Like many of his fellow former McDonald’s All-Americans, WVU forward Oscar Tshiebwe announced his decision to declare for the NBA Draft while retaining his eligibility for next year.
In the short span since prospects were afforded the opportunity to return, Bob Huggins has had plenty of experience with players testing the waters. It started with Jevon Carter, who declared after his first NABC Defensive Player of the Year season to return for one last run. Then after last season, Sagaba Konate took his shot at pro basketball after missing much of his junior year, signing with the Toronto Raptors as an undrafted free agent and spending his rookie year in the G League largely on the bench.
This year will be — and already has been — much different. With major scouting events like the NCAA Tournament canceled and uncertainty surrounding this year’s NBA Combine, Huggins says the feedback that Tshiebwe will receive may be drastically different than his previous players.
“[The NBA will] pull a group of general managers and they will come up with a hypothetical deal of where possibly, if they remained in the draft, they will get drafted,” Huggins said. “It has not anything to do with, they need to work on this or work on that, which is what they got from the combine.”
Without the scouting that is critical for prospects, Huggins notes that a player’s draft position is much more precarious. He says that while a prospect might receive a good draft evaluation, outside variables — including foreign players — could throw that off kilter.
“This whole thing, man, it’s uncharted waters, basically, and if you’re an NBA guy, you’re probably going to go with somebody who you’re sure about,” Huggins said. “And they’ve been watching those guys over in Europe for a long time, and they have brought a lot of productive people over here. So it’s not cut-and-dry.”
Outside variables can come from elsewhere other than the basketball world, Huggins added.
“The best thing is if those other people that are trying to make money from them would stay out of their business. That’s what would help,” Huggins said. “As you guys know, I’ve done this for 40 years, and you can’t find one of my guys that would ever say that I tried to make something from them. I’ve always tried to do what is in their best interest, I get paid by whatever university I’m working for to do my job and I think that’s very much a part of my job.”
Ultimately, the news of Tshiebwe’s decision doesn’t worry Huggins.
“Oscar is going to listen to us. Oscar trusts us,” he said. “And we’re not going to lead him down the wrong path.”