A day after the news of Eric Konkol’s departure to Tulsa, Louisiana Tech forward Kenneth Lofton, Jr., announced via social media that he was “declaring” for the NBA Draft.
Those words have a different meaning these days as opposed to a few years ago.
In his tweet on Tuesday, Lofton stated: “Bulldog Family – First and foremost, I want to thank God for blessing me and giving me the opportunity to wake up every day and play the game I love. For the past two years, the Bulldog has been amazing! Your unwavering love and support has earned a special place in my heart. …
“With that said, I am declaring for the 2022 NBA Draft while maintaining my collegiate eligibility. This is a great opportunity for me to gather valued feedback from NBA Teams.”
At one time, if a collegiate player declared for the NBA Draft, there was no going back. Once they hired an agent, their collegiate eligibility disappeared. Many times players get bad advice, took the leap of faith, and found themselves without an opportunity following the NBA Draft.
Ruston residents may remember Scottie Thurmon, who left Arkansas a year early and wasn’t drafted. He lost his final year of eligibility with the Razorbacks due to bad advice. He didn’t have the opportunity that is allowed to current student-athletes today.
Why? In recent years, the NCAA in all its wisdom actually did something right. It changed the rule allowing collegiate players an opportunity to “request NBA undergraduate advisory committee evaluation.”
Requesting an evaluation does not automatically enter a student-athlete in the NBA Draft, nor do NBA rules require a student-athlete to apply for feedback to enter the draft (separate paperwork is required to declare for the NBA Draft).
A player such as Lofton can also hire an agent through the evaluation process and yet maintain eligibility with the NCAA (although the agent must be certified by the NCAA). There are a number of other parameters involved in this process, but as long as the student athlete abides by them, he maintains his eligibility.
Once the student-athlete completes his evaluation process, he has until June 1 (at 11:59 pm ET) to remove his name from the NBA Draft and still maintain his collegiate eligibility. The student-athlete must declare in writing to his AD (in Lofton’s case, Dr. Eric Wood) that he plans to return.
Lofton, who just completed his second year with the Bulldogs, will get an opportunity to get valuable feedback from NBA executives, coaches and scouts that will help him make the best decision for his future.
After averaging 16.5 points and 10.5 rebounds per game and earning first team all-Conference USA honors, Lofton is testing the NBA waters.
However, unlike yesteryear, he has a life vest that will save his collegiate eligibility.