Jalen Green, the No. 1 basketball recruit in the Class of 2020, is forgoing college basketball to enter the NBA’s G-League. According to Shams Charania of The Athletic, Green is signing a deal with the G-League worth $500,000.
The G-League is working on launching a team in Southern California, one that takes in elite-level high school players and develops them for a single year before entering them into the NBA draft. For Green, a guard from Prolific Prep in Napa, California, this plan could not be any more fitting.
However, Green’s decision represents a more significant issue within the NCAA system. Due to current regulations, NCAA athletes are not allowed to profit off of their abilities. All of the revenue they bring in goes right over their heads, which is mindblowing to comprehend.
Last year, for example, New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson waa college basketball celebrity. He brought in millions of viewers to watch his games on TV, bringing plenty of revenue to Duke and the NCAA. However, since Williamson played in the NCAA, he didn’t earn a single penny. Because of this, several NBA scouts believe that taking the college route is a necessary step, even for one-and-done prospects. However, that option appears to be changing now. Lamelo Ball and RJ Hampton were two of the best high school players in the United States one year ago, both heavily recruited by top programs. However, they decided to take a different route, choosing to play in the NBL, a men’s professional basketball league in Oceania.
Although their decision was heavily questioned, their performances in the NBL have put them as projected lottery picks in the 2020 NBA Draft. Anthony Edwards, who played college basketball this year, is also a projected lottery pick. Here’s the difference: Ball and Hampton pulled in hundreds of thousands of dollars, while Edwards earned absolutely nothing. So thus arises the debate; if all top high school recruits can get paid to play professional basketball straight out of high school, shouldn’t they all take that route?
Players like Ball and Hampton are proving that the NCAA is not a prerequisite to being a lottery pick, and Jalen Green seems to be following in their footsteps. Bear in mind that this track is not suitable for everyone. Most high school prospects are not good enough to go straight to the pros, and for them, the NCAA system is necessary. But for all the top high school recruits, the pro-route seems much more appealing.
The end of college basketball?
Now, let’s visualize what would happen if more prospects followed this path. College basketball would no longer have the same attraction, as mostly mid-tier players would be participating. Players will still get drafted out of college, but most likely won’t be a lottery pick. If all of the future NBA talents are playing either in the G-League or Overseas, this may be the end of college basketball, as we know it.