North Carolina’s Joel Berry, Tony Bradley and Theo Pinson have all declared their eligibility for the NBA draft, the school announced on Monday, but they haven’t signed with an agent and they can return to school if they do not sign with one.
The deadline for college freshman, sophomores and juniors to declare for the draft was late Sunday night. By doing so, Berry, Bradley and Pinson can go through the pre-draft process – the NBA combine and individual workouts with teams – and still return to school if they don’t sign with an agent.
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Last year, Justin Jackson, UNC’s junior wing forward, took advantage of the opportunity to go through the pre-draft process. The feedback he received guided his summer workouts, and those helped him become the ACC Player of the Year.
This is the first time that Berry, the junior point guard, and Pinson, a junior wing forward, have declared for the draft. Bradley, the 6-11 freshman forward, played with polish and skill in the post during his first college season.
“We fully support our players taking this step of being evaluated by NBA teams to see where they stand in relation to the draft,” UNC coach Roy Williams said in a statement. “All three players have options to do what is best for their careers and going through the evaluation process helps them make the best decision available to each of them.”
The date to know now is May 24. That’s the deadline – 10 days after the NBA combine – by which college underclassmen must withdraw from the draft pool if they intend to return to college. Last year, both Jackson and Kennedy Meeks entered the draft before deciding to return to school.
Both eventually helped lead UNC to its sixth NCAA championship. Berry, Pinson and Bradley all played key roles during the Tar Heels’ run, too. Berry, who earned Final Four Most Outstanding Player honors, averaged 14.7 points and led UNC with 138 assists.
Bradley averaged 7.1 points, 5.1 rebounds and made 57.3 percent of his attempts from the field. He scored in double figures 13 times. If he returns, Bradley would be the focal point of UNC’s low-post offense, and UNC’s only true post player with any college experience.
Pinson, who missed 19 games because of injuries, averaged 6.1 points, 4.6 rebounds and 3.7 assists. He was considered the Tar Heels’ most adept passer. During UNC’s victories against Oregon and Gonzaga in the Final Four, Pinson averaged 8.5 rebounds.
Now Williams and the Tar Heels will wait for Berry, Bradley and Pinson to make their final decisions. None have been projected as sure-thing first-round selections, though they can all improve their positioning through the pre-draft process.
If they all return, UNC would be in a strong position to defend its national championship. If any one of them leave, it’d create a significant void at their position entering next season.