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Top basketball recruits are quickly converting their potential into paper.

June 28, 2020 by  
Filed under News, Opinion, Sports, Weekly Columns

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( Many times it is difficult for the public to relate to the lives of high level professional athletes. The popular docuseries, The Last Dance, showed a glimpse of the attention, adoration, and outside pressures that NBA legend Michael Jordan faced at times from fans and media even when he migrated from one location to another while media and fans asked questions and took pictures. There are a lot of pluses with being a high level professional athlete but there is also a lot of unfair scrutiny that athletes get because sports are not viewed like normal “jobs” or “careers” as most.

Professional and collegiate athletics are also one of the most visible examples of black excellence in society as black women and black men are stars in nearly every major sport. Even high school basketball stars are as visible as ever before due to social media and the multitude of developmental camps and leagues that are meant to develop and showcase basketball talent. The year 2020 might be a breakthrough year for top college basketball recruits in taking power into their own hands and choosing to gain some financial stability over the college experience.

Since the 2006 NBA Draft, basketball players of any nationality who complete athletic eligibility at a U.S. high school cannot declare themselves eligible for the draft unless they turn 19 no later than December 31 of the year of the draft and are at least one year removed from the graduation of their high school classes. International players, defined in the NBA’s collective bargaining agreement as non-US nationals who did not complete athletic eligibility at a U.S. high school, must turn 19 or older in the calendar year of the draft, up from 18. It’s been so long that high school players have been ineligible to enter the NBA Draft that is easy to forget that former prep-to-pro success stories like Lou Williams and C.J. Miles have carved out lengthy NBA careers beyond LeBron James and Dwight Howard, who were both number one overall picks in their respective NBA Drafts. Since top flight high school basketball seniors have not been able to enter the NBA, some have bided their time for a year in college and become “one-and-done”.

Highly touted high school senior Jalen Green is going against the grain of attending college for a year by joining the NBA and G League’s development program for the 2020-21 basketball season. He will be paid approximately $500,000 and be provided a one-year development program outside of the minor league’s traditional team structure. Green is the top prospect in the 2020 ESPN 100. His decision seemed to be precursor as former Michigan five-star recruit Isaiah Todd and former UCLA commit Daishen Nix also skipped the college experience in favor of the new G League initiative a couple of months ago. It is important to mention that the contracts for these young men are expected to include financial incentives for games played, completing community events and attending life skills programs coordinated by the G League’s oversight of the program, according to sources.

The NCAA has tried to fight against the increasing notion of their taking advantage of the hard work and abilities of college athletes by developing new name, image and likeness, or “NIL” compensation. There are a lot of complications and planning in getting a NCAA model that will appeal to all parties involve so the NCAA will avoid seeing high-end basketball talents like Jalen Green and Isaiah Todd decide to skip college. The decision by those young people and their families is understandable considering a six figure contract is hard to turn down straight out of high school and especially if it can lead to millions of dollars two years later should those young people be chosen in the first round of the NBA Draft.

Staff Writer; Mark Hines

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