Update: Isaac says he’ll go to Florida State, not the draft:
Satnam Singh, the Mavericks No. 52 pick in the 2015 draft, was the first player drafted directly from high school in a decade.
Another, much higher-profile, high schooler could follow his path.
The NBA’s “one-and-done” rule effectively prohibited anyone from jumping from high school to the NBA. Amir Johnson, whom the Pistons drafted No. 56 in 2005, was the last high school player drafted before the rule was implemented.
But Singh spent five years at IMG Academy in Florida and was eligible. Now, another IMG player wants to follow a similar path.
In a decision that could signal a new avenue to the NBA for elite American basketball players, Top 10 high school prospect Jonathan Isaac told Sports Illustrated on Friday that he will explore declaring for the 2016 NBA draft directly from prep school.
Isaac, a 6’10” small forward from IMG (Fla.) Academy, said in a phone interview that he expects to take advantage of a new rule that allows prospects to enter the NBA draft and return to college if they don’t feel good about their projected draft position. The new rule allows Isaac to participate in the NBA draft combine, hold an NBA workout and pull out of the draft without compromising his amateur standing at Florida State, where he’s signed to play next season.
Isaac, 18, and IMG officials expect that he’ll be eligible for the 2016 NBA draft because he started high school in 2011, which would make him one year removed from his initial graduating class. Isaac did not graduate from high school in 2015, but IMG officials expect he’d be eligible because former IMG player Satnam Singh had a similar circumstance and was eligible for the 2015 Draft.
Isaac is a potential first-rounder. The new rule doesn’t affect his ability to declare for the draft, but rather his ability to withdraw and play for Florida state IF he declares for the draft.
The bigger question: Can he declare for the draft?
The relevant requirement in the Collective Bargaining Agreement:
The player (A) is or will be at least nineteen (19) years of age during the calendar year in which the Draft is held, and (B) with respect to a player who is not an international player (defined below), at least one (1) NBA Season has elapsed since the player’s graduation from high school (or, if the player did not graduate from high school, since the graduation of the class with which the player would have graduated had he graduated from high school
Isaac turns 19 in October, so he’d meet the age requirement. He also hasn’t graduated high school, so he could claim his class graduated last year – four years after entering high school.
However, that argument works only if he doesn’t graduate this spring. If he does, that takes precedence over his class’s graduation, and he’d have to wait another year to declare for the draft.
As crazy as this sounds, Isaac will have more options for his professional future by NOT graduating high school.
This passage in the Collective Bargaining Agreement should probably be changed in the next edition.
It’s also difficult to tell how this situation compares with Singh. Although academics kept him from receiving college scholarships, Singh graduated from IMG, according to his father. Perhaps, Singh didn’t actually graduate. A quote from his dad isn’t a verified transcript.
No matter how Singh got to the draft, Isaac and those close to him at IMG should know the details of the path.
Now, it’s a question whether Isaac can and will follow.