The Latest on underclassmen who hired an agent before entering the NBA draft (all times local):
Several college basketball players from lower divisions are among the 233 early entrants in the NBA draft.
Six players from Division II and one from Division III declared early for the draft. There were 175 players from colleges or other educational institutions as well as 58 international players.
Players have until 11:59 p.m. Wednesday to withdraw if they plan to return to school. A new rule allowed Division I players to sign with an agent and still preserve their college eligibility, though that didn’t extend to Division II and Division III.
The Division II entrants include Glenville State’s Phil Bledsoe, who faces uncertainty over his status after signing with an agent amid confusion over the new rule before withdrawing from the draft. Shaw’s Amir Hinton, Point Loma Nazarene’s Daulton Hommes and Texas-Permian Basin’s Jacob Ledoux have indicated they plan to remain in the draft. It wasn’t immediately clear whether Shaw’s Davon Dillard and Morehouse’s Ayinde Russell will remain in the draft.
In Division III, Olivet’s Trevor Manuel tweeted last month he had declared to “pursue my dreams of playing in the NBA.”
The NCAA says Division II and Division III schools will evaluate the new rule that allows college basketball players to sign with agents but maintain college eligibility while declaring for the NBA draft.
The rule currently only applies to Division I players.
In the statement to The Associated Press Wednesday, NCAA spokeswoman Stacey Osburn says the rule adopted last summer followed recommendations from the Condoleezza Rice-led Commission on College Basketball “regarding the Division I environment” amid a federal corruption investigation into the sport. Osburn says schools in Division II and Division II will “evaluate the impact” of the new rule following its implementation at the Division I level and consider whether to adopt it.
Confusion over the rule has led to uncertainty for Glenville State’s Phil Bledsoe, a Division II player who signed with an agent but withdrew from the draft ahead of Wednesday night’s deadline to withdraw and preserve college eligibility.
Osburn declined to speak on any individual cases, but says schools with players impacted by rules changes “can work through existing processes to seek potential solutions.”
The new NCAA rule designed to help players explore their NBA draft potential by allowing them to sign with an agent and still return to school surprisingly doesn’t apply to all college players.
It was a stunning revelation for Phil Bledsoe from tiny Division II Glenville State in West Virginia when he learned the rule adopted amid the college basketball scandal only applies to Division I players.
Though Bledsoe followed the meticulous guidelines outlined by the NCAA to take advantage of the rule, he found out Tuesday that the restriction leaves him entangled in bureaucratic limbo and his college status unclear. He pulled out of the draft before Wednesday night’s 11:59 p.m. NCAA deadline for underclassmen to withdraw if they plan to return to campus.
“This didn’t need to happen,” Bill Lilly, the dismayed compliance coordinator at Glenville State who made the mistake, told The Associated Press. “I could’ve avoided it, but we could’ve had help in avoiding this thing, too, because we weren’t trying to sneak anything by anyone. We were just trying to give the kid the option we thought he had, and now he doesn’t have it.”
The NCAA did not immediately respond to inquiries about why the rule doesn’t apply to all college basketball players.
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