Stay or Go? Advice for the 2020 NBA Draft’s Early Entrants

The NBA released its list of early-entry candidates on Tuesday night, and there were 163 players from colleges and other educational institutions who applied for entry into the NBA Draft.

I spoke to a handful of NBA executives about whether each player should stay in the draft or return to school.

Let’s start with the easy ones.

No-Brainer — Going, Going, Gone!

Precious Achiuwa, 6-9, 225, PF, Fr., Memphis
Cole Anthony, 6-3, 190, PG, Fr., North Carolina
Saddiq Bey, 6-8, 216, SF, So., Villanova
Vernon Carey Jr., 6-10, 270, C, Fr., Duke
Devon Dotson, 6-2, 185, PG, So., Kansas
Anthony Edwards, 6-5, 225, SG, Fr., Georgia
Malachi Flynn, 6-1, 185, PG, Jr., San Diego State
Josh Green, 6-6, 210, SG, Fr., Arizona
Tyrese Haliburton, 6-5, 175, PG, So., Iowa State
Tre Jones, 6-3, 185, PG, So., Duke
Kira Lewis, 6-3, 165, PG, So., Alabama
Nico Mannion, 6-3, 190, PG, Fr., Arizona
Tyrese Maxey, 6-3, 200, G, Fr., Kentucky
Jaden McDaniels, 6-9, 200, F, Fr., Washington
Aaron Nesmith, 6-6, 213, F, So., Vanderbilt
Zeke Nnaji, 6-11, 240, F, Fr., Arizona
Jordan Nwora, 6-7, 225, F, Jr., Louisville
Onyeka Okongwu, 6-9, 245, PF, Fr., USC
Isaac Okoro, 6-6, 225, SF, Fr., Auburn
Daniel Oturu, 6-10, 240, C, So., Minnesota
Jahmi’us Ramsey, 6-4, 195, G, Fr., Texas Tech
Jalen Smith, 6-10, 225, PF, So., Maryland
Cassius Stanley, 6-6, 193, SG, Fr., Duke
Isaiah Stewart, 6-9, 250, PF, Fr., Washington
Obi Toppin, 6-9, 220, PF, RS So., Dayton
Devin Vassell, 6-6, 180, SG-SF, So., Florida State
Patrick Williams, 6-8, 225, SF, Fr., Florida State
James Wiseman, 7-1, 240, C, Fr., Memphis

It’s Time to Leave for the NBA

Tyler Bey, 6-7, 218, G, Jr., Colorado | “I know we like him. He can be a 3-and-D guy. I don’t think he goes in the first round, but it’s not out of the question, either.” – NBA executive

Elijah Hughes, 6-6, 215, SF, RS Jr., Syracuse | “I’m fine with him leaving, especially if he has his degree. He’ll be drafted — probably in the second round somewhere.” – NBA executive

Reggie Perry, 6-10, 250, PF, So., Mississippi State | “He may as well. He just hasn’t really matured, and it’s not Ben Howland’s fault. He’s talented and should be [selected] somewhere from [pick] 30 to 45.” – NBA executive

Immanuel Quickley, 6-3, 190, G, So., Kentucky | “He had a great second half of the year. He’s an undersized two-guard, and unless he was going to play the point next season at Kentucky, he should leave now. I think he goes somewhere in the second round.” – NBA executive

Paul Reed, 6-9, 220, F, Jr., DePaul | “He will probably go somewhere in the first part of the second round, and I’m just not sure going back to school will help him all that much, if at all.” – NBA executive

Nick Richards, 6-11, 247, PF, Jr., Kentucky | “This is an easy one. Even though he’s a second-rounder, he needs to go. He played well and went from undrafted to being drafted. He can’t lose that momentum.” – NBA executive

Robert Woodard II, 6-7, 230, F, So., Mississippi State | “He’s all over the boards, but he’ll be drafted. Some guys love him and others don’t. He’s an athletic combo forward. I think he could go in the first round.” – NBA executive

Omer Yurtseven, 7-0, 264, C, Sr., Georgetown | “He is what he is by now. He may as well come out and start making money.” – NBA executive

They Say They’re Ready, But Leaving School Would Be a Mistake

Ty-Shon Alexander, 6-4, 195, SG, Jr., Creighton | “He’s a borderline drafted guy who is probably on a two-way [contract] next year. He should go back to school. I’m not sure what he’s doing.” – NBA executive

Alonzo Gaffney, 6-9, 200, PF, Fr., Ohio State | He barely got off the bench at Ohio State last season, averaging 6.8 minutes per game. He’s long and looks the part, but his stock couldn’t be any lower.

