By Andrew Lombardo,
Sports Business Writer
Seton Hall’s Isaiah Whitehead will be entering the NBA draft this spring. As disappointed as Pirates fans may be to see their star point guard leave, it is still entirely possible that he will remain at Seton Hall for his junior season. Due to a new NCAA rule, Whitehead can withdraw his name from the draft up to ten days after the NBA Combine. He also has decided not to sign an agent, a move that lets him keep his amateur status and come back for another year.
While Whitehead may have NBA potential, how ready he is for the NBA is still up in the air. While the athleticism and talent are there, some of the other intangibles are not, at least not yet. His decision making and turnover woes are two of the biggest issues NBA scouts have seen, especially if he is a point guard at the next level. However, his ability to create instant offense for himself and others have scouts listing him as more of a combo guard in the NBA. He finished the season averaging 18.2 points, 3.6 rebounds, 5.1 assists 1.4 blocks and 1.2 steals per game. The most eye opening statistic was his blocks per game. Whitehead has become an exceptional shot blocker for a guard. His great season was awarded with a first team All-Big East Selection on his way to winning the Big East Tournament Championship and landing the Seton Hall Pirates their first March Madness bid in a decade.
The biggest question right now is whether Whitehead’s stock is high enough to get him drafted at all, let alone the first round. Whitehead was not in either NBADraft.net or DraftExpress.com latest mock draft. He could and should be a second round pick, but only first round picks receive guaranteed contracts. So unless his stock climbs big time, it could be a big risk to leave. If he decides to go back for his junior season the Pirates will have sky high expectations for the season. They would be returning all five starters. With the core staying intact, the Pirates would likely be a preseason top 25 team, as well as a popular pick to win the Big East. With more eyes on him for a full season, Whitehead could do wonders to his draft stock.
With the NBA Draft Combine ending on May 15, Whitehead would have until the 25 to decide whether to return. The draft itself is not for another month, taking place on June 23 at the Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn. The Seton Hall fan base will be following closely, hoping he returns, setting up a potentially special season. Whether or not Whitehead returns will have huge implications on Seton Hall’s upcoming season.
A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, April 12th print edition.
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