Top officials with the NBA and USA Basketball were blindsided by the NCAA's announcement of future rules changes regarding pro basketball prospects, as well as the timing of it, sources told ESPN.
The NCAA launched a commission and set of subcommittees to address the fallout from the recent FBI investigation into the college basketball industry, resulting in several policy shifts, including the assigning of responsibility to USA Basketball for something the organization had already told the NCAA it wanted no part of: selecting elite senior high school prospects who will be allowed to sign with registered agents.
USA Basketball doesn't have the infrastructure or interest in accepting the role of evaluating the nation's top prospects for selecting a yet-to-be-determined number of players who will annually be allowed to sign with agents at the end of their junior years, sources told ESPN.
USA Basketball prefers that the NBA make those decisions, sources said. The NBA already oversees the invitation process to the Chicago pre-draft combine and Portsmouth Invitational camps every spring. The NBA will be immersed in scouting the high school ranks once those players have an earlier target date for entering the draft, and if the NCAA wants to allow a select number of high school players to sign with agents, the belief is that NBA front offices would be most informed to cull a list.
USA Basketball issued a statement late Thursday afternoon saying: "USA Basketball has been working with the NBA, NBPA and NCAA since April to make sure we all do the right things for our young basketball athletes. We look forward to continuing our discussions and working together to improve and create opportunities to further the sport for everyone."
The NBA, USA Basketball and NCAA did meet and discuss these prospective changes, but the NBA and USA Basketball never believed they had come to a consensus with the NCAA on how they would move forward together on the issues, sources said.
Then the NCAA's announcement of a litany of changes came Wednesday.
"We will review the NCAA's planned reforms and continue to assess, along with our players' association, the potential for any related NBA rules changes," NBA spokesman Tim Frank said.
Several NBA officials were surprised over the presumptive and premature nature of the NCAA's rules changes, which assumed that the NBA and National Basketball Players Association will abandon the one-and-done college rule and allow high school players to enter the NBA draft. While that appears to be the direction the league and union are headed, discussions are centered on the 2022 draft as the earliest date for that change to go into effect.
Kentucky coach John Calipari, talking about the NCAA rule changes on SportsCenter, said, "None of this goes into effect until the NBA and the players' association come up with something, and I'm hearing it won't be until 2022, so we're probably wasting our breath dealing with the ins and outs of this.
"I'll give you an example: I'm here in the Bahamas, and the CEO of USA Basketball, Jim Tooley, is here and he's saying, 'Wait a minute. We deal with one of the one-percenters. We don't deal with foreign players. We're not in a position to try to say who gets an agent and who does not.'"
"There's a lot of stuff that needs to be worked out," Calipari added.