“This is one of the worst decisions of anyone. He needs to transfer.” – NBA executive

Naji Marshall, 6-7, 220, SF, Jr., Xavier | “Maybe he won’t do more than he did, but I think he goes undrafted … and with another year, he’s got a much better shot to stick.” – NBA executive

Another NBA executive: “I think he’ll be [stuck] in the G League abyss, and it’s too bad cause I like him.”

E.J. Montgomery, 6-10, 230, PF, So., Kentucky | Montgomery averaged 6.1 points and 5.4 boards in 24.1 minutes per game this past season. His role will expand this season, especially since the ‘Cats don’t have anyone else up front right now.

“We don’t even have him in our Top 100. I have no clue what he’s thinking.” – NBA executive

Jay Scrubb, 6-6, 215, SG, So., John A. Logan College | “Talented, but probably should have gone to Louisville for a year.” – NBA executive

Another NBA executive: “I wouldn’t draft him. He needed to go to college.”

Nick Weatherspoon, 6-2, 185, PG, Jr., Mississippi State | “Go back to school. He needs to learn how to play a team game. He just makes too many bad decisions.” – NBA executive

Kaleb Wesson, 6-9, 270, PF, Jr., Ohio State | “Mid to late second or undrafted. His body improved last year. Go back and get even better at guarding more athletic guys and also shooting from the perimeter.” – NBA executive

Kahlil Whitney, 6-6, 210, SF, Fr., Kentucky | “He screwed up when he left Kentucky in January or whatever it was. He should have transferred. He might as well go with the high schoolers in the new G League program because that’s what he needs.” – NBA executive

Emmitt Williams, 6-6, 230, PF, So., LSU | “Go back to school. He’s gotta go back.” – NBA executive

Leaning Toward Going Pro … And It’s a Bad Idea

Ayo Dosunmu, 6-5, 185, PG, So., Illinois | “He needs to go back. He’s got negative momentum. And without workouts, I think he could wind up maybe going undrafted.” – NBA executive

Malik Fitts, 6-8, 230, F, Jr., Saint Mary’s | “He’s going to end up in the G League. He could have been the best player at Saint Mary’s with Jordan Ford gone.” – NBA executive

Jalen Harris, 6-5, 195, SG, Jr., Nevada | “I know he’s probably staying in the draft, but he should go back to school.” – NBA executive

Another NBA executive: “Our intel is that he needs to go back to school and mature.”

Andrew Nembhard, 6-5, 193, PG, So., Florida | “I’ve heard he may not go back to Florida, but I don’t see any way he gets drafted. He needs to go back to school. Period.” – NBA executive

Trendon Watford, 6-9, 235, PF, Fr., LSU | “He needs to go back and work on his speed.” – NBA executive

Another NBA executive: “He’s a second-rounder with potential, but he should go back.” 

Please Don’t Do It, Youngster

Josh Hall, 6-9, 190, F, Post-Grad, Moravian Prep (NC) | “No, no, no. Go to school. PLEASE!” – NBA executive

Makur Maker, 6-11, 220, F, Post-Grad, Hillcrest Prep (AZ) | “He’s not [his cousin and NBA player] Thon. I don’t think he gets drafted.” – NBA executive

Kenyon Martin Jr., 6-6, 210, F, IMG Academy (FL) | “Maybe a fringe NBA guy. Kenyon [Sr.] should send him to play for [Bob] Huggins in college. He needs to work on his skill.” – NBA executive

Split Decision — NBA Execs Are Torn

Ashton Hagans, 6-3, 200, PG, So., Kentucky | “I think he’s a first-rounder, in the 20s. He’s got to get better with his shot, but he’s such a great on-ball defender.” – NBA executive

Another NBA executive: “I don’t think he gets drafted. He should go back and work on his shot and decision-making.”

Mason Jones, 6-5, 200, SG, Jr., Arkansas | “He had such an amazing year that I don’t know if he can duplicate it. I think he goes somewhere from 45 to 60.” – NBA executive

Another NBA executive: “He should go back. He’ll have a really good team and can improve his stock because so many people don’t really know much about him.”

Xavier Tillman, 6-8, 245, PF, Jr., Michigan State | “I think he’ll get drafted, and should probably come out.” – NBA executive

Another NBA executive: “He should go back to school. It’s a no-brainer for me. I don’t think he gets drafted. I love him as a college player — not sure he’s an NBA player.”

