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- A projected Top-10 NBA draft pick is skipping college to play in the G League, the highest profile player to ever do so.
- If he succeeds, he could inspire other top young basketball players to follow in his stead.
- This announcement comes at a time when college basketball and the one-and-done policy is more controversial than ever before.
One highly touted young player basketball just made a decision which could have massive ramifications for both college and professional basketball, as reported by Yahoo’s Shams Charania.
McDonald’s All-American Darius Bazley, who is a projected Top-10 pick in the 2019 NBA Draft according to Yahoo, has decommitted from Syracuse and will instead sign a professional contract with the NBA G League.
“I’m self-motivated because I know this is what I want to do for the rest of my life. This is how I want to make a living. This is how I want to provide for my family and provide for my love of basketball. I’m not playing any games with this. I’m attacking this straightforward,” Bazley told Charania.
This decision comes at a fascinating time in the basketball world. A massive scandal is unfolding in college basketball, one that has brought renewed criticism towards both the unpaid model of college athletics and the NBA’s one-and-done policy. LeBron James has said that he feels the G League should be a viable alternative for top prospects, and the NBA is considering changing its approach towards young players.
Up until now, top high school basketball players have almost universally chosen to play college basketball instead of going to the G League. No one with the pedigree of Bazley has made the same decision.
If Bazley succeeds in the G League and goes on to be a lottery pick in the NBA Draft or has a successful rookie season, he could inspire other top young players to follow his path, just as Kevin Garnett did when decided to bypass college altogether and go straight to the NBA over twenty years ago.
Of course, college basketball will always be able to offer players something the G League can’t. It can provide a higher media profile before a player’s NBA career begins, or the allure of playing in a Final Four or for a historic blue blood program like Duke. And the G League currently only offers a maximum salary of $26,000 (credit to SB Nation for that figure), a relatively paltry sum compared to the NBA.
Still, the current one-and-done setup is rife with problems (just ask Ben Simmons) and a viable basketball minor league could be the antidote to a lot of those problems.
And Bazley is happy to lead the way by example. As he told Charania, “Someone has to start the fire – and I believe I’m going to do that.”