The NBA's G League will soon offer an alternative choice to playing college basketball for elite prospects that could threaten to significantly decrease the existence of the one-and-done player.
According to ESPN, the G League, the NBA's developmental league, is creating a new venture available to elite American basketball prospects that will serve as a one-and-done alternative. The opportunity for said prospects will include "Select Contracts" worth $125,000 beginning in the summer of 2019 to elite prospects who are at least 18-years-old but not yet draft eligible.
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It will target recent or would-be high school graduates who otherwise 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 towards facilitating and accelerating their transition to the pro game," [league president] Malcolm Turner said.
Elite high school prospects for years have elected to sign with college programs, fulfilling their NBA Draft requirements by being one season removed from high school in order to become draft eligible. This new route, however, would allow those prospects to cash in -- most importantly, legally -- while providing a path to becoming a pro in the NBA's developmental system.
NCAA president Mark Emmert said the G League's plan could be a viable option for some prospects not interested in going to college.
"We appreciate the NBA's decision to provide additional opportunities for those who would like to pursue their dream of playing professionally, Emmert said in 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."
The NCAA in April formed a Commission on College Basketball chaired by Condoleezza Rice which subsequently formed recommendations to clean up the sport in response to the federal government's ongoing interest in weeding out corruption. Those recommendations, however, don't bend the amateurism model or provide monetary gains for players -- particularly those who provide significant value such as elite prospects, although the extinction of the one-and-done was recommended. The G League's alternative path could provide what those prospects may choose to pass on in the NCAA, and offer a salary more commensurate with their value.
Still yet, the NCAA may provide a route the G League simply cannot: An opportunity to get an education. A scholarship's value is nowhere near the real value of a college player, especially for elite prospects, but there's a non-monetary value of being a legitimate star in the NCAA and becoming the face of a major college program.
All the while, the NBA's age limit could swing which direction players ultimately choose down the line. It's possible by 2022 the age limit changes, affording players the opportunity to jump straight from preps to the pros, but as things stand now, players must be at least 19-years-of-age or a year removed from high school to enter the NBA Draft.