by John FantaFollow @John_Fanta
Villanova sophomore wing Saddiq Bey confirmed on Tuesday what has been assumed: the Wildcats’ leading scorer will enter the NBA Draft process. As to what that process entails during these unprecedented times, Jay Wright alluded to the draft potentially getting pushed back to August or September, but that it’s an ongoing process with how much up in the air.
Bey and Wright met with the media on Tuesday after Bey was announced as the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Julius Erving Award winner, given to the nation’s best small forward. Here are some key takeaways and quotes:
Like almost any event right now, the timeline of the NBA Draft is uncertain. At the moment, the timeline has the first entrant deadline as April 26. For those that could come back to school, those players have until June 15 to decide whether they are keeping their names in the draft or returning to school. While those dates are in place, Wright erred on the side that the draft process will get postponed due to COVD-19.
“The NCAA can’t do anything until the NBA does,” said Wright. “Once the NCAA sees what the NBA is going to do, and knowing the feeling of the NCAA, I think the NCAA will be lenient to try to give these guys as much time as possible.”
Wright said it’s a fluid situation and that there are no guarantees to anything, but that he’s been telling Bey as well as Villanova freshman Jeremiah Robinson-Earl – who plans to enter the draft process – that “you probably aren’t going to have to make a decision until July or August.” A timeline like that could leave rosters in a big level of uncertainty. Combine that with the potential for transfers to be immediately eligible if the rule changes passes from the NCAA, and this offseason could be unprecedented with drama.
Bey said the process of staying in shape and being ready for an NBA Draft process has led to him going about things “the old-fashioned way.” The 6-foot-8 wing, who is home in Largo, Maryland right now, has done everything from run around his house to find some activities inside his home. He’s tried to find a court that may be available, but it’s been a challenge with the state on lockdown.
“I will definitely be trying to test the waters,” said Bey. “We just have to wait and see how it unfolds. It’s unchartered territory.”
Bey said the way this season ended was very hard to go through, and said it would be one of many factors in thinking about his future.
“It was heartbreaking, ending how it did,” said Bey of the season stopping during Championship Week due to COVD-19. “All of those factors play a part, because there’s something about the college experience too. It’s really, whatever is best for me and my family.”
“He’s multidimensional as a player,” said Wright of Bey. “He can guard different positions. He’s an undervalued defender.”
What’s ahead for Villanova? Wright said that highly-recruited freshman Bryan Antoine could have been redshirted before the season. Antoine suffered a shoulder injury and his season debut was delayed to Nov. 21. He only ended up playing in 16 games. There was speculation about Antoine’s future with the program, but Wright said the plan is for Antoine to be a main contributor next season. It will be interesting to see if the five-star prospect out of the Ranney School in New Jersey can turn a corner heading into year two. What’s challenging is, he won’t have a normal offseason due to these circumstances.
Wright raved about 6-foot-8 redshirt freshman Eric Dixon, who sat out this year and was a staple at the Finneran Pavilion working out before games. Dixon, from my vantage point, was very impressive to watch before games this past season. Wright had high praise.
“Eric Dixon, we love this dude. Man, he’s a good basketball player. I think he’s going to help us next year. He really had a beneficial redshirt year. He is a low post player like we haven’t had.”
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