With so much uncertainty surrounding the NBA Draft due to the coronavirus pandemic, John Calipari believes players should have more time to decide whether to stay in the draft or return to school. On a video conference this morning, Calipari called for the NBA to push back the Early Entry Eligibility Withdrawal Deadline, which is currently June 15, if they postpone the Combine and Draft as expected.
“Guys that have a decision to make, whether they want to stay in the draft or not, the NBA is saying, ‘We’re keeping our date the same.’ Okay, what about the combine? ‘That is going to move, we believe.’ Well, what about the draft date? ‘The draft date will move.’ Okay, what about bringing them to your facilities? ‘We don’t know when that will happen or if it will happen.’ My point to that and trying to get information to the NABC is, shouldn’t we move the decision date back for the kids to go to college or not? The date was always based on when the draft is, when the combine is. That is all moving. We should have more time making that decision.”
Calipari pointed out that since gyms and fitness centers across the country are shutdown to stop the spread of the virus, his players aren’t able to train as they normally would for tryouts and the combine.
“My worry is, these guys, they’re working out right now. If they spend two months and don’t do anything, then try to go work out for an NBA team? It isn’t going to work for them. So, there are no gyms, no health clubs. Unless they have a gym in their house – none of them do. Unless they have a health area, workout area within their home – none of them do. How are we doing this? So, my worry is more about that.”
Calipari is advising his players to come up with creative ways to keep up with conditioning and strength work.
“I’m telling them, you better be conditioning in some way because your body is your castle and your career is going to dictated on how you take care of your body. Messing around with a basketball to make sure you keep your feel? It will be like riding a bike, the rest of it. But what I would be saying, even if you’re in the house, sit ups, pushups, running in place. Doing anything. Getting out in the street and doing conditioning stuff. Staying six feet from everybody.”
“The minute you walk in the door, wash your hands…If you walk in from outside the house, take those clothes off and throw them in the washer, throw new clothes on after you shower. Trying to stay healthy, you don’t want to get sick. But these kids have a genius. Their genius is basketball. And the only way they’re going to be able to master their craft is if they can figure out a way of staying in shape.”
Calipari said he expects four to five players to declare for the draft, and he and his staff are currently working to gather feedback from the NBA to give them to help with their decisions.
“My guess is four to five guys would probably test the waters. They changed a rule that I wasn’t on top of that you can now declare for the draft every year you’re in college and if you choose to go back, it doesn’t hurt your eligibility. It used to be, after the second time, you had to stay in the draft. Now, you can do it every time, so I don’t know how many will test the waters. We haven’t gotten to that point and talked to them. My guess is four to five of them will.”
“We’re getting information to the kids. I have not done a group call, mainly because I have more questions than I have answers for them right now. So, most of the stuff I’m doing is texting to stay in touch.”