Marcus Smart still could declare for NBA Draft if he wants

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Marcus Smart said he’s returning to Oklahoma State, and the NCAA’s early entry deadline has passed.

But, contrary to popular belief, the potential No. 1 overall pick can still declare for the 2013 NBA Draft. There’s even a rumor he’s considering it.

The NCAA moved up its deadline to withdraw from the NBA Draft to the first day of the spring signing period, which was April 16 this year. However, the NBA deadline to enter the draft is April 28.

The punishment for breaking the NCAA’s rule is losing college eligibility, which for a player entering the NBA Draft, doesn’t matter anyway. The NCAA is only limiting how much time players have to assess their options and make an informed decision. As usual, the athletes lose at the expense of the coaches and administrators, who don’t want to face the difficulty of replacing their NBA-worthy stars.

I’m surprised more players don’t let the NCAA deadline pass while remaining in school and the deciding later, and more power to Smart if that’s what he did, whether or not he truly believed he’d pass on this draft.

Maybe he shouldn’t have participated in a news conference to explain why he was staying at Oklahoma State one more year, but that’s the bind the NCAA puts players in. If Smart wants to declare for the NBA Draft this year, he should. Neither a meaningless deadline nor a forced news conference should stop him.