Two weeks ago it was announced that top 2021 prospect Jalen Green chose to bypass the college experience and NCAA exploitation, in favor of joining the NBA’s G-League for one year, $500K. Green is not going alone as former Michigan commit Isaiah Todd is joining him in this potential game changing decision. Just two days ago another top recruit decided to follow the trend. UCLA’s 5 star recruit Daishen Nix, decommitted from the college, electing to join Green and Todd in the G-League.
This isn’t the first time top recruits have bypassed the NCAA in favor of making money for their gap season before entering the NBA Draft. LaMelo Ball and R.J Hampton, two of the projected top 10 picks of this years draft, elected to play overseas in Australia.
So in back to back years, the NCAA lost elite talents because players were not down to be exploited. I don’t think this is a trend that will die out anytime soon. In fact, I believe this will become the new norm for the elite of elites coming out of High School.
Of course the G-League will have to prove proof of concept. The coaches and management need to develop and successfully hold the attention of these kids, but it shouldn’t be hard. Throwing $500K at these 18 year old kids, as opposed to a dorm room and a semester of basic math, should be a no brainer for most kids.
The real issue all of this boils down to is that the NCAA doesn’t compensate their athletes with pay. Colleges exploit these kids while making millions of dollars each year. Whether it is the age of social media, or just more viable options, these kids are taking alternative paths to the NBA and I can’t applaud them enough.
As of yesterday, the NCAA announced that they will begin to allow players to make money off the use of their likeness. It is a small victory for the student athletes, but an important one. The NCAA should not receive any praise for the decision because it took them being backed into a corner, and talent leaving, for them to own up to the fact that they’ve been wrong for decades.
There is no saying if the G-League will become the new norm, as it will take years to prove its concept. But this is the first time the NCAA has felt threatened. When big corporations are threatened, the only winners are the workers, or in this case the players. More options allow each individual to take their own path, without restrictions. Depending on the success the G-League has with these top talents, we may see a scenario where the NBA completely lifts the one-year out of high school restriction. They may resort back to the days of talents like LeBron, Kobe and Garnett entering the league directly after their senior year.
At the end of the day, if done correctly, today is a huge W for teenage athletes.