Last week, the #1 recruit in college basketball for the upcoming season chose to bypass college and participate in a new G League program that offers prospects $500k and an opportunity to train and play against G League players. But, he’s not actually in the G League – from the sounds of it, he’s on a glorified AAU team where the payments are taking place above the table rather than below. And, in the words of our time, it’s a strong ass offer.
Our thoughts on this groundbreaking development:
- Who is Jalen Green? We follow college basketball fairly closely, but admittedly don’t follow recruiting in any real depth. Something about scouring the internet for information about 17 year olds seems a little…creepy. But, if we don’t know about Jalen Green, most people don’t know about Jalen Green. And my guess is most people won’t remember him a year from now after spending a year in obscurity. At least not compared to a year spent in college basketball, playing on national tv, and playing in the NCAA Tournament. Assuming, of course, we have one next year.
- The NBA instituted the age minimum several years ago and I’m sure they have a variety of reasons. But let’s be honest. The owners were spending a lot of money on high school kids who never panned out. So, they put this in and let the NCAA be their minor leagues and weed out the kids that maybe don’t have what it takes. Well, now, they’ve kept the age minimum and have created competition for the NCAA. Which is totally fair, but it makes you wonder what kind of draft guarantees that they might be giving these kids who decide to play for them. Don’t get we wrong, we hope Jalen Green has tremendous success. But, let’s say he struggles during this year, maybe he gets hurts, maybe he spends that $500,000 on a house, 14 cars, and a staff of 30 people. Well, how likely will he be to get drafted? And if he doesn’t pan out, what message does that send to future prospects?
- We’re sure if we really tried, we could find more information on this, but that would require actual research, which we are fundamentally opposed to here at Hangover Headquarters. That said, who else will be on this supposed team? Since it’s not going to be one of the actual G League teams, they need some additional people to join him. According to ESPN, there are only 3 recruits in the Top 50 of their rankings that haven’t committed to play anywhere. So, unless Norman Dale is coaching this team, we don’t like their chances.
- Can Lavar Ball coach the team? He’s got a proven track record of success (Never Lost!), knows the fundamentals of defense (Stay in yo lane!), and has a strong history of success with international players (I have no joke).
- If the coronavirus can’t kill college basketball, a few elite prospects opting to play professionally won’t either. Would college basketball have been better if Kobe Bryant, Kevin Garnett, Lebron James and Shawn Kemp played college basketball? Sure. Did the schools still manage to field teams, play games, have fans attend them and then have people watch the NCAA tournament? Was the NCAA tournament still the most exciting and unpredictable sporting event? Will Mike Krzyzewski just up his payments to top recruits to $500,001? Yes, yes and definitely yes.
- The NCAA legislation around Name, Image and Likeness (which is another column for another day) will also make the math more palatable for these top players who could either make $500k from the G League or spend a year in college, be on TV every game, have the brand of one of the top college programs behind them and promoting them and, oh yeah, make some money from their NIL rights. Let’s just say if Zion Williamson had taken the G League offer, he would not have earned a $75 million shoe contract prior to playing his first NBA game.
While this new option for the top high school players is an enticing option, it’s not the end of college basketball. But, if the powers that be in college basketball (and college athletics in general) stick their head in the sand and don’t adapt, then we’ll see a significant decline in the level of play of college basketball. Either way, we still have some eligibility left, and we are definitely open to a strong ass offer.