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NBA invites CJ Elleby to its draft combine

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If there is one, that is.

Washington State v Colorado Photo by Leon Bennett/Getty Images

Washington State Cougars star CJ Elleby has been invited to the NBA Draft Combine, the school announced today — another piece of the puzzle for him to consider as the junior-to-be prepares to make a final decision on whether to remain in the draft or return to school.

It’s obviously quite prestigious for Elleby to be among the 60 or so players invited — he’s the first Coug to earn that honor since Klay Thompson following the 2011 season. Players are invited after a nomination process by NBA teams, which means Elleby is likely on multiple teams’ radars. The invitation also puts him in the ballpark of the number of players selected in the two-round draft, which would seem to make him a serious candidate to be picked.

However, there also are a couple of weird wrinkles here, starting with the fact that there is no actual combine scheduled, and it’s extremely questionable whether there will even be one in advance of the NBA Draft on October 16. If it does happen, it’s believed that it will happen within a couple of weeks of the draft, but people in the know seem pessimistic about that.

Elleby, though, only has until Monday to decide whether he wants to remain in the draft. While the NBA’s withdrawal deadline is much closer to the draft, the NCAA has mandated that a player has to withdraw by August 3 in order to retain his college eligibility. So, unless the NCAA decides to push its arbitrary deadline back (again), Elleby will have to make a final decision about his eligibility in the next six days — long before any theoretical combine would take place and without actually having been able to work out for any teams.

That would seem to be an awfully tough decision, unless Elleby is getting a draft guarantee from a team. If Elleby does choose to come back to school, he’ll be joined by a loaded recruiting class that is expected to help the Cougs make a push for their first NCAA tournament berth since 2008.

(Presuming there’s a season at all.)