By Joshua M Hicks (@jhicks042)
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has said in past interviews and press conferences that over time he would like to change the one-and-done rule his league has for athletes to enter it after their first year of college and consider bringing back the opportunity for 18 year olds to enter the league straight from high school.
Such a reversion looks to be on the horizon but even with that options for high level prep prospects are getting wider with each year it seems.
At one point college prospects could not come back to their schools if they so much as worked out for professional teams, now they can workout and attend the draft combine without betraying their amateur status.
And for those who don’t want to be amateurs at all past the age of 18? Well, G League President Malcolm Turner has officially announced this week that his league has been given the authority to challenge the NCAA as never before by creating a new venture that allows athletes to forgo college and straight to the professional setting, an avenue that I have always been an advocate for from an athlete standpoint.
Starting in the summer of 2019, elite high school prospects who are 18 years old but are not eligible for the NBA draft can skip the option of going to college to play in the G League, where they can develop on their skill set and get paid $125,000 salaries.
This option will help the prospects get acclimated to the NBA infrastructure as well as having the luxury of off-the-court development programs “geared towards facilitating and accelerating their transition to the pro game,” Turner said to ESPN Draft Analyst Jonathan Givony.
“The broader basketball community has called for the NBA to enhance our G League offerings,” Turner told ESPN. “We believe this is an answer to that call. We believe this is a thoughtful and responsive answer.”
Opening this option to elite prospects is one of the best things the NBA can do because of all the scandals that are being exposed and investigated on in the NCAA. Former Louisville head coach Rick Pitino is still under investigation for paying strippers to help attract athletes to the school. Kansas head coach Bill Self has been reported as having texted an Adidas consultant about making sure players of his were paid. Arizona head coach Sean Miller is under investigation for paying 2018 first overall draft pick Deandre Ayton $100,000.
Since top tier college programs are already illegally paying athletes to attend their schools, why not use the G-League for them to keep payments above board while allowing the young talents to play against professional competition and get paid within the process?
We also cannot overlook the fact that students that attend school just to go pro after a year are not getting or taking the academic portions of school serious. The most recent Rookie of the Year winner, Ben Simmons of the Philadelphia 76ers, even went public stating that he never went to class while a student at LSU, knowing that his time there would be limited.
“I’m going to the NBA next season,” Simmons said in One and Done, a documentary about his year of college that premiered in 2016. “Why bullshit if it’s not going to help me?”
As first reported by Jonathan Abrams of Bleacher Report, according to a 2016 study conducted by Shaun Harper, a researcher and professor at the University of Southern California’s Race and Equity Center, graduation rates among black athletes in the most money-driving sports at elite programs have declined in recent years.
“I actually think that one-and-done is a waste of time in college,” Harper said. “Because if you’re not there ultimately to earn a degree and graduate, I don’t know that it makes sense for one to be there at all, especially given how few graduate after six years. Why waste time having someone there in the first year or for a first year. Does that make sense?”
College Basketball Commission chair Condoleezza Rice agrees with this sentiment of athletes should be paid for their worth, especially since the NCAA is making lots of money off of these athletes.
“Elite high school players with NBA prospects and no interest in a college degree should not be forced to attend college, often for less than a year,” commission chair Condoleezza Rice told assembled media earlier this year. “One-and-done has to go, one way or another.”
An argument can be made that the lifestyle of a G-League player may not be the most glamorous style to go for. Those players play in small gyms, have long bus rides and connecting flights compared to where top tier college programs can provide sold out arenas, lots of exposure and private jets.
But the G-League option can eliminate prospects that are not focused on a long-term college plan to pursue the job of being a professional athlete and making an honest living the right way.
Joshua M. Hicks is the lead columnist of WARR