By Kevin Sweeney
With the NBA Draft Combine complete, student-athletes now have until May 25 to decide whether or not to return to school. This year’s new rules have allowed players to get a better sense of their draft stock before committing to the Draft, and now players who have worked out with teams and met with front office executives can make an informed decision. Here are my takes on whether players should stay in school or chase their NBA futures:
Melo Trimble (Maryland)- Return to School
Trimble entered the season as a potential lottery pick, but the 2015-16 season did not go as planned. Trimble struggled with his shot and didn’t develop into the Wooden Award candidate that many thought he would be. Combine that with below-average measurables at the Combine, and Trimble is left squarely on the fence as to whether to stay in the draft. I think Trimble needs to return to school to improve his stock. He has fallen out of first round consideration, and ESPN’s Jeff Goodman reported this weekend that NBA scouts were nearly unanimous in their belief that Trimble should return to school. With the loss of all 4 other starters, Trimble would have a chance to prove that he is capable of being the lead dog for an excellent team.
Ben Bentil (Providence)- Stay in Draft
Bentil has truly come out of nowhere. He had a breakout season at Providence in a complimentary role to star point guard Kris Dunn, but the draft process has helped him prove that he is a great player in his own right. He projects as a great fit in the modern NBA offense as a stretch four, a position in which Bentil can use his shooting touch and athleticism to be a very effective player. He now looks to receive first round consideration, as contenders will likely be interested in Bentil as a player who can contribute right away.
Alec Peters (Valparaiso)-Return to School
While Peters doesn’t have much left to prove at the college level, I still believe that he would be best suited to return for his senior season at Valparaiso. A season at school would help him improve his handle and athleticism, allowing him to take the next step smoothly. He possesses a unique skillset for his 6’9″ frame due to his ability to shoot from downtown, and could improve his stock by proving himself as a capable option at the small forward and power forward positions. I think it would be better for Peters to work on these things while still in college, rather than in the D-League or Europe.
Caleb Swanigan (Purdue)- Return to School
Swanigan is the classic example of a raw talent. He is extremely athletic, and has a pro-ready body. However, Swanigan is certainly not without flaws. He has no handle, lacks shooting touch, and is what many would call a tweener. In order for him to have any chance of being a first round pick, he must return to school and add to skill and finesse to his game. In the NBA, Swanigan won’t be able to bully defenders the way he did in college. As Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress said, “Unless he has his heart set on playing for his hometown Fort Wayne Mad Ants next year, returning to Purdue is certainly his best bet.
Jaron Blossomgame (Clemson)- Stay in Draft
Blossomgame is another player who enters the draft process with lots of momentum. After being the most improved player in the ACC this season, Blossomgame shined at the Combine this weekend. He had the 3rd-heighest vertical jump, and had one of the heighest player efficiency ratings of all players who participated in the scrimmages. While it would be nice to see another year of Blossomgame at Clemson, I think it would be best for him to take his talents to the NBA.