It was late March when Sanders announced he would test the waters for a second consecutive year ahead of the NBA Draft. By not hiring an agent, it gave Sanders the opportunity to be evaluated by NBA officials, while keeping the option open to return to college. Despite not being invited to the NBA Draft Combine this month and not currently projected to be selected in June, he has taken a step further than last year. Sanders has landed a workout for the Sacramento Kings, which is scheduled for today.
Several other players will participate in the workout, per the Kings twitter account, including Iowa State’s Monte Morris, Louisville’s Mangok Mathiang, Georgia's JJ Frazier, Vanderbilt's Luke Kornet and Pittsburgh's Jamel Artis. Ironically, the last Rutgers player to be drafted in the first round, Quincy Douby, was selected by Sacramento with the #19th pick in the 2006 NBA Draft. Douby played three seasons for the Kings, before having a very successful pro career overseas.
This Wednesday is the deadline for underclassmen to withdraw their names from consideration for the NBA Draft. In regards to the Sacramento Kings, they hold picks #5 and #10 in the first round, as well as #34 near the top of the second round. It would seem highly unlikely that Sanders would be a candidate for their pick early in the second round, based on current projections. However, all it takes is for one team to like a player for them to be drafted.
If Sanders does remain in the draft, it’s more likely he would be signed as a free agent to play for a team in a sanctioned NBA Summer League. He could ultimately stick with an NBA franchise and play next season with a D-League team, if he doesn’t make an NBA roster. Of course, Sanders would have the option of playing overseas as well. NOTHING is official at this point and it’s still possible that Sanders will still decide to return to Rutgers before the Wednesday deadline.
When I spoke with coach Pikiell last month and asked him if he expected Sanders to return, he said “I do, but ultimately it is his decision.”
Sanders earned Honorable Mention All-Big Ten honors from both the media and coaches this past season, when he averaged 12.8 points, 3.2 assists, 3.2 rebounds, and 1.2 steals during his sophomore campaign. He led Rutgers in points, assists, and steals for the second consecutive season and ranked among the conference leaders in all three categories once again. Sanders needs just 147 more points in his career to reach the 1,000 point plateau. Whether he will come back and climb up the all-time scoring list in Rutgers history remains to be seen.
While it would be upsetting if Sanders does not return to Rutgers, it’s ultimately his decision. At the end of the day, he has to decide what he thinks is best for him and his family. As for Rutgers, the possibility of losing Sanders is now more likely than previously thought. The reality is losing the best player on the roster would be a significant setback for next season. With one scholarship currently available for next season, the coaching staff would have even more work to do this summer. For now, Rutgers fans can only wait until Sanders announces his decision to either remain in the draft or return to the banks. We should find out his decision by Wednesday at the latest.
Update: Corey tells reporters post-workout that “he is leaning towards coming out” for the NBA Draft.