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NBA Draft Deadline: Who's In and Who's Out?

Nick Whalen

RotoWire's NBA Editor and award winning host of the RotoWire NBA Podcast. Many years ago, Stromile Swift gave Nick his unbelievably sweaty headband after a preseason game. Despite its failure to match his school colors, Nick went on to wear that headband for the entirety of his sixth grade basketball season. Catch Nick on Twitter @wha1en.

The deadline to officially declare or withdraw from the 2017 NBA Draft is nearly upon us.

Prospects have until 11:59 PM ET Wednesday to make a decision, marking the second year of the updated process that enables players more time to test the waters before making a final call.

While most of the notable names have already stated their intentions, a few prospects are taking the decision down to the wire. This story will be updated periodically leading up to the deadline.

STAYING IN DRAFT


Frank Jackson, G, Duke

The freshman made up his mind nearly two weeks ago when he announced he’d signed with an agent after Day 1 of the Draft Combine. That seemed like the probable outcome all along, but Jackson’s performance in Chicago -- most notably throwing up a 42” max vertical -- ultimately sealed the decision.

It’s unclear if Jackson -- who recently underwent foot surgery that will sideline him into July -- received the first-round guarantee most prospects in his position seek, but he’ll be a mid-second-round pick, at worst. A strong sophomore season could have propelled him into the first round next June, but with Grayson Allen back and a top-three recruiting class -- headlined by blue chip guards Trevon Duval and Gary Trent, Jr. -- on its way to Durham, Jackson’s path to a lead role wasn’t all that clear.

Tony Bradley, F/C, North Carolina

Bradley took his decision down to the wire before announcing Wednesday morning that he’ll become North Carolina’s first one-and-done in a decade (shoutout Brandan Wright). The rumor is Bradley secured a guarantee at the end of Round 1, and if that’s indeed the case, the decision to leave makes sense.

While Bradley could have conceivably played his way into the 2018 lottery conversation, he’s not a prospect with an extremely high ceiling, and next year’s draft already projects to be more frontcourt-heavy. Don’t expect Bradley to be a rotation player as a rookie, but his size and advanced fundamentals for his age should make him an attractive asset in the long term.

Johnathan Motley, F, Baylor

All along, Motley was expected to enter the draft, but he waited until after the Draft Combine to officially sign with an agent. While the junior did not actually participate in any Combine drills as he continues to recover from an MCL injury, he measured in at nearly 6’9” in shoes with an impressive 7’4” wingspan. Most projections place Motley right on the edge of the first round, but it’s tough to imagine his stock rising much higher after averaging 17.2 points, 9.9 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 1.1 blocks last season.

Eric Mika, F, BYU

After struggling at the Combine and posting unimpressive measurables, Mika’s decision to hire an agent shortly after the event was a bit of a head-scratcher. That said, as a 22-year-old sophomore -- Mika spent two years on an LDS mission -- there’s not much he’d be able to do in the next two years to improve his stock. At this point, Mika probably won’t be drafted, so he’ll likely eye a career playing overseas.

Losing last season’s leading scorer is obviously a major blow for BYU, but the Cougars return plenty of talent, headlined by explosive guards TJ Haws and Nick Emery.

D.J. Wilson, F, Michigan

Wilson told reporters at the Combine that he’d only stay in the draft if he received a first-round guarantee, so it appears he was able to secure one sometime in the last week-and-a-half. Widely considered a borderline-first-rounder, the sophomore is coming off of a breakout junior campaign, during which he averaged 11.0 points and 5.3 rebounds after barely seeing the floor as a sophomore. Wilson was especially impressive down the stretch, piling up 26 points in a Big Ten Tournament win over Purdue and scoring in double-figures in six of the Wolverines’ final seven games. A leg injury prevented Wilson from participating in drills at the Combine, but he still walked away a winner after measuring in at 6’10.5” in shoes with an impressive 7’3” wingspan.

