Florida State guard Dwayne Bacon will make himself eligible for the 2016 NBA draft but will not hire an agent, he announced in a Twitter statement Wednesday.
"I have decided to submit my name for the 2016 draft in order to explore my dream of entering the NBA and to keep my collegiate eligibility [intact] I will not hire an agent," Bacon said. "I have the upmost respect for Coach [Leonard] Hamilton and the rest of the FSU staff, as they are the ones who helped put me in this position to begin with. Returning to Florida State remains a viable an [sic] strong decision, I love being a Seminole. I will make an informed decision on my future when the time is right."
Bacon, 20, averaged 15.8 points and 5.8 rebounds during his freshman campaign. He is one of many underclassmen taking advantage of new NCAA rules that make it easier for players to return to school after declaring for the draft.
In January, the NCAA announced it was pushing back the official declaration date until 10 days after the NBA Draft Combine. Players who do not sign representation may also enter their names as many times as they want without penalty and conduct one personal workout with a team.
One of the most highly touted recruits in Florida State history, Bacon is an interesting prospect. He was praised as a strong shooter coming out of high school but made just 28.1 percent of his threes. This isn't a Bradley Beal-esque case, where Beal struggled from the field despite having near-perfect form. Bacon has an awkward release with a lowish trajectory—one most NBA shooting coaches will want to fix.
If we're placing bets, Bacon feels much more likely to return than keep his name in the draft. ESPN's Chad Ford currently has him as the 69th-best player in the 2016 class. Some players ranked ahead will withdraw their names from consideration, and it's hard to see Bacon forgoing three years of eligibility to be a late second-round pick. Given all the drafting and stashing that happens in the second round, the odds may be lower than 50-50 that Bacon's drafted at all.
“I try not to get caught up in the hype of what people say about me or what people think of me,” Bacon said, per Bob Ferrante of the Ledger. “It means a lot because that's every college player's goal to reach the NBA. It's something that I have potential, that I know I can do. My coaches know that I can get there. But it's all about the work and the fight.”
It was only a year ago that 247Sports ranked Bacon ninth among all incoming freshmen in its composite rankings. It's obvious the physical talent is there. But Bacon needs another year to prove himself to NBA scouts, and it's likely his teammate Malik Beasley, who declared Monday, does as well. If Bacon and Beasley return and lead Florida State to the NCAA tournament, they may find themselves back in the first-round conversation.
Follow Tyler Conway (@jtylerconway) on Twitter.