NBA Draft

New G-League Program Offers “Professional Path” to Top Recruits


Recently, the G-League announced a new “professional path” for high profile high school recruits. Starting in the summer of 2019, the G-League will offer $125,000 contracts to elite players who are over 18, but not yet eligible for the NBA Draft.

Some are very skeptical of how successful this new program can be. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski sums it up perfectly:

“[The G-League is] full of early connecting flights, long bus rides [and] small gyms”. High major college basketball, on the other hand “has the trappings of exposure, packed houses, and private jets”.

Not only is their little glamour for the players, but it seems as if their is little value for NBA teams as well. The way the program works is elite players will sign deals with G-League teams and develop there throughout the season. The following season, however, the players will submit their names into the NBA Draft. The teams that sign the elite prospects do not retain the rights to them. The professional path can in fact be counterproductive, as it is developing talent for your competitors.

Others, however, think the G-League pro path will directly compete with the NCAA. What makes the new program so enticing is not the paycheck, but the ability to sign marketing deals. The elite players are able to profit off of their own likeness, unlike in the NCAA. We can already see recruits straying away from college basketball. Take Darius Bazley for example. The former Syracuse commit backed off his pledge to play for the Orange, instead wanting to develop in the G-League. Bazley, however, decided to privately train for the upcoming NBA Draft. A fringe top 10 recruit, Bazley recently signed a $1 million deal with New Balance. This “internship,” as they are calling it, shows that their is in fact major money behind young stars marketability. One can only imagine the contracts more famous players such as Zion Williamson and RJ Barrett could have gotten.

While the new rule has the potential to offset college basketball, I don’t think it will. The tradition, the nationally televised games every night, and the chance to be coached by hall of famers are all too much for high school kids to pass up. The new program is an interesting development, but college basketball should be safe. For now.

About Taylor Perlman

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