Kansas State expects to return its entire starting lineup next season, but there is no guarantee star players Barry Brown and Dean Wade will be back as seniors.
Both may choose to explore their NBA Draft options in the coming months.
“If they want to, that’s fine, to have that opportunity,” K-State basketball coach Bruce Weber said. “I have been talking to them. … We will talk about it, and if it’s a good thing, an experience to have the opportunity to see where you are at and it helps them in the long run, it is a good thing.”
More and more college basketball players are starting to test the professional waters before their college eligibility expires, as new rules allow NBA hopefuls to declare for the draft without hiring an agent as many times as they wish and return to school if they don’t hire an agent.
That’s what junior guard Kamau Stokes did last year.
He surprised many by declaring as an early entrant and didn’t receive much NBA attention, but he got some feedback from scouts and returned to school with no regrets.
Will Stokes test the NBA Draft waters again this year? Could Brown, Wade or even sophomore wing Xavier Sneed explore their options?
"I guess I'll meet with coach later on, and we'll talk to him about it," Wade said. "But right now I haven't really thought about it."
College players have until April 22 to decide whether they want to declare (with or without an agent) as an early entrant for the 2018 NBA Draft. The NBA Combine begins on May 16. Early entrants who don't hire an agent have until 5 p.m. on June 11 to withdraw from the draft process and return to college.
Wade appears to have the most NBA potential at the moment. A 6-foot-10 junior forward, he is coming off a tremendous season in which Big 12 coaches named him an all-conference first-teamer. He averaged 16.2 points and 6.2 rebounds.
Earlier this month, Wade’s father, Jay, said he was in favor of Wade declaring for the draft without hiring an agent, saying there was “no downside” in an interview for a feature story on Wade’s rise from the tiny town of St. John to college basketball star.
But that was before Wade suffered a stress reaction in his left foot and missed all but eight minutes of K-State’s run through the NCAA Tournament, which ended with a loss to Loyola-Chicago in the Elite Eight on Saturday. Weber said Wade may now need a month of rest to help his foot heal.
“I have been talking to Dean and his parents since last summer,” Weber said, “because I anticipated this.”
The website NBADraft.net doesn’t list Wade among its top 100 draft prospects for 2018.
Brown, a junior guard, averaged 15.9 points, 3.2 assists and 3.1 rebounds this season. NBADraft.net projects him as the No. 34 pick in its 2019 mock draft.
Earlier this week, Brown’s father said his son was committed to finishing what he started at K-State.
"He’s got another year of college,” he said. “So we just want to focus on him being the best basketball player he can be and have a very productive senior year with team success.”
Brown’s father has apparently said the same to Weber.
“His dad is a little old-school,” Weber said, “and said he’s not doing anything.”
Sneed, a 6-foot-5 sophomore, also turned heads late in the season when he helped K-State beat Kentucky by scoring 22 points and grabbing nine rebounds. He averaged 11.1 points and 5.1 rebounds this season.
At some point, he, too, may consider declaring early.
“I don’t know about this year, but in the future,” Weber said. “When we talk to NBA people, his name always comes up. His athleticism … he has just got to get better at some things.”