UPDATE - 6:05 PM ET:
Caleb Swanigan, F, Purdue
Swanigan found himself in virtually this same position last year. Most projections have him teetering on the edge of the first round, despite putting together one of the best sophomore campaigns in Big Ten history. From a pure production standpoint, Swanigan is almost unmatched in this draft, but how his game will translate to the faster-paced NBA is a serious question mark. While Swanigan is an efficient inside-out scorer and good passer, he doesn’t have great foot speed or leaping ability, and he’s battled weight issues in the past. By all accounts, Swanigan has put in the work to transform his body over the last two years, but teams still have concerns about where he’ll fit defensively at the next level.

RETURNING TO SCHOOL


Deng Adel, G, Louisville

Adel officially announced his return Tuesday, essentially locking Louisville in as a preseason top-10 team. The loss of projected first-round pick Donovan Mitchell will hurt, but Rick Pitino intends to slide Adel into the lead guard role vacated by Mitchell, and Adel, who was not invited to the Combine but worked out for several teams, hopes it will result in a similar rise up draft boards. Physically, Adel -- 6’7” with a 6’10” wingspan -- might be a better prospect than his former teammate, but he’ll need to demonstrate more polish as a playmaker and tangible improvement as a three-point shooter in order to approach first-round status in 2018.

Rawle Alkins, G, Arizona

Alkins had a chance to hear his name called late in Round 2, but returning to Arizona was ultimately the best decision for the rising sophomore. He was impressive as a freshman -- 10.9pts, 4.9reb, 2.1ast, 47% 3PT -- but his jumpshot is still a bit shaky, and it’s unclear where, exactly, he’ll fit in the NBA. While Alkins has the strength and athleticism (40.5” max vertical) to defend both guard spots, he doesn’t profile as a typical NBA point guard. Ultimately, Alkins could end up as a playmaking swing guard in the mold of a Marcus Smart/Lance Stephenson type.

Trevon Bluiett, G/F, Xavier

As expected, Bluiett announced Tuesday that he’ll return to Xavier for his senior season. A likely preseason All-American, Bluiett is one of the best pure scorers in college basketball and has improved his scoring average in each of his three seasons. Bluiett led undermanned Xavier to the Elite Eight as a junior, averaging 21.3 points in four NCAA Tournament games.

As an upperclassman with unremarkable measurements -- 6’5” with a 6’6.5” wingspan -- Bluiett will only be able to improve his stock so much next season, but another high-scoring campaign could solidify his place in the second round. As as prospect, Bluiett reminds me of Jodie Meeks, who went 41st overall to Milwaukee in 2009 after averaging 23.7 points per game in his final year at Kentucky.

Tacko Fall, C, Central Florida

Fall’s NBA case continues to be a complicated one. On one hand, he’s 7’6” with a rumored wingspan of more than eight feet. On the other, he struggles to move laterally and lacks the all-around strength to maximize his rare stature. As a sophomore, Fall averaged just 10.9 points per game, but he converted 72 percent of his field goal attempts and was named the AAC’s Defensive Player of the Year.

Fall’s height alone is intriguing enough that he’ll eventually get his shot in the NBA, but there’s a good chance he would have gone undrafted in 2017. The glaring concern is that his rim-protecting will essentially be neutralized in the NBA, as the pro game continues to pivot toward smaller, more-dynamic lineups. Asking Fall to step out and guard Anthony Davis or Karl Anthony Towns on the perimeter would be a death sentence.

Justin Jackson, F, Maryland

Jackson’s combination of size, length and outside shooting intrigued scouts enough to earn him an invite to the Combine, but with the draft less than a month away, Jackson remained a mid-second-round pick, at best. The freshman averaged 10.5 points and 6.0 rebounds while shooting 44 percent from three last season and showed off a 7’3.25” wingspan at the Combine. The Ontario native has the tools to defend up to four positions in the NBA, and he could work his way into the end of the first round in 2018 if he’s able to demonstrate more consistency as a scorer.

