If you don’t understand the new rules regarding early entry into the NBA draft, don’t worry. You’re not alone.

In the wake of the scandal that rocked the college basketball world, the NCAA instituted new rules to help players figure out if they’re ready to take the next step.

In a memo dated March 13 sent to all Division I athletic directors, senior compliance administrators and head coaches, the NCAA spelled out the changes.

They're designed to help student-athletes who are considering “gauging their readiness for competition at the next level through a variety of methods, including tryouts with professional teams.”

The only problem is the new rules have caused more confusion than in previous years, when a player who hired an agent was immediately ineligible for further collegiate competition.

The biggest change is that underclassmen who apply to the NBA for early-entry draft status can hire an NCAA-certified agent and return to school if the player terminates the agent and withdraws from the draft by May 29.

But there’s more to it than that.

To provide some clarity to the process, Matt Jakoubek, an assistant athletic director for compliance at LSU, said the best thing to do is forget the old rules.

LSU already has had five players declare from the draft from the team that won 28 games and the Southeastern Conference regular-season title, and some fans are assuming each of them have departed the team for good.

That's not necessarily the case, Jakoubek said.

“The NCAA has really opened it up a little bit more, obviously, with the stuff that’s pending with the FBI (investigation),” he said.

“So, they're trying to give more leniency to student-athletes — and more flexibility — for them to basically test the waters and at least get some access to agents.”

The agents, who must be certified by the National Basketball Players Association, can arrange for individual workouts with NBA teams and even pay for travel, lodging and meals for early applicants and their family members.

Any other expense incurred during the process, like having the agent pay for a personal trainer or nutritionist, would render the player ineligible.

So far, junior Skylar Mays, sophomore Tremont Waters and freshmen Naz Reid, Javonte Smart and Emmitt Williams have declared for the draft.

Waters and Reid indicated they would hire agents, but Mays, Smart and Williams did not — which has caused some confusion among LSU fans.

The suspension of coach Will Wade has also muddied the waters; it’s possible some may have entered the draft to give themselves options if Wade doesn’t return.

But even if those players already have hired an agent or do so in the near future, they’re still eligible to return under the new rules, Jakoubek said.

The other part of the equation is if a player asked the NBA undergraduate advisory committee for an evaluation of their chances of being drafted.

Under the NCAA’s new rules, a player who doesn’t request an evaluation and puts his name in the draft automatically gives up his eligibility.

“That’s the first step: requesting an evaluation,” Jakoubek explained. “No matter what you do, you must be evaluated to retain your eligibility.”

LSU interim coach Tony Benford told The Advocate last week that Reid and Waters had not requested an evaluation.

Jakoubek confirmed Friday seven LSU players had taken that first step, for which the deadline was Thursday night, but declined to identify them.

“We’ve educated all the student-athletes on what they need to do in order to maintain their eligibility,” Jakoubek said. “We confirmed that with them and talked to their parents so that everybody is on the same page.”

Also, the coaching staff and compliance office must be kept in the loop at all times throughout this new process, he said.

Another big difference is that an unlimited number of players from each school can request an evaluation; in football, it’s limited to five per school.

“I’m sure the NBA is getting flooded with this, because most kids are curious about it,” Jakoubek said. “Most kids are doing it because there are no restrictions.”

The NBA is expected to announce the official list of early entrants on April 22, one day after the deadline to apply.

That’s when the waiting starts for LSU, much like it did when Waters put his name in last season.

He didn’t hire an agent, then took five visits to NBA teams who gave him valuable intel on what he needed to improve his game before informing Wade the day before the deadline to withdraw from the draft that he would be returning.

“We encourage them all to go through the process, so we’ll kind of see what happens,” Benford said last week. “I think it’s helpful to get the feedback.

"Hopefully, they’ll get invited to some team workouts and maybe the combine. That’s a great experience for them, so we’ll see how it all plays out.”

