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April 14, 2010

Johnson, Moore won't have much time to decide

Boilermaker seniors-to-be JaJuan Johnson and E'Twaun Moore have each declared for this summer's NBA draft.

Neither, however, have plans to hire an agent, thus preserving the option to return to school by the NCAA's May 8 withdrawal deadline.

But that only gives them three weeks to make one of the biggest decisions of their lives, with a potentially hectic schedule to juggle.

"There are a lot of positives that can come out of the information gathering that takes place this time of year," Coach Matt Painter said in a released statement Wednesday. "Both JaJuan and E'Twaun have our full support as they start the process of finding out where they stand in the eyes of NBA personnel."

With underclassmen nationwide falling all over themselves to get into the draft this off-season - the number's now more at more than 50 and counting of U.S. underclassmen alone, with the April 25 filing deadline still more than 10 days away - Johnson and Moore have their names in the mix, though they are maintaining their amateur status by not hiring agents.

Beginning April 29, NBA teams can begin conducting workouts for underclassmen who've declared.

"You can go work out for (NBA) teams," Johnson said Tuesday night, before Purdue announced Wednesday morning his and Moore's declarations. "If you don't hire an agent, you have to pay for training and things like that you want to do. But it's just an opportunity to get feedback, to get feedback from the NBA."

Players who have declared for the draft hoping to preserve remaining eligibility are prohibited from missing any school for any activities related to the draft.

That makes for sort of time crunch for Purdue's underclassmen.

Finals week of the university's spring semester ends May 8, coinciding exactly with the drop-dead date for players who wish to return to school to extract their names from the draft.

That means then that whatever workouts Johnson and/or Moore can line up will likely have to be squeezed into weekends and if manageable, nights and off days from school responsibilities.

For every academic day missed in this process, a player can be hit with a one-game suspension in the college year that follows.

"It's one of those things you just really have to be careful about," Johnson said.

Last year, the NCAA dramatically scaled back the window of time it gave underclassmen to make their NBA decisions, pushing the deadline from mid-June to May 8, at the urging of ACC coaches tired of losing players at the 11th hour with no opportunity to recruit replacements during the late signing period.

The only restriction put on college players entering their names for the draft is that they're only allowed to do it once through the course of their college careers.

With Johnson and Moore having only one more year of eligibility to retain, that restriction's a wash for them.

"I don't really see anything wrong with (doing it)," Johnson said. "I don't think there's anything wrong with just gathering information and seeing where you stand with things. And that's what it is right now."

Both Johnson and Moore were non-committal about entering their names for the draft following Purdue's postseason banquet Tuesday night.

"I'm confident that this process will make me stronger as a person and a player," Moore said in Wednesday's released statement. "It's important to me to leave open the option of returning to Purdue, but I also want to take the first step toward getting my game ready for the next level."

In the NBA, first-round draft picks, of which there are 30, get guaranteed contracts, so first-round assurances are often sought by players as a deciding factor in whether to stay or go.

Web sites don't make the decisions that matter, but opinion is mixed on the 6-foot-10 Johnson.

ESPN.com ranks Johnson as the No. 51 prospect among those players either considered possibilities to be in this year's draft, with a projection of "Late first (round) to early second."

MyNBADraft.com projects him as the draft's No. 54 pick.

NBADraft.net, however, does not list him in its full two-round mock draft.

Moore, Purdue's leading scorer in each of his first three seasons as a Boilermaker, has openly talked about his senior season in West Lafayette, as has the 6-foot-10 Johnson, a first-team All-Big Ten player as a sophomore and a second-team pick as a junior.

Purdue has not lost a player early to the NBA Draft since Glenn Robinson in 1994; guard Willie Deane entered his name for the draft in 2002, but withdrew and returned to Purdue for his senior year.

Johnson said Tuesday night that he didn't have much of an idea what his stock is currently, needing to know just how many more underclassmen decide what they're doing.

Though there's been a deluge to declarations to date, there are some outstanding decisions to be made that could impact the draft considerably, including those of Duke's Kyle Singler and Butler's Gordon Hayward.

"I think I'll have a better idea where I stand," Johnson said, "once everyone's in."




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