‘NCAA Is About Money’: Former NBA Champion Explains Why High School Players Are Playing Overseas and in G-League

Published 04/29/2021, 5:00 PM EDT


From the 2006 Draft onwards, the NBA put an end to high schoolers directly entering the league. They had to play at least one year of NCAA basketball before entering the big stage. But since the last few years, players are finding ways to avoid this step.

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The most famous example in recent years is Charlotte Hornets guard LaMelo Ball. After becoming a star in high school, Ball joined the NBL in Australia instead of going through the NCAA. Former NBA champion Richard Jefferson recently explained why players are making such decisions nowadays.

“I think the NCAA has dropped the ball quite a bit,” Jefferson said during an interview with YouTuber Kentrell Beecham. “Now you start to see all these competitors. The NCAA is about money. So now that they’ve dropped the ball, you see the G-League now has their own special team.”

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“There are kids are going to Australia and Europe. The business mindset of these players is changing. And I think a lot of it is because the NCAA didn’t take care of what was their product.”

For years, the NCAA has been profiting off the young college players while not even giving them a penny in return. So now with these other avenues providing earning opportunities for the high schoolers, they are now moving away from the NCAA.

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Heading into the 2019-20 season, Ball and RJ Hampton were the only big names going pro instead of joining the NCAA. But the arrival of the G-League Ignite franchise has now opened a new door. From the 2020 class, three of the top 15 ranked players: Jalen Green, Jonathan Kuminga, and Isaiah Todd teamed up at Ignite.

High school players don’t have to go away from their family into another country to play professional basketball. The Ignite team offers them a chance to play in the G-League alongside some NBA veterans and also get more attention. And of course the main attraction is the money. Green is reportedly earning over $500,000 while the others are also being paid in six figures.

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These factors could very easily push more youngsters to becoming pro, rather than going to college. At college, they also have to study but going pro allows them to focus solely on their basketball career. So unless the NCAA makes some big changes, the coming years could be harsh for college basketball.

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Aaron Mathew

1531 articles

Aaron Mathew is a sports analyst at EssentiallySports. A graduate in Mass Media from Xavier’s College, Aaron has been a part of EssentiallySports since May 2020 where he covers both NBA and NCAA basketball news, and has also covered NBA 2K. In the past, Aaron has worked at the Sports Desk of Mumbai Mirror.

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