One of the top players in the class of 2016 could become the first high school player to enter the NBA Draft in 11 years thanks to a new NCAA rule that allows athletes to pull their names out of the draft following the combine. Jonathan Isaac, a 6'10 forward committed to Florida State, said he's likely to declare for the draft and gauge interest from pro teams, according to Sports Illustrated.
Isaac may be able to do this because he's currently in his fifth year of high school at IMG Academy, a powerhouse prep school in Florida. The new rule states a player can declare for the draft multiple times and is allowed to pull his name out of the draft up to 10 days after the combine. This allows the player to meet with teams and see if there's enough interest to keep his name in the draft.
Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress reports that Isaac is unlikely to be eligible because a year in prep school doesn't equate to a year removed from high school, as the NBA's rule states.
News about Jonathan Isaac declaring for the NBA Draft this spring has been circulating for a few weeks now. Unfortunately he's not eligible.— Jonathan Givony (@DraftExpress) February 5, 2016
Multiple teams reached out to NBA league office to inquire, but were told J. Isaac is not draft eligible. Does not have his diploma in hand.— Jonathan Givony (@DraftExpress) February 5, 2016
Isaac's issue is that while he's in his 5th year of high school, he's not a year removed from graduating high school. Maybe if he drops out?— Jonathan Givony (@DraftExpress) February 5, 2016
I do believe actually Isaac might have a case to be considered draft-eligible if he forced the issue, but he'd have to start that process.— Jonathan Givony (@DraftExpress) February 5, 2016
Isaac is ranked as the No. 12 player in the class of 2016 by ESPN. He's a 6'10, 185-pound forward who likes to play on the perimeter. Isaac said the early feedback he's received was that he could go between No. 14 and No. 24. He said a 2016 NBA Draft class that isn't looking as strong as the last two years is playing a role in his decision to test the waters.
Isaac is not committed to staying in the draft just yet, and may still end up at Florida State. But this is the first player taking advantage of the NCAA's new rules, which were likely created with college sophomores and juniors in mind, not fifth-year high school seniors.
Here's a recent mixtape showing off his game:
Isaac is currently projected to go No. 12 overall in DraftExpress' 2017 NBA mock draft.