After what could best be penned a disappointing junior season, many assumed that Nigel Hayes would promptly return to Madison for his senior season. When he announced that he would test the draft waters, it widely became assumed he was taking advantage of the NCAA’s new rules. These rules state that you can go to the combine and work out for each team once, as long as you do not hire a new agent. Seems pretty clear cut right? Nigel would in theory get the opportunity to talk to general managers across the league and see where his draft stock lies.

This becomes a bit of a problem as a result of the number of people who declared, you cannot give a guy second round feedback if you have 70 guys ranked in front of him. There is a still a sizable chance that 30 of those don’t want to risk getting a non-guaranteed second round deal and would rather return. It has long been held belief that if you get late second round feedback you return to school, in most cases that is. There is always the exception who needs to earn money for his family. This does not appear to be Nigel, since he returned to school last year when he could have gone pro.

So where does Nigel Hayes fit into this?

As a sophomore Hayes started to pop onto NBA radars when he shot 49.7% from the field and 39.6% from three showcasing a stroke that well a bit messy had promise. He decided to return to make himself a surefire first-rounder and show that he could do the same without two future NBA players flanking him. As a junior he shot 36.8% from the field and 29.3% from three, raising a lot of red flags about his potential. Standing at 6’8″ Nigel Hayes fits the profile as an NBA small forward, but without a three point shot and no stand out athleticism his NBA future looks a lot more murky than it did a year ago. After all age drives upside, teams are much less willing to draft Seniors high in the first round, in the first half of last year’s NBA draft there were two upperclassmen taken, Willie Cauley-Stein and Frank Kaminsky.

So it seems like Hayes would be a lock to return right?

Nigel will face a difficult decision either way with lots of money on the line- Photo via thebiglead.com
Nigel will face a difficult decision either way with lots of money on the line- Photo via thebiglead.com

Under the old system Hayes would be a lock to return, however under the new system foreign executives can now recruit NCAA players with lucrative deals. Hayes is small for an NBA power forward, and unathletic by NBA standards, but by European standards he grades much better in both categories. In the 2012-13 basketball season there were over 40 players making more than 3 million dollars playing basketball outside the NBA. Most of whom were fringe NBA guys, which is the category Nigel falls into, well he might not be lock at 3,000,000+ he could be in line for a 7 digit offer.

The decision then becomes go back to school for free (scholarship valued around 50,000) or make a cool million and start a professional career in a new country. Money is not everything, but it is interesting to consider that under this new system NCAA athletes will hear pitches from Euroleague executives. Previously guys like Nigel would not have declared as eligbility was tougher to maintain, but now since he has the ability to meet with teams he gets to truly see his options. He already has a few NBA workouts scheduled and maybe one team will say that he would get strong consideration in the second round.

If I had to bet I would bet he returns for his Senior year, but under this new system we will see a few shocking choices that we might not have seen previously. It will be interesting to see where everyone lands on the May 25th deadline.

 

 

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