After three months of basketball being put on hold, we finally have some answers as to what the draft process looks like for the class of 2020. The new tentative NCAA date for players to withdrawal from the draft is now 10 days after the NBA draft combine or Aug. 3, whichever date comes first. The draft lottery has been scheduled for Aug. 25 and the 2020 NBA draft is slated for Oct. 15 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.
Each year close to 200 college, prep and international players declare early for the draft. Some hire an agent right away and elect to stay in the draft, but most players declare to get feedback and ultimately decide to return to school or international teams. Right now there are about 60 college players expected to remain in the draft, 76 players likely testing the waters and 44 international players. That’s a lot of players for 60 draft spots, but keep in mind: Last year, 233 players declared for the draft with 136 players eventually returning to college or international teams.
There are plenty of variables a player considers when deciding whether to stay in the draft or return to school. What does next year’s draft class look like? Spoiler alert: It might be one of the deepest and most talented classes of the last 10 years. What incoming freshman could jeopardize playing time? If the player doesn’t want to return to school, what’s the next-best option? G League? Overseas?
Here are six players who could benefit from returning to play college basketball next season.
C Luka Garza
Ht./Wt.: 6-11, 260
23.9 ppg, 9.8 rpg
The junior was the runner-up to future lottery pick Obi Toppin as the Naismith Player of the Year. He led a very competitive Big Ten conference in scoring and was top five in rebounds. Garza declared for the draft with the option to return and has said he will take all feedback from meetings with teams, but if he doesn’t think he’ll make an NBA team, Garza will return to Iowa for his senior season. “That's the one thing about this process: I need to know for sure there will be an opportunity for me next year [in the NBA] because if I don't, it's too risky to leave behind what I have at Iowa. I don't want to do anything that I'm not sure about," Garza told ESPN.
What would it mean for him to return next year? He would be a frontrunner for Player of the Year, and Iowa would be a potential preseason top-10 team with guard Joe Wieskamp returning with fellow starters Connor McCaffery, Jordan Bohannon and CJ Fredrick. Garza has improved his stats in his three years at Iowa, and with NBA feedback on what he needs to do to improve, he could play his way into becoming a first-round draft pick next season in a very competitive draft class.
PG Remy Martin
Ht./Wt.: 6-0, 170
19.1 ppg, 4.1 apg
Arizona State has two of the top high school players coming in next year in five-stars Josh Christopher and Marcus Bagley. Marcus is the younger brother of Sacramento Kings forward Marvin Bagley III and had a monster senior high school season.
Martin putting his name in this year’s draft is questionable because of the amount of point guards staying in this year’s draft class. There is no doubt both Christopher and Bagley will take touches away from Martin next season, but there are more pros to returning than cons. Winning solves a lot of problems, and coach Bobby Hurley will have one of his best teams next season and it could be one of the top teams in the country. In this draft year where there are no workouts to show his speed and competitive edge, Martin’s best bet is to return to ASU for his senior season.
SF Aaron Henry
Ht./Wt.: 6-6, 210
10 ppg, 4.6 rpg
Michigan State finished in a three-way tie for first in the Big Ten with Maryland and Wisconsin, thanks to the leadership of point guard Cassius Winston. Henry saw a little more playing time his sophomore season than his freshman year, and his confidence on offense grew this past season. He shot twice as many threes and took 100 more jump shots, but his percentage wasn’t great, shooting 44 percent from the field and 34.4 percent from three.
Teammate Xavier Tillman is also testing the NBA waters and is the likely candidate to stay in the draft because of his size and length as an NBA big. With Winston leaving and only A.J. Hoggard and Mady Sissoko coming in next season, Henry’s role should expand on offense for his junior season and it will help his draft stock. There is always a risk with staying in school, but coach Tom Izzo tends to get the best out of his players, and it could be worth it for Henry to return and continue to build his game under a Hall of Fame coach.
PG Jared Butler
Ht./Wt.: 6-3, 190
16 ppg, 3.1 apg
Butler led Baylor to one of the best seasons in the Scott Drew era as a sophomore, and the Bears were No. 1 in the country for five straight weeks. He led the team with 16 points per game and was second in assists behind Davion Mitchell with 3.1 per game. Butler is a fierce competitor and Big 12 coaches think he would have excelled in a draft year when individual workouts were allowed. “In one-on-one situations, you can really see how quick he is on the court. I think not being able to showcase that speed and his passing in isolated situations to NBA teams is going to hurt him in this year’s draft,” a Big 12 assistant told Yahoo Sports.
Butler is showing up mock drafts as a mid-to-late second-round pick, which might encourage him to stay in this year’s draft. But again, with all the point guard talent coming out this year, Butler will benefit from returning to school for his junior year. His 3-point shooting needs some improvement, and with Baylor possibly returning Macio Teague next year as well, Baylor could have one of the deadliest backcourts in the country.
SG Isaiah Joe
Ht./Wt.: 6-5, 170
16.9 ppg, 4.1 rpg
Joe is another player showing up in mock drafts as a second-round pick despite being one of the best shooters in college basketball this past year. Joe is a high-volume shooter who shot 10 or more threes in 18 games yet shot only 34.2 percent from three. Joe’s most impressive game came early in January in a win over Ole Miss, when he hit seven 3-pointers and finished with 34 points. He led the SEC in 3-point field goals despite missing five games because of right right knee surgery.
Joe might have the toughest decision about returning to school. Teammate Mason Jones also declared for the draft and led the SEC in scoring at 22 points per game. Arkansas has five-star prospect Moses Moody coming in next year and he will open up shots on the perimeter for Joe with his playmaking ability. Joe could stay in the draft and get a two-way contract, or return to Arkansas for his junior season and prove to NBA scouts why he deserves a first-round look, while increasing his 3-point shooting percentage and playing alongside a potential lottery pick in Moody.
C Kofi Cockburn
Ht./Wt.: 7-0, 290
13.3 ppg, 8.8 rpg
Cockburn didn’t have a great freshman year at Illinois, averaging 27.4 minutes per game. His season highs were 23 points and 14 rebounds in a win over Grand Canyon University early in the season but was mostly inconsistent. He has great size and dominated the glass, finishing third in the Big Ten in offensive rebounds with 107.
He has great potential as an NBA big and can be a rotational player at the next level but hasn’t put everything together yet. Good news for the 7-foot center: Illinois has an elite backcourt coming in next season with Andre Curbelo and Adam Miller, both top-40 prospects.
Cockburn has the potential to have a breakout season like Udoka Azubuike had at Kansas this past year.
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