Robert Carter, Jr. made it official on Thursday, with the program announcing that he would enter the NBA Draft and plan to sign with an agent. That means forfeiting his one year of college eligibility remaining and fully committing to going pro, once he inks with an agent.
The agent component of the equation aside, a decision that takes away some of the flexibility that new NBA Draft entry rules afford, here are three reasons why Carter's decision to declare makes sense.
1) He has a coveted NBA skill set
There are few sets of skills more valuable to NBA teams right now than players who fit the stretch-four mold. In his single season at Maryland, Carter built on the groundwork he laid at Georgia Tech and the results are clear -- he improved dramatically.
His work during the season he sat showed in a 10 percentage-point jump in field goal percentage (to 56 percent), an eight percentage-point jump in three-point percentage (to 34 percent), and an increase in scoring to 12.8 points per game. That's his resume for the next level now.
His worth ethic is unquestioned, so one would think that the trend would continue upward. That also applies to the areas of his game that are weakest. Can he make the same strides defensively that he did offensively?
2) This would have been the end of the college road for him (originally)
Turning 22 years old this week, Carter has been in school for four years. He just happened to sit out one of those years after transferring from Georgia Tech. So, yes, he has another year of eligibility available to him, but moralizers should be quieted by the fact that he is already on track to attain his college degree this spring.
Four years in school with a college degree in hand at 22 years old? That's what everyone says a player ought to do anyway before going pro.
It's never about if a player is "ready." It's about whether an NBA team thinks what you bring to the table is valuable enough to draft or sign into the franchise and whether that base set of skills you have can then be molded by that coaching staff.
3) An outstanding final college season doesn't always mean being a first-round pick
The line of thinking is always that coming back for another year and posting strong numbers automatically means that you push yourself into the first round of the NBA Draft. Just look at other guys in this year's draft and you'll see that's not always the case.
Perry Ellis was the anchor for Kansas this season (and was a game-changer in his team's Sweet 16 win over Maryland). DraftExpress projects him to go 59th overall -- the second-to-last pick in the draft. Yogi Ferrell was All-Big Ten as a senior. DraftExpress? Projected 56th overall.
DraftExpress has only three seniors being selected in the first round of this year's draft. Two were without question the two best players in college basketball all year -- Buddy Hield and Denzel Valentine. The other is Baylor's Taurean Prince.
There's no guarantee that even if Carter posted All-Big Ten numbers that he would really move up in the draft all that much. If he is projected to go 50th now, has a strong season, and ends up at, say, 35th overall, was it really worth it?
His earnings potential, either in the NBA or overseas, is there. It's difficult to turn that down at this point.