From the NCAA memo sent to all Division I institutions, here are the new components as well as previous ones to the NBA early entry rules:

Key points

The key points below highlight important NCAA rules related to maintaining NCAA eligibility while “testing the waters.” More detail on each rule is contained within this document.

A men's basketball student-athlete will lose his eligibility IF:

Nos. 1-6 below are NEW IN 2019!

1. He enters the NBA draft without requesting an Undergraduate Advisory Committee evaluation from the NBA.

2. He agrees orally or in writing to be represented by any individual other than an NCAA-certified agent.

3. He accepts any benefits from an individual other than an NCAA-certified agent.

4. He accepts any benefits from an NCAA-certified agent that are not expressly permitted by NCAA legislation or outside of the permissible timeframe allowed by NCAA legislation.

5. He participates in a tryout with an NBA team that lasts longer than 48 hours (exception for the NBA draft combine and G League Elite Camp held in connection with the combine), which he has not personally financed, or an NCAA-certified agent has not financed.

6. He misses class to participate in a tryout, including travel to and from the tryout (exception for the NBA draft combine and G League Elite Camp held in connection with the combine).

7. He enters the NBA draft AND does not take the appropriate steps to withdraw and declare his intention to resume intercollegiate participation.

8. He enters the NBA draft AND is drafted by a professional team.

It is important to note that an institution may cancel a student-athlete’s athletics scholarship if he has an agreement with a non-NCAA certified agent or otherwise jeopardizes his eligibility during this process.

Frequently Asked Questions

Non-NCAA-certified agents

Question No. 1: Who is a non-NCAA-certified agent?

Answer: A non-NCAA-certified agent is any individual who is not certified by the NCAA agent-certification program and, directly or indirectly:

a. Represents or attempts to represent an individual for the purpose of marketing his or her athletics ability or reputation for financial gain; or

b. Seeks to obtain any type of financial gain or benefit from securing a prospective student-athlete's enrollment at an educational institution or from a student-athlete's potential earnings as a professional athlete.

Question No. 2: May a student-athlete, his family members or any other individuals who are associated with him because of playing basketball (e.g., high school coach, non-scholastic team coach) have any type of agreement (e.g., written, oral, future) with anon-NCAA-certified agent?

Answer: NO! A student-athlete, his family members or any other individuals who are associated with him because of playing basketball are not permitted to have an agreement (written, oral or future) with a non-NCAA-certified agent, or anyone who is employed by or acting on behalf of an agent or sports agency (i.e., “runner”).

Question No. 3: Is a non-NCAA-certified agent allowed to contact teams on behalf of a student-athlete to arrange tryouts?

Answer: NO! A student-athlete cannot have a non-NCAA-certified agent arrange a tryout (or private workout) with an NBA team.

Question No. 4: May a student-athlete, his family members or any other individuals who are associated with him because of playing basketball (e.g., high school coach, non-scholastic team coach) accept benefits from a non-NCAA-certified agent?

Answer: NO!

NCAA-certified agents

In August 2018, the NCAA Division I Board of Directors adopted bylaws that allow an enrolled men's basketball student-athlete who has requested an evaluation from the NBA Undergraduate Advisory Committee to enter into an agreement and receive limited benefits from an NCAA-certified agent.

Question No. 1: Who is an NCAA-certified agent?

Answer: An NCAA-certified agent is any individual who solicits a student-athlete to enter into an agency contract for purposes of obtaining employment with a professional sports team or organization as a professional athlete.

An NCAA-certified agent must maintain an active certification per policies and procedures of the NCAA agent-certification program.

Note: For purposes of NCAA bylaws and this memo, NBPA-certified agents are considered NCAA-certified agents until the NCAA certification-program is developed, which will not be later than August 1, 2019.

Question No. 2: May a student-athlete enter into an agreement with an NCAA-certified agent?

Answer: YES! Following his team's 2018-19 basketball season and once he has requested an evaluation from the NBA Undergraduate Advisory Committee, a student-athlete may enter into an agreement with an NCAA-certified agent.

