LINCOLN — Nebraska basketball coach Tim Miles likes his chances to have All-Big Ten picks James Palmer and Isaac Copeland back for their senior seasons.
“I’d say it’s more likely they come back than they go (professional),” Miles said Monday.
Neither Palmer, a first-team all-conference choice, nor Copeland, an honorable mention selection, was invited to the NBA draft combine May 16-20. Participation in that event — 69 players were picked — often translates into a much higher likelihood of being taken in the 60-player, two-round draft.
The lack of a combine invite, however, doesn’t mean the two Huskers are being ignored by NBA teams.
Palmer, who averaged 17.2 points a game, worked out last Friday for Boston and Saturday for Oklahoma City. Miles said the 6-foot-6 wing will visit the Los Angeles Clippers on Tuesday.
The 6-9 Copeland, who averaged 12.9 points and 6.1 rebounds, has workouts lined up next week with Boston and Milwaukee. Miles said Cleveland and Houston among others have inquired about both players.
The Omaha World-Herald reported two weeks ago that initial evaluations of Palmer, Copeland and sophomore forward Isaiah Roby from the NBA Undergraduate Advisory Committee indicated all three were considered candidates to go late in the second round or to be undrafted.
Palmer and Copeland then officially entered the draft process without hiring agents, which means they can withdraw by May 30 and return to Nebraska without penalty. Roby chose not to file for the draft.
Casual fans sometimes misinterpret a player’s declaration for the NBA draft as proof that he won’t come back.
That isn’t true, which is why Miles said he prefers the phrase “testing the waters.”
“This is great for us,” Miles said. “It allows players to go out and test the waters for the NBA.
“For these guys to get workouts against other elite-level talent and get feedback really helps them. What’s great is it usually isn’t very different from what we’re telling them. Sometimes it depends on what you hear.”
Nebraska hasn’t had a player drafted since Big 12 player of the year Venson Hamilton went in the second round to the Houston Rockets in 1999.