The NBA Is Intrigued, But It’s Wise to Return to School

Derrick Alston, 6-9, 190, SG, Jr., Boise State | “Someone might take a flyer on him, but he’s probably undrafted and playing in the G League — where his dad is a coach.” – NBA executive

Jared Butler, 6-3, 190, G, So., Baylor | “Go back. He probably gets drafted in the 40s or 50s. He can go back, play for a really good team and try and work his way into the first round.” – NBA executive

Kofi Cockburn, 7-0, 290, C, Fr., Illinois | “He’s a monster, but he should go back to school. He may get drafted, but it’s a toss-up. He needs another year in college.” – NBA executive

Isaiah Joe, 6-5, 180, SG, So., Arkansas | “He’d probably get drafted because he can flat-out shoot, but he needs to put on weight. He needs to go back another year.” – NBA executive

Corey Kispert, 6-7, 220, SF, Jr., Gonzaga | “I’m not sure his stock changes at all. He’s a good player with size who can shoot it and is deceptive athletically. He should go back, but I think there’s a chance he could get drafted.” – NBA executive

Saben Lee, 6-2, 183, PG, Jr., Vanderbilt | “He’s athletic, has a high IQ, but needs to go back. Become a guy who can shoot it.” – NBA executive

John Petty, 6-5, 184, SG, Jr., Alabama | “He should go back. You started to see it the second half of last season. He’s got the size and can shoot it. Go back and take another jump.” – NBA executive

Colbey Ross, 6-1, 180, G, Jr., Pepperdine | “Needs to go back to school. Has some talent but has to be more efficient and under control. G League player right now.” – NBA executive

Tyrell Terry, 6-1, 160, PG, Fr., Stanford | “I like him, but he looks like a little boy. He needs to go back and put on weight.” – NBA executive

Another NBA executive: “He could be picked in the first round on potential, or go 50. Go back, work on your body and shot selection.”


Luka Garza, 6-11, 260, C, Jr., Iowa | He was second to Obi Toppin in all of the National Player of the Year awards, and all signs point to him returning to Iowa for his senior campaign.

“I know what he did last season in college, but he could use one more year to work on his body, his perimeter shot and his defense. Then maybe he gets drafted.” – NBA executive

Filip Petrusev, 6-11, 235, PF, So., Gonzaga | “His game doesn’t translate. He plays hard, finishes around the rim. But he needs to be able to show he can step out and be a four-man. He needs to go back 100 percent.” – NBA executive

Javonte Smart, 6-4, 205, PG, So., LSU | “He has to learn how to play the point. Go back, and maybe he can get drafted.” – NBA executive

Chris Smith, 6-9, 215, G, Jr., UCLA | “He has to go back. Keep improving his reputation, which hasn’t been great in terms of work ethic. He also needs to improve his basketball IQ.” – NBA executive

Unlikely to Be Drafted (aka Should Absolutely Return)

