Villanova forward Saddiq Bey had much to consider in the two months after he filed for early entry into the NBA draft before he finally announced Tuesday that he would remain in the draft and give up his final two years of college eligibility.
He certainly had options, like returning to the Wildcats, who to many observers are a top-10 or even top-five preseason pick and a legitimate contender for the national championship. The uncertainty fostered by the pandemic, and the fact the NBA was taking its time establishing a new draft date, made a return look appealing.
But his stock was rising in NBA draft circles. At a versatile 6-foot-8, he was one of the nation’s best three-point shooters and among the best defenders in the Big East, usually assigned to the opponent’s top scorer regardless of what position he played. He also had won the Julius Erving Award as the nation’s best small forward.
“I wouldn’t say it was one thing,” Bey said Tuesday in a Zoom conference call with reporters. “I had a lot of factors that I had to keep in mind and I think that’s what made it hard for me to make this decision earlier — being with my team, going back to school, getting my degree, competing for the national championship.
“So I think it wasn’t just one factor. It was hard on both ends. There were a lot of pros and cons. So I just think it’s the best decision for me.”
Coach Jay Wright admired the way Bey handled his deliberations.
“We didn’t have a time [from the NCAA] when these guys were going to have to make their decision, so everything was changing,” he said. “He just handled everything so maturely and patiently.
“The information we were getting, he was going to be a first-round pick, but it was hard for those [NBA] guys to give you definite information because they don’t know where they’re going to pick, and they don’t know who else is coming out. Then we had to see if they were going to have a draft.
“Then when the NBA came out with their decision of when the draft would be [Oct. 15], then we had to say, ‘Let’s look at it, we don’t know when the college basketball season is going to be.’ The decision wasn’t easy but he thought it through in every aspect and I agreed with him.”
Bey averaged a team-high 16.1 points last season and shot 45.1% on three-pointers, fourth in the nation, in helping the Wildcats grab a share of the Big East regular-season title. He is considered a mid-first-round pick in many mock NBA drafts and could climb into the lottery with a good showing in predraft workouts and the combine.
Bey will become the seventh Wildcats player to be selected by an NBA team in the last four drafts. He said he has spoken with almost all of the other six.
“I think that’s kind of what makes the bond great within our culture, that with different classes, we can talk to each other and give each other advice,” he said. “They’ve helped me along the way, give me both sides to every situation and try to make it easier for me.”
With the Villanova campus closed, Bey has been preparing at his home for workouts with NBA teams and at the combine. He has established a workout regimen.