Question No. 3: When may a student-athlete sign an agreement for representation with an NCAA-certified agent?

Answer: A student-athlete may sign an agreement with an NCAA-certified agent after the conclusion of his team's playing season and once he has requested an evaluation from the NBA Undergraduate Advisory Committee. A student-athlete may not be represented by an NCAA-certified agent until he has signed a written agreement with the agent. If a student-athlete does not sign a contract with a professional team, the agreement between the student-athlete and agent (including permissible expenses) must be terminated before the student-athlete enrolls full time in the ensuing regular academic term.

Question No. 4: What services may an NCAA-certified agent provide to a student-athlete?

Answer: An NCAA-certified agent may provide representation services to a student-athlete for purposes of obtaining employment with a professional sports team or organization as a professional athlete. Such services may include contacting professional teams on behalf of the student-athlete and setting up tryouts with professional teams.

Question No. 5: May an NCAA-certified agent provide expenses to a student-athlete or his family members prior to an agency contract being signed?

Answer: NO! It remains impermissible for an NCAA-certified agent to provide expenses to a student-athlete or his family members prior to an agency contract being signed. The NCAA and the Uniform Law Commission are working together to modify the Uniform Athlete Agents Acts to allow for NCAA-certified agents to provide limited expenses to a student-athlete during the agent selection process (i.e., prior to signing a contract with an agent).

Question No. 6: Who is considered a family member of a student-athlete?

Answer: As defined in NCAA Bylaw 12.02.4, a family member is an individual with any of the following relationships to a student-athlete: spouse, parent or legal guardian, child, sibling, grandparent, domestic partner or any individual whose close association with the enrolled student-athlete is the practical equivalent of a family relationship. While not subject to the agent certification process, family members remain subject to all applicable NCAA legislation and will jeopardize the student-athlete's eligibility if found to have solicited financial or other material benefits as a result of their relationship with the student-athlete.

Question No. 7: May an NCAA-certified agent provide expenses to a student-athlete and his family members once an agency agreement is signed?

Answer: YES! Once a student-athlete signs an agreement with an NCAA-certified agent, the agent may provide transportation, lodging and meals to the student-athlete and his family members related to meeting with the agent or professional teams. The student-athlete may not miss class for such meetings, including during the summer.

Question No. 8: Does this legislation allow an NCAA-certified agent to cover expenses for a student-athlete to use the services of other professionals, such as a trainer and/or nutritionist?

Answer: NO! Permissible expenses are limited to meals, lodging and transportation related to meeting with the agent or professional teams.

Question No. 9: If professional services (e.g., nutritionist, trainer) are available through the NCAA-certified agent, may the student-athlete access those services?

Answer: YES! He may use services available through the agent provided he pays the going rate for such services.

Question No. 10: Is the student-athlete required to compensate the NCAA-certified agent for representation services?

Answer: NO! A student-athlete is only required to compensate the agent for representation services if the agent charges other clients for the same services (e.g., flat rate fee for consultation).

Question No. 11: If a student-athlete is not drafted and enters or returns to school, is he required to pay back permissible expenses received from the NCAA-certified agent?

Answer: NO!

NBA draft

Question No. 1: Is a student-athlete allowed to enter the NBA Draft prior to exhausting his NCAA eligibility (i.e., as an NBA early-entry candidate)?

Answer: YES! A student-athlete may enter a professional basketball league's draft each year during his collegiate career without jeopardizing his eligibility, provided:

a. He requests an evaluation from the National Basketball Association's Undergraduate Advisory Committee before entering the draft (new NCAA requirement beginning with the 2019 NBA Draft);

b. He withdraws his name from the NBA Draft by 11:59 p.m. Eastern time on May 29, 2019;

c. He declares his intention to resume intercollegiate participation by 11:59 p.m. Eastern time on May 29, 2019. This declaration must be in writing to his director of athletics; and

d. He is not drafted by any team.

