photo credit: Ververidis Vasilis // Shutterstock
It looks like all that talk LaVar Ball did, hasn’t gone unheard. The NBA will soon give players another route into the league instead of the one-and-done path through college. Starting Summer 2019, the G League will “select contracts” worth about $125,000 to elite prospects who are at least 18 years old but not yet eligible for the NBA draft.
League president Malcolm Turner told ESPN, the players will be recent or would-be high school graduates who would have likely spent just one season playing college basketball, enticing them not only with a six-figure salary but also the opportunity to benefit from NBA infrastructure, as well as a bevy of off-court development programs “geared toward facilitating and accelerating their transition to the pro game.”
This option will also allow players to hire agents, profit off their likenesses and pursue marketing deals and endorsements from sneaker companies. These things are currently off the table for players who go to college due to NCAA restrictions, a huge controversial topic when it comes to college players not getting paid even though they are the one bringing money into the schools. For those who do sign on, players will be restricted to only one season on the contract, after this they will become automatically eligible for that years NBA draft.
“We appreciate the NBA’s decision to provide additional opportunities for those who would like to pursue their dream of playing professionally,” NCAA president Mark Emmert said in a statement. “The NCAA recently implemented significant reforms to support student-athlete success, including more flexibility when deciding whether to play professionally.”
“Obtaining a college education continues to provide unmatched preparation for success in life for the majority of student-athletes and remains an excellent path to professional sports for many. However, this change provides another option for those who would prefer not to attend college but want to directly pursue professional basketball.”
These changes the NCAA speaks on came this past August, allowing elite high school basketball recruits and college players to be represented by an agent who can help them make informed decisions about going pro and allowing student-athletes to return to school if undrafted by the NBA, pending future action from the NBA and the National Basketball Players Association.
On the NBA side, there have been talks of lower the minimum draft age from 19 to 20. NBA commissioner Adam Silver told GQ magazine that “principal argument is that it’s a restriction on players. And as a philosophical argument, I totally understand that. Of course it’s a restriction, in the same way a draft is a restriction. But our view is that it would make for a better league. You’d have more skilled players, more mature players. The draft would be better. It would be better for basketball in general. Strong college basketball is great for the NBA. And we know those players are eventually going to come to the NBA, whether they are 19 or 20 or 21.”
Crazy thing is, this is the same thing LaVar Ball did with his Junior Basketball Association, something he announced and started this year. After pulling his youngest son Melo out of high school to train him at home, LaVar announced his league that would give an alternative route into the NBA. Ball’s downfall seemed to be the amount of money he was charging for the games. Tickets starting at $40, compared to the $10 the G League charges. Ball also had the teams playing at large 10,000 seat stadiums instead of high school gyms. Why?
With multiple paths soon leading to the NBA, is this bad news for colleges? Or a great move for the NBA? Still a few questions to be answered, but I’m sure they’ll be answered over time.
Written by Clarke Jones