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University of California at Berkeley big man Ivan Rabb was likely going to be a lottery pick in the 2016 NBA draft. Instead, NBA teams will have to wait another year.
The 19-year-old averaged over 12 points, eight rebounds, and one block per game on 61% shooting in his freshman year. He was one of the most highly recruited freshmen players in the country and likely wouldn’t have fallen past No. 10 in the draft, according to ESPN’s Jeff Goodman.
But Rabb recently withdrew his name from the draft, after it seemed like he was a goner, and decided to return to Cal. His reasoning was simple.
“I just wanted to improve. I didn’t just want to be in the NBA. I wanted to make sure I was ready when I got there,” Rabb told Goodman.
“I know I need to get stronger,” he continued. “I want to come back better defensively, a better shooter, a better rebounder, more comfortable on the floor. I want to be the leader. I wanted to have a bigger role.”
After speaking to several NBA players, Rabb said, “They told me there’s no rush.”
It’s an understandable move by Rabb, if not risky. If he landed on the low end of his draft projections, going 10th overall, then his starting salary would be $2.14 million, according to Goodman. Rookie salaries increase incrementally from year to year, so Rabb is missing out on a payday worth over $7 million for three years – assuming that his third-year option would be picked up by the team.
Should Rabb regress in his sophomore year, falter under more pressure, or suffer an injury, he could see his draft stock slip, and thus his potential earnings. There’s a real risk in putting off the NBA to try and improve in college.
Still, Rabb is making a move that he feels is best for him, and if all goes to plan, then it could look like a great decision a year from now.