The Chet Holmgren vs. Paolo Banchero vs. Jabari Smith debate as to who will be the first player taken in tomorrow’s NBA Draft has been the talk of the entire season (and offseason). Three one-and-dones from great schools representing the way it’s been done for decades, two of them not yet 20 years old. You get the single college year under your belt and you’re off to the pros. It’s the road more traveled, at least by successful NBA stars. But that’s all changing now under NIL.
Several college basketball players who, in previous years, would have been expected to declare for the draft and perhaps even score a first-round contract — they’re sticking around. There’s money to be made in college now, which means that there’s no huge rush to get out of there and start earning cash, even settling for development leagues with the small amount of guaranteed rookie contracts available.
Especially for top talents who might not quite be ready to compete at the highest level but are standouts in college, NIL has made a once-challenging decision a whole lot easier. Not only are you coming back to gain more experience, raise your draft stock, and maybe get a degree, you’re coming back for cold, hard cash — or, at least, the opportunity to earn it.
We took a look at some NCAA guys who were eligible and even a good fit for this year’s draft who decided to return for another year and a chance at the Big Dance.