With the recent changes to the NBA Draft process for underclassmen in the NCAA, the number of players who declared early for the draft increased this season in comparison to past years.
In the past, players had to make a final decision on whether or not to stay in the NBA Draft before the combine. This year, players could declare for the draft, not sign with an agent, and go through the pre-draft process (combine, individual team workouts, etc.). This allowed for players to see where they were projected to be selected, if at all, and gain feedback from executives and scouts from around the NBA.
The deadline for a final decision this year is May 25th.
Several talented mid-major players opted to go through the process, but many were expected to return to school for the 2016-17 season. It doesn’t hurt to get the extra feedback, and going through the process can help spread the word about your talents.
One player who took that route was Bakari Copeland. After a strong 2015-16 season, he opted to declare early for the NBA Draft. While many expected him to return to school, it wasn’t until Friday afternoon that he made his final decision.
Copeland will be returning to the Maryland-Eastern Shore Hawks for his senior year in 2016-17.
2015-16 was Copeland’s first year with the Hawks, and he quickly asserted himself as one of the MEAC’s top players. Before coming to Maryland-Eastern Shore, Copeland played one season with the Charleston Southern Buccaneers (2013-14), and one at Kilgore C.C. (2014-15).
Last season, he averaged 10.5 points per contest, good for the third-best mark on the team. Copeland also chipped in with 4.6 rebounds and 1.4 assists per contest while averaging just over 25 minutes of court time.
After going through the pre-draft process, Copeland felt that it was best to return to school for the 2016-17 season, and his decision could bode extremely well for both himself and the Hawks.
Both Devin Martin and Dominique Elliott, the team’s top two scorers from a year ago, have graduated, meaning Copeland will be looked upon to take on a bigger role this season. That means he will likely be a mainstay in the starting five on a nightly basis, and he will have a plethora of opportunities to lead the Hawks throughout the year.
The 6-6, 235-pound guard from Decatur, GA has the skill set to become an impact player for Maryland-Eastern Shore this season. After going through the pre-draft process, you can bet that there will be a few more eyes on the Hawks this season.
Relive some of the highlights from the 2015-16 season for Bakari Copeland here: