Congrats on Jalen Green for taking the road less travelled, hell it’s the road never travelled by announcing that he will forgo any college basketball eligibility and sign a special G-League contract that should net the top high school recruit and probable #1 draft pick in the 2021 class $500,000-$1,000,000. The deal also includes a one-year development program outside of the minor league’s traditional team structure. There are several other high level high school prospects, including Isaiah Todd, in talks to ink similar deals and the fallout within the talking heads of college basketball has been in a word, fatalistic, in terms of the future of college basketball.
There should be no one that criticizes the players for taking this road but by the same token to assume that this is the end of business as usual for the NCAA is ridiculous. The College Basketball pundits said the same thing when:
- Brandon Jennings signed with Lottomatica Roma in 2008.
- Emmanuel Mudiay signed with Guangdong Southern Tigers in 2015.
- Darius Bazley signed a 1 million dollar deal with New Balance as a paid intern in 2018.
While Green’s the move is unprecedented the sentiment is age-old. The NCAA will do what it does and function as it has and if the NBA or the G-League skims some of the top talent from the NCAA the college basketball landscape will adjust. The game still remains the game. The casual fan, who strictly tunes in for star power was never a fan you were going to be able to keep anyway. College basketball is still going to be exciting and when it’s all said and done the overall level of play may actually increase. Players are more likely to stay in college longer, develop a higher level of skill and there’s a distinct possibility that the games could be become more competitive. Looking at the last 3 National Champions in College Basketball, only 3 top 10 ranked recruits were on those teams and 2 of them were on the same team (UNC 2017). At worst, losing some elite guys to the league in one way or another puts the impetus more on coaches to develop talent, find talent in other places and depend more on systems; at best the loss of talent is barely noticeable. There will always be stars in college basketball, players always rise to the occasion and the moment and as far as losing some top guys to the pros, you can’t miss what you never had.