As expected, Arkansas junior guards Jaylen Barford and Daryl Macon are declaring for the NBA Draft but will not hire agents yet, the school announced Friday.
Both players will be able to go through NBA predraft workouts and participate in the NBA Draft Combine if invited. They have until about May 24th to decide if they will stay in the draft or return to Arkansas for their senior seasons.
This is the same process Moses Kingsley went through last year, and obviously he came back to school. It remains to be seen what Barford and Macon will do. While neither are currently expected to be drafted this year, they would have options to play overseas if they want to. Many tend to look down on that option, but it can be quite lucrative for players and a chance to travel the world. It’s hardly the D-League experience.
Barford had indicated after the season ended that he intended to return but Macon was never committal. In this era of college basketball, any good player seems likely to test the pro waters after a good season. Macon averaged 13.4 points per game last season and Barford averaged 12.8 with 3.8 rebounds per game.
For Razorback fans, the expectations for next season largely ride on their decisions. After splitting scoring opportunities with Kingsley and Dusty Hannahs last season, both Barford and Macon would likely be starters and expected to carry the scoring load. Without them, Arkansas won’t have any reliable scorers on the team. Anton Beard would be the highest returning scorer. The Razorbacks currently have three high school players signed to play next year and have one opening. If both leave the Hogs will have three openings.
My general feeling about these situations is that if a player is not a lock for the NBA or in fairly desperate need for money, a player is best served by completing their degree if that’s possible. At the same time, it’s hard to blame anybody for taking an opportunity to play basketball for a significant amount of money as opposed to playing for no money. Those skills and opportunities are limited.
This is why it’s imperative to recruit quality players each year. In college basketball, you can’t expect to keep good players for long and build around them. Arkansas’ three signees are considered to be a quality class, led by top 50 big man Daniel Gafford, but they probably shouldn’t be expected to come in and be as good as Barford and Macon right away.
So for now we’ll all keep waiting, most likely for a few more weeks.