West Virginia coach Bob Huggins has had many players enter their names into the NBA draft as a way to find out how they are viewed by the league and where they might be drafted at.
He has never had a player do that in such an uncertain time, however, as freshman Oscar Tshiebwe did last week.
“Well, I’ve never really had anybody go through what Oscar’s going to go through because there’s really nothing to go through,” Huggins said Monday morning. “They’re not going to have a combine, they’re not bringing people in which was the two major things that the NBA wanted to do in the past…see people in real-time.”
Huggins said without a combine or the chance to see players in-person, all college players will be able to get from their NBA evaluation is where they might be drafted at. In the past, the main thing a player got from entering their name into the draft was the chance to be evaluated by NBA scouts at the combine, according to Huggins.
“The reality is, what everybody’s having a hard time grasping is, there really is going to be no exploratory.”
With such limited contact between the players and NBA team, Huggins said teams will absolutely play it more safe in this year’s draft and not take players they have questions about. That could really hurt the draft prospects of someone like Tshiebwe, who has only played one season of college basketball and only played in the U.S. for a couple of years before that.
While entering his name in the draft, Tshiebwe retains his college eligibility and could still return to play at WVU next season. Despite this, Huggins said he has had players who have made the wrong decisions about turning pro and really hurt their prospects moving forward. However, Huggins is not worried about his star big man. Huggins said it is his job to take care of his players and make sure they make the best decisions for themselves.
“Oscar’s going to listen to us,” Huggins said. “Oscar trusts us and we’re not going to lead him down the wrong path.”
Huggins said players can get people in their ears that do not want to help the player, only themselves and the circumstances surrounding this draft could make that worse.
“We’re talking about the draft not being until August and (NBA teams) can have really no contact with these guys until the draft. I think the biggest thing it does is it opens it up to any wannabe agent, runner, whatever to try and track guys down.”
Huggins said he is not concerned even if Tshiebwe decides to turn pro and leave WVU.
“I fully expect we’re not going to have to worry about that,” Huggins said. “We’re going to have guys, I’m not worried about any of that.”
Right now, Tshiebwe is WVU’s only underclassman to enter his name into the draft, although fellow big man Derek Culver has also been talked about as a draft prospect. However, Huggins said he has no indication that Culver would do that right now.
In the end, Huggins said he trusts his players to carefully think through whatever decisions they may make.
“I feel very confident that Oscar will make an intelligent decision,” Huggins said. “As will Derek, if that’s the case with Derek. I haven’t heard anything that would indicate Derek has any interest (in entering the draft) whatsoever.”