Andrew Jones, G, Texas

Jones announced Monday that he’ll return for his sophomore season after failing to receive better than a late-second-round grade. He’ll be the Longhorns’ top returning scorer next season, leading a young roster that's suddenly much more intriguing following the commitment of Mo Bamba, the No. 3 overall recruit in the class of 2017.

Markis McDuffie, F, Wichita State

While the rising junior waited until earlier this week to announce his decision, it was a foregone conclusion that he’d be back at Wichita State. McDuffie was not invited to the Combine, but he worked out for several teams and said he received mostly positive feedback. At 6’8” with long arms and above-average athleticism, McDuffie profiles as a defender first at the next level, but he’s a decent three-point shooter (35% 3PT last season) who rebounds his position. The New Jersey native has some Will Barton in his game but will need to add strength and improve his ball-handling to move into second-round consideration in 2018.

Thomas Welsh, C, UCLA

Not much to say here. Welsh is a very good college big man with a reliable mid-range jumper, but he’s an average-at-best athlete with unremarkable length and quickness. If he’s able to extend his shooting range -- Welsh has attempted one three-pointer in three seasons -- he becomes a bit more interesting. However, even a strong senior season might not be enough to lock Welsh into the second round next June.

Omer Yurtseven, F/C, North Carolina State


A probable late-second-rounder, Yurtseven will return for his sophomore season after averaging 5.9 points and 4.4 rebounds in 18.9 minutes per game in 2016-17. As the numbers indicate, Yurtseven’s appeal is more about potential than production at this point. Still just 18 years old, Yurtseven measured in at just under seven feet (in shoes) at the Combine, though he didn’t turn heads during athletic testing and failed to stand out during 5-on-5 play. If he returns a more confident offensive player next season, Yurtseven, who has been on NBA radars for several years, could very well be a two-and-done player.

Moritz Wagner, F, Michigan

Wednesday’s deadline brought good news and bad news to the Wolverines. The good news came first, in the form of Wagner announcing via his personal Twitter account that he’ll return to Ann Arbor for his junior season.

The German big man opted to test the waters after a strong close to the season, but he was among the biggest disappointments at the Combine and was likely to go undrafted had he kept his name in. If Wagner can put together a strong junior season -- most importantly, if he can shoot close to 40 percent from three again -- he’ll be faced with a tougher decision this time next May.


UPDATE - 7:59 PM ET:
Svi Mykhailiuk, G, Kansas

As expected following a lackluster Combine showing, Mykhailiuk will return to Lawrence for his senior season. A starter for most of the year on one of the best teams in the nation, the native of Ukraine averaged 9.8 points, 3.0 rebounds and 1.9 steals per game and shot nearly 39 percent from beyond the arc. However, Mykhailiuk struggles defensively and is a below-average athlete by NBA standards, so whether he’ll be able to defend at the next level is a major question mark. That said, at 6’8” he has excellent size, so he’ll remain on NBA radars as a potential second-rounder in 2018.

UPDATE - 11:49 PM ET:
Hamidou Diallo, G, Kentucky


In a decision that truly went down to the wire, Diallo opted against becoming the first “none-and-done” to declare for the draft. The five-star class of 2017 recruit will return to the Wildcats for his “freshman” season in the fall -- Diallo graduated high school early and practiced with Kentucky for half of last season -- joining what could arguably be John Calipari’s most talented roster to date. Kentucky will depend almost entirely on freshmen and sophomores, but with Diallo in the fold, Calipari will have eight former five-star recruits and 11 former top-100 recruits at his disposal.

Given how long Diallo waited, the decision obviously was not an easy one. Per Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical, several teams in the 20-30 range were interested in Diallo, but he failed to gain whatever guarantee he and his camp were looking for. Considering the level of hype he’s generated without playing a minute of college basketball, even a decent freshman campaign could vault Diallo into the lottery conversation next June.