Amidst this global pandemic, a battle between the NCAA and G-League has arisen and while we find ourselves trapped in these ominous times, this hot basketball topic is certainly bringing some positive light. The G-League is giving top tier recruits the opportunity to get paid for their play as opposed to going to college and playing for a school, brand, and the NCAA with no compensation. I truly believe that this is one of the best moves we’ve seen in sports in years as so many positives will grow from the root of this simple change.
The G-League made major headlines when their innovation led to them securing commitments from Jalen Green, Isaiah Todd, and Daishen Nix. Each of these three players ranks in the top 15 of the 2020 recruiting class with Green arguably being the #1 player in the nation. Todd is one of the premier big men in 2020 and Nix is considered the top point guard in the class. These are three massive commitments and the G-League is sure to stock up on even more prospects in the coming days, weeks, months, years.
So... How did they do it? Each player is given a salary and these salaries vary as the G-League values each player at a different price. Reportedly, Green is getting $500k, while Nix will obtain $300k, and Todd is set to receive $250k. That’s a whole lot more money than you get for playing in college! The G-League was offering high schoolers $125k to play for them last year and they quickly realized that they were lowballing these elite talents. In addition to cash, G-League recruits will also receive free tuition! That’s a very underrated move that has been lost in all the money. Showing the families of these kids that your league cares about each and every young man's education is incredibly important. Not every player will pan out so for them to get paid to play the game they love and still attend classes is an outstanding opportunity. I am a big advocate of learning and getting that education, but I’m also a big supporter of getting paid for your elite talents and not letting other people benefit off of you. So, I’m just loving what the G-League is doing here!
The G-League plans to put all the prospects they get on the same team that will be based in Los Angeles, California. This team will learn from veteran coaches and players who will help guide these young men as they teach them the ins and outs of pro ball. This team will be playing other G-League teams, international teams, and NBA Academies throughout the world. So, these young kids get to learn from some of the best coaches and players, people that have lived a life around basketball, and wish to share their values with these absurdly talented prospects. They get to train in NBA level facilities as well as travel the world, get paid to play basketball, receive tuition, and have an opportunity to build their brand. Ah yes, the ability for these young men to build a brand and actually make money off of their name is HUGE. Take Zion Williamson for example… He couldn’t make any money off his name while at Duke, yikes. Do you know how much money this generational talent missed out on? So, for Jalen Green to be able to sell merch and make money off his name and likeness as a teenager, before he enters the NBA is another positive move in my opinion. And hey, another great move came out of this as well. The NCAA saw the G-League threatening their product, so the NCAA acted fast and announced that they’ll allow their student-athletes to make money off their name and likeness. About time... it only took another product threatening their product to make this reasonable move. Now, when does the NCAA actually begin to pay their student-athletes? We know that the NCAA can do this, but it will take another league shining over them to make some changes happen. Well, like I just stated we already saw one move quickly made by the NCAA, so at what point does the NCAA give in and pay these kids instead of continuing to manipulate and take advantage of them? It better be soon because it’s time to do what’s right.
While I’m pretty pro G-League now, this still provides positives to the NCAA, don’t get me wrong. The NCAA should be all about player development, seeing guys play multiple years at the same school, producing juniors and seniors that go pro and impact the NBA as rookies. With top tier high school talent going pro early, this will allow more college talent to develop and will allow players to receive more opportunity. In turn, the NCAA should be producing even more senior NBA draftees. A senior going pro usually means they are more polished and NBA ready from the jump as they are older and have a better understanding of the game. Hopefully, the NBA recognizes this and sees it as another positive.
Yet another neat thing to look at here is that the G-League is providing a professional outlet in America. In recent years, if you wanted to go pro out of high school, you’d be playing in Australia, Spain, Lithuania, you name it. Now you’ll be able to stay in the country you are familiar with and won’t have to stress over not speaking the same language as your peers. Your family will be able to watch you play every single day. Just another underrated aspect to consider.
There truly are so many amazing things that can root from something so simple, and here we see a truly simple move already doing wonders. It’s affording the best basketball players the chance to capitalize on their talents, letting them get paid while still receiving tuition, learning from great people while traveling the world. And of course the trickle down effect is profound as it makes the NCAA better and forces them to do good things for once! Let’s not forget how it will also give the NBA an opportunity to scout more talent at all levels too. Wow, how crazy is this? A good idea is going to do good things for a multitude of people as families will benefit greatly and leagues will be more successful. Why is it so rare for good to happen in this world?
What a beautiful concept the G-League has here and whether they know it or not, it’s going to do more good than they can imagine. I can’t wait to see this positive plan come into fruition.