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Declaring for NBA Draft no longer guarantees college basketball players leave

Oshae Brissett’s going to test the waters on the NBA Draft process. That doesn’t guarantee he departs.

NCAA Basketball: ACC Conference Tournament-Duke vs Syracuse Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

The Syracuse Orange men’s basketball team got some sort of surprising news on Thursday when it was reported that sophomore forward Oshae Brissett would test the NBA Draft waters. Since he hasn’t yet signed with an agent, he can do so and still come back to Syracuse should scouts not project him to get selected this June.

As discussed before, this is a no-brainer for college basketball players looking to get an honest assessment of their chances to make it in the pros and get tips to improve their game. Tyus Battle did it last year, and still returned to Syracuse. He’s also not the only player to do so since the rule change a couple years ago.

In fact last year, quite a few underclassmen opted to declare without signing with an agent, and ultimately came back to school. Some of those are less notable names. But others are far more recognizable.

Along with Battle, PJ Washington (Kentucky), Nojel Eastern and Carsen Edwards (Purdue), Luke Maye (North Carolina), Tyler Cook (Iowa), Bruno Fernando (Maryland), Jalen Hudson (Florida), Shamorie Ponds (St. John’s), Justin Wright-Foreman (Hofstra), and Jalien McDaniels (San Diego State) all made the same decision. Nearly all of them played in this year’s NCAA Tournament, at the very least. Several potentially improved their stock by sticking around another year.

NCAA Basketball: Syracuse at Duke Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

The fact that Brissett just saw Battle go through the process and opt to return could end up being a good thing for him, and one that provides additional perspective and council as things begin. Situations are a little bit different for Brissett — Battle was projected as a late first-rounder when he declared, while Oshae is not on the board right now — so that may end up making the decision for him if he winds up not invited to the Draft Combine at all.

But if he is invited, that probably means the draft boards are at least a little off. Plus, it gives him a shot to get far more face-to-face time with pro scouts that can assess his game more thoroughly. He can get that in private workouts too. But working out against other top prospects while honing his abilities a bit more — specifically with regard to finishing at the rim — is a benefit whether he comes back or not. And if he does return, Syracuse stands to gain from it as well.

While we’re far from the end here, don’t necessarily think that his declaration means he’s definitely leaving. A bunch of guys from last year were projected to go undrafted and stayed declared, sure. But as the names above show, plenty that were going undrafted or even those that were slated to be picked (as Battle and others were) were happy to return, too.

In any case, interesting times for Syracuse basketball, as things will look very different come 2019-20, whether Brissett’s back or not.