The decision for a college basketball player to turn pro or not can seem like an easy one to an outside observer. On the surface, it seems like a decision to either turn pro and start making money this year or to bet on yourself and return to school to potentially make even more money next year.
That certainly seems like the situation West Virginia point guard Miles “Deuce” McBride is in. Currently graded as a late selection in the first round, McBride is almost certain to be drafted this summer, if he so chooses, and make a good bit of money. Or he could return to WVU to play the 2021-22 season in hopes of being drafted even higher next summer.
The situation is not that clear cut, however, and the decision not that simple, WVU coach Bob Huggins explained Tuesday.
“You take, for example, a Marcus Smart,” Huggins started. “If he had come out after his freshman year, where he was projected he would’ve made $653,000 a year. It’s a lot of money. But he stayed so the next draft year he moved up in the draft and he made 3.7 million.”
After playing two years at Oklahoma State, Smart was the sixth-overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft.
“I think those things are things that guys have to take a really hard look at; where am I going to be in the draft and who’s on the team that potentially I want to get drafted by.”
McBride had a breakout sophomore season for the Mountaineers last year. He averaged a team-high 15.9 points per game with 3.9 rebounds and 4.8 assists. He shot 43.1% from the floor and 41.4% on 3-pointers. He was named a Second Team All-Big 12 selection, an honorable mention All-American and to two All-District teams following the season.
He entered his name into the draft process following the season but has maintained the possibility that he could return to Morgantown. A strong showing at the NBA Draft Combine last week further strengthened his draft stock.
West Virginia's Deuce McBride was absolutely on fire to start the shooting drills at the NBA Combine. Really popped physically and defensively, recently moving into the late first round of the ESPN mock draft. pic.twitter.com/ahIi9YThaG
— Jonathan Givony (@DraftExpress) June 23, 2021
Even past just being selected, however, Huggins said players have a lot of different scenarios to consider. Certainly not every draft pick plays a significant role on their team right away and not every draft pick even plays in the NBA their first year. How do you weigh that against being a standout college player?
“The G-League’s a very real thing,” Huggins said. “I think what happens sometimes is, the NBA season starts way before the G-League season starts. So those guys are able to hang on, sit on the bench and maybe get a few minutes in the big leagues and then as soon as the other league opens up, now they’re down there.”
This past season, the NBA began play on Dec. 22, 2020 and the G-League did not begin until Feb. 10, 2021.
“So now you’re in the G-League playing in Canton, Ohio in front of 25 people then you go home and turn on the TV and your teammates are playing in Allen Fieldhouse in front of 16,000 or they’re playing in the Coliseum in front of 14,000,” Huggins continued. “What price do you put on that? There’s a lot of things for 19, 20-year-olds to think about. Do you go right away or do you think you can come back, have a bigger year and move up?”
Huggins said the pandemic will complicate things even further with this summer’s draft.
“There was no draft last year, so you basically have three drafts in one,” Huggins said. “You have this year’s draft, you have last year’s draft and then the European deal. I think we all remember a guy who was projected five or six and he sat there and there were six or seven Europeans drafted before he was. And you could just see on his face, ‘what happened, what happened?’. There’s no way of knowing how many Europeans are coming.”
July 7 is the final date players can withdraw their name from the draft process and retain college eligibility. WVU had four players enter their names at the beginning of the offseason, McBride, Sean McNeil, Taz Sherman and Derek Culver. Culver signed with an agent, forgoing his eligibility and Sherman announced he will return to college. McBride and McNeil are the final two with outstanding decisions.
“It’s not as simple as one would maybe think it is,” Huggins said. “And it’s certainly not as simple as what the players think it is.”