College basketball and the NBA Draft’s divergent deadlines meet between now and Aug. 17. Luka Garza, Jared Butler and key college basketball players on the fence decided to stay earlier this week. Within several days, the NCAA announced the cancellation of its Division III championships, a sign of fall hardship to come.
Jeff Goodman and free agent college basketball writer Rob Dauster doubt that much will change before the final NBA Draft entry deadline in two weeks. Though they debated whether there’ll be more stability in college basketball or the pros amid the coronavirus pandemic. Neither the NBA nor the G-League holds a plan for next season, while Dauster pointed out overseas teams largely set their rosters in August.
“If you had to ask me who the biggest winner is,” Dauster said. “It’s college basketball … all of these guys ended up coming back to school. I kind of feel bad for them, because I’m sure a lot of them wanted to start earning at that level that they could in the NBA, but for college basketball it made it really exciting for the start of next season.”
Next season remains in flux as the college football season appears inevitably condensed, at best, to conference play. The Ivy League cancelled fall sports until January, leaving some college basketball teams with holes in their schedules during November and December’s non-conference slates.
The NBA will likely need a bubble if they start in December and with this season’s G-League season getting shelved early, it could leave the hopeful entrants to its NBA pathway program in flux as the NBA prioritizes the pros.
“Let’s let these kids see if there’s going to be college football in late August or not,” Goodman said. “Because if there’s not, the odds aren’t great there’s going to be college basketball.”
The NBA’s deadline leaves little recourse for players like Garza. He could go overseas, given his Bosnian passport, if roster space becomes available anywhere. Nonetheless, Dauster believes going back provides the most stable situation for players.
“At the very least, you’ll have a scholarship, you’re going to have a place to stay, you’re gong to have a place to work out, you’re going to have food paid for, you’re going to have insurance,” Dauster said. “That’s where the certainty was.”