On April 16th, the nation’s top-rated high school basketball recruit, Jalen Green, announced he’s taking his talents to southern California’s new G League Select Team.
As soon as I internalized the above Woj bomb, I texted my fellow hoop fiends expressing fear for college basketball. But as I’ve had time to consider the impacts of this decision, I believe it will positively effect both college and professional basketball in the U.S.
When the NBA implemented the one-and-done rule in 2005, its intent was to give young athletes a year to mature before submitting their names into the NBA Draft. Instead, it amplified the shadiness of college basketball recruiting. Watch HBO’s “The Scheme” for a deeper dive into this.
The NBA’s new “pathway program” should reduce the number of wiretapped recruiting conversations because elite talents like Deandre Ayton now have a direct route to six-figure compensation packages, professional coaching and training, and scouting exposure. There’s no reason pro scouts should have to fly to Australia or New Zealand to watch prospects like LaMelo Ball and RJ Hampton play. With the pathway program’s G League Select team, the NBA can now invest in the nation’s top talent and provide a smooth transition to the pros.
Outside of the financial compensation, these players will have access to life skills programs, and time spent in class and tutoring can now be replaced by time in the weight room or in the gym honing one’s craft. Whether or not the pathway program will generate a return on investment for the NBA is a different conversation, but at least they now have access to the nation’s elite prospects.
A concern for fans of the college game may be losing out on polarizing players like Zion Williamson, Kevin Durant, or Trae Young. Yes, it might dent ESPN’s ratings and revenues because the casual fan will watch less games, but that’s not the issue we’re concerned with.
One-and-done players don’t guarantee success for college programs nor do they create attachment between fan and program. Ben Simmons — who admittedly didn’t go to class at LSU — and Markelle Fultz didn’t even make the NCAA tournament. Frank Mason and Devonte’ Graham are more important to the Kansas faithful than Josh Jackson, Kelly Oubre, Cheick Diallo, or Joel Embiid. More scholarships for four-year guys is a good thing — more reps and playing time for long-term players and less year-to-year homework for fans. And with the NCAA finally thinking about its product and not its bank account, a smaller percentage of players might make the jump than you’d think.
As long as the NBA doesn’t continue poaching committed players on a widespread basis, Jalen Green’s decision is a win for the NBA and college hoops alike.
A Profile to Read:
Why is Trent Dilfer coaching high school football? One reason is the son he lost. by Les Carpenter (Washington Post)
After suffering the pain of losing his young son and being laid off by ESPN, Trent Dilfer has redirected his energy to building a high school football powerhouse at Lipscomb Academy in Nashville, Tennessee. He temporarily lived with two assistant coaches in a mansion owned by his pastor’s friend and was neighbors with Sheryl Crow. George Kittle’s dad is also on his staff. No more spoilers. This piece is outstanding, so please give it a read.
TED Talk Worth A Watch:
Adam Grant is Wharton’s top-rated professor for seven years running, and his book Give and Take is a national bestseller atop my reading list. This TED Talk gave me some much needed motivation last Monday morning, so I encourage anyone needing some to check it out. The message is one all entrepreneurs or creative-types should hear, and his story about a Warby Parker investment opportunity is hilarious.
Cinco De Mayo Drink Idea: Ranch Water
Tequila, Topo Chico, lime juice. The first time I had it was at a bachelor party in Austin, Texas. My roommate brought it back into my life this weekend, and I’m feeling both grateful and a tad bit hungover. If you’re adventurous you could even add some jalapeño to it. This is the perfect drink for your summer and Cinco De Mayo festivities.
If you enjoyed this edition of the Sunday Special, consider subscribing to the ATM: At The Minute Podcast on Apple Podcasts or Spotify. And lastly, any and all feedback is appreciated. Have a great week.