Milan Acquaah, 6-3, 195, G, Jr., California Baptist
Jordyn Adams, 6-3, 200, G, Fr., Austin Peay
Abdul Ado, 6-11, 255, F, Jr., Mississippi State
Timmy Allen, 6-6, 204, F, So., Utah
Joel Ayayi, 6-5, 180, G, RS So., Gonzaga
Brendan Bailey, 6-8, 200, SF, So., Marquette
Jermaine Bishop, 6-1, 185, G, RS Sr., Norfolk State
Jomaru Brown, 6-2, 190, G, So., Eastern Kentucky
Marcus Burk, 6-3, 205, G, Jr., IUPUI
Dachon Burke Jr., 6-4, 180, G, RS Jr., South Alabama
Jordan Burns, 6-0, 175, G, Jr., Colgate
Manny Camper, 6-7, 203, G, Jr., Siena
Marcus Carr, 6-2, 195, PG, RS So., Minnesota
Tamenang Choh, 6-5, 210, F, Jr., Brown
David Collins, 6-3, 218, G, Jr., South Florida
Zach Cooks, 5-9, 155, PG, Jr., NJIT
Jalen Crutcher, 6-1, 175, PG, Jr., Dayton
Ryan Daly, 6-5, 225, G, RS Jr., Saint Joseph’s
Nate Darling, 6-5, 200, SG, Jr., Delaware
Darius Days, 6-6, 240, F, So., LSU
Dexter Dennis, 6-5, 207, G, So., Wichita State
Lamine Diane, 6-7, 205, F, So., Cal State Northridge
Nojel Eastern, 6-7, 225, G, Jr., Purdue
CJ Elleby, 6-6, 200, SF, So., Washington State
Mason Faulkner, 6-1, 181, PG, Jr., Western Carolina
LJ Figueroa, 6-6, 195, SG, Jr., St. John’s
Blake Francis, 6-0, 175, G, RS Jr., Richmond
Hasahn French, 6-7, 245, PF, Jr., Saint Louis
D.J. Funderburk, 6-10, 225, PF, RS Jr., NC State
Both Gach, 6-6, 183, SG, So., Utah
Jacob Gilyard, 5-9, 160, G, Jr., Richmond
Grant Golden, 6-10, 255, F, RS Jr., Richmond
Jordan Goodwin, 6-3, 200, G, Jr., Saint Louis
Tony Goodwin II, 6-6, 200, F, Redemption Academy (MA)
Jayvon Graves, 6-3, 200, PG, Jr., Buffalo
A.J. Green, 6-4, 175, G, So., UNI
Darin Green Jr., 6-4, 180, G, Fr., UCF
Rayshaun Hammonds, 6-9, 235, PF, Jr., Georgia
Niven Hart, 6-5, 205, G, Fr., Fresno State
Aaron Henry, 6-6, 210, SF, So., Michigan State
Jalen Hill, 6-10, 245, PF, So., UCLA
Nate Hinton, 6-5, 210, G, So., Houston
Jay Huff, 7-1, 243, PF, RS Jr., Virginia
Feron Hunt, 6-8, 195, F, So., SMU
Chance Hunter, 6-6, 190, G, So., Long Beach State
DeJon Jarreau, 6-5, 185, G, RS Jr., Houston
Damien Jefferson, 6-5, 200, F, Jr., Creighton
Dakari Johnson, 6-0, 170, G, Fr., Cape Fear CC
Jalen Johnson, 6-7, 205, F, Jr., Louisiana
Andre Jones, 6-4, 200, G, Jr., Nicholls State
C.J. Jones, 6-5, 175, G, Jr., Middle Tennessee
Herb Jones, 6-7, 205, SF, Jr., Alabama
Kameron Langley, 6-2, 205, PG, Jr., North Carolina A&T
A.J. Lawson, 6-6, 180, G, So., South Carolina
Matt Lewis, 6-5, 195, G, Jr., James Madison
Isaiah Livers, 6-7, 230, SF, Jr., Michigan
Denzel Mahoney, 6-5, 225, G, Jr., Creighton
Sandro Mamukelashvili, 6-11, 240, PF, Jr., Seton Hall
Tre Mann, 6-4, 175, G, Fr., Florida
Remy Martin, 6-0, 170, PG, Jr., Arizona State
Mac McClung, 6-2, 186, PG, So., Georgetown
Isiaha Mike, 6-8, 215, F, Jr., SMU
Isaiah Miller, 6-0, 180, PG, Jr., UNC Greensboro
Matt Mitchell, 6-6, 240, F, Jr., San Diego State
Obadiah Noel, 6-4, 190, G, Jr., UMass Lowell
Elijah Olaniyi, 6-5, 203, SG, Jr., Stony Brook
Nate Pierre-Louis, 6-4, 200, G, Jr., Temple
Xavier Pinson, 6-2, 170, PG, So., Missouri
Yves Pons, 6-6, 215, G, Jr., Tennessee
Darius Quisenberry, 6-1, 186, G, So., Youngstown State
Fatts Russell, 5-10, 165, PG, Jr., Rhode Island
Joe Saterfield, 6-4, 185, G, Ranger CC
Aamir Simms, 6-8, 240, F, Jr., Clemson
Collin Smith, 6-11, 240, F, Jr., UCF
Justin Smith, 6-7, 230, F, Jr., Indiana
Mitchell Smith, 6-10, 220, F, RS Jr., Missouri
Stef Smith, 6-1, 185, G, Jr., Vermont
Ben Stanley, 6-6, 225, F, So., Hampton
Parker Stewart, 6-5, 200, G, RS So., UT Martin
Terry Taylor, 6-5, 230, G, Jr., Austin Peay
MaCio Teague, 6-3, 195, G, RS Jr., Baylor
Justin Thomas, 5-11, 180, G, Jr., Morehead State
Ethan Thompson, 6-5, 195, G, Jr., Oregon State
Jeremiah Tilmon, 6-10, 260, PF, Jr., Missouri
Jordan Tucker, 6-7, 220, SF, Jr., Butler
Alonzo Verge Jr., 6-3, 170, G, Jr., Arizona State
Chris Vogt, 7-1, 260, C, Jr., Cincinnati
CJ Walker, 6-1, 195, G, Jr., Ohio State
Ibi Watson, 6-5, 203, G, Jr., Dayton
Jarrod West, 5-11, 185, PG, Jr., Marshall
Romello White, 6-8, 235, PF, RS Jr., Arizona State
DeAndre Williams, 6-9, 190, F, So., Evansville
Keith Williams, 6-5, 215, SG, Jr., Cincinnati
McKinley Wright IV, 6-0, 195, PG, Jr., Colorado

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