Utah sophomore guard Both Gach declares for NBA draft

Both Gach is going to test the NBA draft waters this spring.

The University of Utah guard, who had an up-and-down, often-enigmatic sophomore season in 2019-20, told 247sports on Monday evening he will declare for the NBA draft.

Gach does not intend to hire an agent during the NBA draft process, multiple sources told The Salt Lake Tribune. Rules on agents softened in 2019, allowing underclassmen to hire agents for the draft process. Under previous NCAA rules, players with college eligibility remaining who wanted the option of returning to college could not hire an agent.

“He’s certainly interesting from a movement standpoint,” Sports Illustrated NBA draft insider Jeremy Woo told The Tribune. “He has some intriguing quick-twitch stuff off the dribble and vertically that catches your eye immediately. He’s not close to NBA-ready and will need to show he does more than just score moving forward. I also wonder how much strength he can add with his body type, but there’s a base level of ability with him that will at least be worth a look moving forward.”

Gach’s NBA draft declaration does not come as a surprise, but more of a prudent move. Over the last handful of draft cycles, a growing number of college players are not leaving school to turn pro, but rather leaving school to get feedback from NBA personnel, taking that feedback, then returning to school to work on what they’re told they need to work on.

An NBA draft declaration technically means all options are on the table for Gach, but his initial intention is to merely gain feedback. The NBA early-entry eligibility deadline, aka the declaration deadline, is April 26. The deadline to withdraw is slated for June 15.

“Right now, particularly coming off a season that was sort of impeded by injury, it’s hard to see him getting drafted, but regardless I think he’s at least worth keeping tabs on from a pro standpoint, assuming he returns to school,” Woo said.

In a normal NBA draft cycle, Gach would have the ability to travel to team facilities, meet team personnel and participate in group workouts. With the COVID-19 pandemic ongoing, all in-person, face-to-face contact is off the table, while the NBA Draft Combine from May 21-24 is expected to be canceled. The NBA draft itself, June 25 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, is very much in doubt.

That means NBA personnel will need to conduct video-conferencing interviews and go off prior in-person scouting to evaluate a prospect. That will make this draft cycle harder, not only for Gach, but any fringe or below-fringe prospect.

“From what I saw this year, I don’t know if he is an NBA prospect,” one NBA front office executive told The Tribune. “He’s too thin, not strong, didn’t knock down shots, and I wonder how good his basketball IQ is.”

As a sophomore, Gach averaged 10.7 points and 3.6 rebounds for the 16-15 Utes. He missed four games in the middle of the season with a knee injury, sandwiched inside some moments of brilliance. A late-season awakening included 28 points on 9-for-15 shooting in 42 minutes of an overtime win over Colorado to close the regular season.

With Gach, Utah is at the NCAA maximum of 13 scholarships for the 2020-21 season. The Utes got to 13 when freshman center Matt Van Komen entered the NCAA Transfer Portal last month. If Gach were to leave and Utah had a scholarship to use, that could make the Utes a late player in the Transfer Portal or on the recruiting trail with the 2020 class.