have enough experience. Bradley only averaged about 15 minutes per game this season. He should return to school so he can fully showcase his skills in a star role for Carolina.