When the NCAA's deadline for underclassmen to declare for the draft or return to school passed on Aug. 3, Arkansas guard Isaiah Joe had already chosen the latter, setting Arkansas up with a potential preseason top 25 team. But a loophole in the NBA Draft's schedule afforded players with a change of heart to reconsider their choice -- and Joe has done just that by announcing he is throwing his name back into the NBA Draft pool.
"Due to the COVID-19 virus and the unprecedented cancellation of fall sports by several major college conferences in the past week, I believe it is in my best interest to forego the remainder of my college eligibility and re-enter the NBA Draft," he announced Monday. "My announcement on Aug. 1 to return to school for another season as a Razorback was made with whole-hearted excitement and sincerity, but a lot has happened in a short period of time since then to increase the uncertainty that college sports will be played this season."
The Aug. 3 NCAA deadline was set so that colleges would be able to fully take stock of their rosters before the fall semester began, it came with a caveat because the NBA set an early entry deadline for Monday. Because of the timing difference, it opened up the possibility for a player like Joe -- or others -- to withdraw from the draft and return to school, only to potentially re-enter the draft two weeks later. The option to return to school if you didn't withdraw, however, was not available for those who didn't submit that decision by Aug. 3.
Joe was one of the few underclassmen who were legitimately on the fence about whether to stay in the draft or return to school. After a surprising freshman season in 2018-19 in which he emerged as one of the best young sharpshooters in the game, his stock sunk during a sophomore season in which he battled injuries and struggled to find the same efficiency from 3-point range. But at 6-foot-5 with a smooth release, he was still considered a potential first-rounder this year because of his scoring upside and size.
The loss dings Arkansas considerably as Joe was set to be the team's top returning scorer on a roster that looked ready to make a significant leap in Year Two under Eric Musselman. Without him, the Razorbacks are officially losing their top three scorers from last season.
Musselman has stocked the cupboard at Arkansas with an incoming recruiting class -- led by potential one-and-done guard Moses Moody -- that ranks No. 8 nationally. But even with Moody's arrival and a host of impressive transfers, losing Joe is a significant blow -- and at an unfortunate final-hour -- for a team that was expected to carry some serious momentum into this season.