With the recent changes to the rules surrounding the NBA Draft and players coming out of college, there could be a slew of players who declare for the draft following the 2015-16 season. Barring they do not sign with an agent, they are able to test the waters and see where they are projected to be selected before finalizing their decision.
Some will stay in the draft, while others may opt to return to school in an attempt to improve their draft stock.
On Monday, Makai Mason of the Yale Bulldogs threw his name into the hat for the 2016 NBA Draft, in an unusual move for an underclassmen from an Ivy League school. The news was first reported on SI Now.
Very rarely do you see a player from an Ivy League school declare early, but with the recent changes to the rules, Mason decided to dabble in the draft to see where he is projected to go.
Mason’s father broke the news to Sports Illustrated, stating that Makai “wants to show people beyond the Ivy League what he is capable of.”
With the new rules, Mason can see where he projected to be selected, if at all, and then subsequently choose to return to school or stay in the draft and forego the remaining years of his NCAA eligibility.
It’s hard to blame Mason for declaring early, as he put together strong performances in the NCAA Tournament and is capitalizing on the attention he gained in doing so. He helped lead the Bulldogs to an upset win over the Baylor Bears in the Round of 64, and was a key piece in Yale’s comeback efforts against the Duke Blue Devils in the Round of 32.
Against Baylor, he recorded 31 points, 6 rebounds and 4 assists in Yale’s 79-75 victory. Two days later, he recorded 8 points, 4 rebounds, and 7 assists in their 71-64 loss to Duke.
After his breakout performance against the Bears, Duke locked down Mason, and he was unable to find his groove. However, he caught the attention of basketball fans everywhere, and is looking to capitalize on his recent success.
On the season, the 6’0” sophomore guard averaged a team-best 16.0 points and 3.8 assists per game to go along with 2.8 rebounds per contest. He vastly improved from his freshman season, and will only continue to grow as a player.
Don’t be surprised to see Mason return to school for his junior season. He will look and see where he is projected to go, but with the 2016 NBA Draft expected to be deep, Mason looks like a late second-round selection at best.
Having Makai Mason return will be a big boost for the Yale Bulldogs, who lose both Justin Sears and Brandon Sherrod to graduation.