With the success of the GW men’s basketball team comes recognition, and for fans, it may bring anxiety about players jumping ship early to go professional. Those fears were realized last week: Junior Danilo (J.R.) Pinnock told The Hatchet Thursday afternoon that he will declare for the NBA draft taking place in June.
Pinnock will file paperwork with the NBA that will make him eligible to participate in workouts with teams and play in the NBA-sponsored pre-draft camp in Orlando, Fla., from June 6-10.
The Georgia native said he will not hire an agent and intends to return to GW for his senior year. By hiring an agent, Pinnock would forfeit his remaining year of collegiate eligibility.
“I am a Colonial,” Pinnock said last Thursday. “I’m going to test the waters and see what happens but I intend to be back in the fall.”
GW head men’s basketball coach Karl Hobbs said he supports Pinnock’s decision to enter the draft and added that NBA scouts have told him positive things about Pinnock’s play. Pinnock would be the marquee player on next year’s team should he choose to return for his senior year.
In light of draft impropriety leveled against senior Pops Mensah-Bonsu at the beginning of this season, Pinnock said he plans be overly cautious with following the rules that would allow him to return to GW next season. Mensah-Bonsu sat out the first three games of the regular season for violating unspecified NCAA rules.
The deadline for withdrawing from the draft and retaining eligibility is June 18, 10 days before the NBA draft in New York.
Last season, Mensah-Bonsu and classmate Mike Hall entered the draft, but only Mensah-Bonsu was invited to the pre-draft camp, traditionally held at the Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. The pre-draft camp is invitation-only.
The draft camp provides an opportunity for players to showcase their game in front of scouts from every team.
In the four days of the camp, players participate in drills that highlight the technical aspects of their games in the morning session. During the afternoons, players compete on pre-determined teams in full-court games.
The camp is an important opportunity for players looking toward the NBA, but it does not go off without controversy. Hobbs believes there are institutional failures with the event. A player could potentially lose their eligibility if they take money from agents or teams to fund any facet of attending the camp or working out for a team.
“Either let them do it or don’t,” Hobbs said earlier this year. “Don’t tell them ‘hey you can go do this’ but not let them take any money.”
The NCAA may propose legislation to correct the process, GW Director of Athletics Jack Kvancz said earlier this year.