Getty Images

MILWAUKEE -- On the opening day of men's March Madness, the NBA announced that it is shutting down the G League Ignite at the conclusion of this season. The developmental program was founded in 2020 as an alternative path to the NBA for graduating high school seniors, and offered players paychecks and a chance to compete against professional competition. 

It was created just as Name, Image and Likeness (NIL) rights were getting off the ground in the NCAA. While there was certainly an avenue for something like the Ignite to exist at that time, that is no longer the case. During All-Star Weekend, NBA commissioner Adam Silver hinted at this decision, saying the league would "reassess" the Ignite's future. 

"The decision to end the program comes amid the changing basketball landscape, including the NCAA's Name, Image and Likeness (NIL) policy and the advent of collectives and the transfer portal," the league stated in a press release on Thursday. 

Since 2020, 10 players from the G League Ignite have been drafted into the NBA, including top-three picks Jalen Green and Scoot Henderson. Another was Milwaukee Bucks forward MarJon Beauchamp, who was the No. 24 pick in the 2022 draft. Following the Bucks' win over the Brooklyn Nets on Thursday, Beauchamp told CBS Sports he was "a little bit" surprised that the program was shut down. 

"I'm not really sure the details or why they stopped it, but I thought it was beneficial for me coming from [junior college]," Beauchamp said. "It was a little different from the other players coming from high school. I'm not sure what really happened. It's crazy to see the end, but the four years that all the players went through, it's kind of history. So pretty cool in that way."

Beauchamp felt proud about playing for the Ignite, and felt the experience helped him make the leap to the NBA. 

"Definitely just playing against NBA players and getting the feel of the terminology," Beauchamp said. "And I feel like I learned a lot off the court too. All the programs they had for us, learning about your money and real estate. I thought it was pretty cool."

In the league's statement, G League president Shareef Abdur-Rahim spoke proudly about what the Ignite were able to accomplish in just four years.

"Four years ago, we started Ignite to fill a void in the basketball landscape, and I'm proud of the contributions we were able to make to that ecosystem," Abdur-Rahim said. "With the changing environment across youth and collegiate basketball, now is the right time to take this step. I want to extend my sincere gratitude to general manager Anthony McClish, head coach Jason Hart and their staff and to each player who wore an Ignite jersey. As ever, the G League's commitment to developing top NBA talent and helping players achieve their NBA dreams is unwavering."

Currently, the G League Ignite have three players, Matas Buzelis (No. 9) and Ron Holland (No. 13) and Tyler Smith (No. 26), who rank in the Top 40 of CBS Sports' prospect rankings for the 2024 NBA Draft. If all three players end up getting drafted in June they will be the last crop of players to get selected from the Ignite. 

The Ignite will conclude their season on March 28.