17 January 2021

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What Route Should High School Players Take?

In the past couple of days, top prospects Jalen Green and Isaiah Todd chose to forgo college and attend the NBA G-League’s Program for High School players. Although this was shocking, it is slowly becoming normal for players coming out of high school to either go overseas or join this specific program rather than attend college. One question still remains, what route is better for the player? 

Starting off with the Overseas/G-League program route, this choice throws a player straight into the fire. These young men sign with teams who consist of professionals that have been playing the game for years. Their competition is filled with veterans who have been dribbling a basketball professionally for a long time and who are just as hungry to make it to the next level as they are. By going this route, these players get paid straight out of high school. In the G-League program, players get the opportunity to sign a Select Contract, which grants a player $125,000 over the five month NBA G-League season. If a player chooses to go overseas and play professionally, a team can offer them a contract with a specific money amount attached to it. Also, people playing overseas are allowed to explore endorsement deals to garner extra money. This is ideal for players who come from lower income families.

It is certainly appealing since aside from the scholarship and the campus benefits they offer, the NCAA does not pay its players. They also do not allow players to sign endorsement deals. The experience attached to playing Overseas/in the G-League is another factor that contributes to a player’s choice. In these leagues, young players get the opportunity to play against professionals. This not only allows youthful prospects to get used to the physicality of NBA type play, but it also lets them converse with people who have been in and around professional basketball for a long time, ultimately garnering advice from some of the most accredited people out there. In college, these players are usually going against someone of the same size and same experience of themselves, therefore adjusting to the NBA is a bit harder.

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Onto the college route. Most high school players choose to attend college and play basketball rather than go overseas or sign with the G-League. This is due to a number of factors, one being publicity. The March Madness Tournament is one of the most anticipated sports tournaments of the year. Millions of people attend these games and a bunch more watch it on TV. From crazy buzzer beaters to Cinderella stories, March Madness has become a gateway for players to get drafted. If a player is able to perform greatly during March Madness, his draft stock could rise significantly. Fans and analysts of the NBA world may start talking about this specific player and just like that, the player goes from being undrafted to being a first round selection. Overseas play and the G-League simply don’t have this kind of publicity. Along with this, the NCAA offers education to these young players. Over the years, more and more ex-NBA players are seen going bankrupt. After retiring from basketball, these players either waste their money, can’t get a job or don’t know the ins and outs of investment and or saving. This causes players to want at least a year of college so that they aren’t left high and dry once their career comes to a close. Although online classes are available for students who choose to go a different route, there is nothing like actually being present in a classroom and learning hands on.

Overall, there are pros and cons to each side. Choosing to take the Overseas/G-League route, players are able to get paid straight out of high school and play against professionals. This gets them ready for the NBA both financially and physically. Taking the college route, players have the chance to make themselves known across multiple NBA platforms. With the March Madness tournament and the regular season, players are given countless opportunities to raise their draft stock. Along with this, they are given a chance at a college level education, even if it’s only for one year. Ultimately, it looks as though Overseas play and the new G-League program are becoming viable options for these young players. NBA readiness certainly helps and getting paid straight out of high school is certainly appealing. It will be interesting to see what becomes the more popular option in the years to come.

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