Updated: Oct 18
On July 28, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver made a historic announcement: “With the 2nd pick in the 2021 NBA Draft, the Houston Rockets select, Jalen Green, from Merced, California and the NBA G-League Ignite.” That’s right. The 2nd pick in the 2021 NBA Draft surpassed college basketball to play in the NBA’s G-League, the NBA’s official minor league. Though Green was not a part of the pageantry of March Madness, nor did he receive national media attention playing for a major college program, Green did receive something many of his fellow draft picks could not: $500,000.
Prior to Green’s announcement to play for the G-League Ignite, Jalen was ranked the 2nd best high school basketball player in the country and was seriously considering playing college basketball (Green said he would’ve gone to the University of Memphis if not for the G-League). But money talks, and $500,000 speaks volumes to a high school kid. Apparently, so does $300,000 and $250,000, which is what former UCLA commit Daishen Nix and former Michigan Wolverines commit Isaiah Todd made playing for the Ignite.
Nix and Todd verbally committed to college programs before decommitting and choosing to turn pro. But G-League Ignite isn’t the only professional option for recruits. Other high school stars such as LaMelo Ball and R.J. Hampton skipped college and played professionally in New Zealand. Sports content brand Overtime created their own professional basketball league, Overtime Elite, and signed Jalen Lewis, the 12th ranked high schooler in the class of 2023, to a $1,000,000 contract. These pro options either were formed or became prominent options thanks to the NCAA not allowing college athletes to benefit from their name, image, and likeness.
However, as the famous Florence and The Machine lyric goes, “The dog days are over. The dog days are gone.”
On July 1, 2021, college athletes became eligible to benefit from their name, image, and likeness. As fellow Conduct Detrimental writer Jake Rubenstein wrote, this monumental change in the NCAA is already showing its affects on college football recruiting with phenom Quinn Ewers. Ewers chose to skip his senior season of high school to enroll in Ohio St. allowing him to capitalize on his growing brand.
Like in college football and every other college sport, NIL’s effects on college basketball are in its infancy. Now that college athletes can benefit from their NIL, will more top tier basketball recruits choose college over professional routes? Are universities telling recruits, this is how much you would make from your NIL if you go here? Will NIL help smaller programs attract better players or make the allure of a blueblood irresistible?
Duren is the number 1 high school basketball player in the class of 2022 and a purebred stallion who perfectly fits the mold of the modern NBA big. After watching several videos of Duren, Adebayo is the perfect comp to Duren. At 6’10 with a 7’5 wingspan, Duren is mega athletic, can defend positions 1-5, protects the rim, finishes with ferocity, and has the touch to hit floaters and fade-away jump shots with consistency.
The combination of Duren’s high floor and sky-high ceiling leaves NBA scouts and college programs salivating. He announced a couple days ago that he will make his decision on Friday, August 6. Memphis, Miami, Kentucky, the NBL, and the G-League make up his top 5 options at the next level.
Bates was the number 2 recruit in the class of 2022 and decommitted from Michigan State. The initial buzz was that he was a lock to go pro. However, he just reclassified to the class of 2021 as I was writing this article on August 4 and narrowed his list to Memphis, Oregon, Michigan State, and the G-League.
To put it simply, Bates’s player comparison is Kevin Durant. Need I say more?
As of now, nobody knows where Duren or Bates will go. Will they follow the trend started by Jalen Green, LaMelo Ball, and many others and go pro? Or will they set a precedent for future elite high school basketball recruits in the NIL era and choose college?
I have no idea. But…
“Can’t you hear the horses? ‘Cause here they come.”
Francis Carlota is a recent graduate of California Western School of Law in San Diego, CA, where he became the ABA Negotiation Competition National Champion and was the Vice-President of the Entertainment and Sports Law Society. You can reach Francis on Twitter @SluggaSports or through email, [email protected]