The NBA’s developmental G League will offer $125,000 contracts to elite high-school players in a move which could challenge the NCAA’s virtual monopoly on young basketball talent.
Starting in the summer of 2019, the G League’s ‘professional path’ programme is aimed to entice talented 18 year olds, who are looking to spend just a year in college before going to the NBA.
In addition to the six-figure salary, which is available for one season only, elite prospects can benefit from the lack of amateurism restrictions that the NCAA enforces, such as being able to hire an agent or sign an endorsement deal.
The G League’s move could impact the quality of players in NCAA basketball, however the development league’s low TV ratings, long bus journeys and small arenas represent a potential drawback to lure prospects who can gain huge national exposure during March Madness.
“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.
In April, the Condoleezza Rice-led Commission on College Basketball recommended the so-called ‘one-and-done’ rule be reformed to enable players talented enough go to the pros directly from high school. This will not happen in the NBA until 2022 at the earliest and the G League ‘professional path’ programme represents an interim move.
“The broader basketball community has called for the NBA to enhance our G League offerings,” league president Malcolm Turner told ESPN. “We believe this is an answer to that call. We believe this is a thoughtful and responsive answer.”