Question No. 2: May a student-athlete participate in the NBA Draft Combine and/or G League Elite Camp in May?

Answer: YES! If invited, a student-athlete may participate in the NBA Draft Combine and/or G League Elite Camp in May.

Question No. 3: Can the NBA pay for actual and necessary travel, and room and board expenses associated with participating in the NBA Draft Combine and/or G League Elite Camp?

Answer: YES! A student-athlete may accept actual and necessary travel, and room and board expenses from the NBA to attend the NBA Draft Combine and/or G League Elite Camp.

Workouts/tryouts

Question No. 1: Can a student-athlete's college coach assist with the logistical issues associated with on-campus or off-campus workouts/tryouts (e.g., arranging and scheduling of a professional team tryout)?

Answer: YES! It is permissible for a student-athlete's institutional head coach to assist in the logistical arrangements for a student-athlete to engage in a professional tryout that occurs on or off campus and for the coach to attend the tryout; however, it is not permissible for a coach to direct or supervise such tryout.

Question No. 2: Can a professional team pay for a student-athlete's private tryout with the team?

Answer: YES! In addition to being able to participate in the NBA Draft Combine and/or G League Elite Camp in May, a student-athlete may also participate in a tryout with a professional team, provided he does not miss class. The student-athlete may receive actual and necessary expenses from the NBA team in conjunction with one 48-hour tryout per team. The 48-hour tryout period begins when he arrives at the tryout location. At the completion of the 48-hour period, the student-athlete must depart the location of the tryout immediately in order to receive return transportation expenses. A professional team may not pay for a student-athlete's training in preparation for his tryout with the team.

Question No. 3: Can an NCAA-certified agent pay for a student-athlete's tryout with a professional team?

Answer: YES! Once a student-athlete signs an agreement with an NCAA-certified agent, the agent may provide him (and his family members) with transportation, lodging and meals related to tryouts with professional teams, provided the student-athlete does not miss class. An NCAA-certified agent may not pay for a student-athlete's training in preparation for his tryout with the team.

Question No. 4: Can any other individual pay for a student-athlete's tryout with a professional team?

Answer: NO! Unless a professional team or NCAA-certified agent pays for the expenses in conjunction with a tryout, a student-athlete and his family are responsible for paying all expenses associated with any tryouts.

Question No. 5: Can any individual pay for training in preparation for a student-athlete's tryout with a professional team?

Answer: NO! A student-athlete and his family are responsible for paying all expenses associated with any training in preparation fora tryout with a professional team.

Question No. 6: Can a student-athlete pay for his own tryouts with professional teams?

Answer: YES! A tryout may extend beyond 48 hours if the individual self-finances additional expenses, including return transportation. A self-financed tryout may be for any length of time, provided the student-athlete does not miss class.

Loans

Question: May an agent or booster play a role in securing a loan?

Answer: NO! A student-athlete may not allow a third party (including an NCAA-certified agent or boosters) to be involved in any arrangement for securing a loan. For example, a student-athlete may not allow a third party to play a role in securing a personal loan or a loan to pay for disability or loss of value insurance.

Helpful Tips

1. A student-athlete should keep his head coach and compliance coordinator informed of all activities during this process.

2. A student-athlete should coordinate all activities himself in conjunction with his head coach or athletics department staff at his institution, or his NCAA-certified agent. He may receive the assistance of his family members, provided they are not working with a non-NCAA-certified agent who is marketing the student-athlete's athletics ability (e.g., contacting professional teams, setting up tryouts with professional teams).

3. A student-athlete should remain enrolled in school and complete academic courses while "testing the waters."

Key Dates

April 21: NBA draft deadline for early-entry candidates.

April 22-May 29: NBA teams can conduct or attend workouts with early-entry players.

May 14-19: NBA draft combine (Chicago).

May 29: NCAA withdrawal deadline.

June 20: NBA draft (New York).


Follow Sheldon Mickles on Twitter, @MicklesAdvocate.