Five star recruit and McDonalds All-American Darius Bazley has made the shocking decision to decommit from Syracuse University, and start his professional career in the NBA G-League. He is the first ever five star recruit to skip college for the G-League. Other highly touted recruits have opted to skip college in the past, such as Brandon Jennings, Emmanuel Mudiay, and Terrance Ferguson, but they chose to play overseas for a year.
The 6 foot 8 small forward from Ohio is considered the 9th best player in the country according to ESPN’s Top 100 for 2018. He made the announcement on his Twitter account on March 29th clarifying his intentions to go pro by posting a picture of himself underneath the G-League logo with a caption saying “ready for the next chapter.” Bazley also spoke to Yahoo! Sports stating that “ultimately, playing professional basketball has always been my dream. It’s always going to be my dream goal, always going to be the goal until I achieve it. This is going to put me one step closer to do so.”
The NBA G-League has improved tremendously from its inception, and is now seeming to be a viable minor league option for the NBA. However, in most cases, playing overseas has helped players develop more effectively in recent years. There is more experienced competition and more opportunities to be coached up in European and Chinese leagues opposed to the G-League at the moment. Also, the minimum salary for G-League players is around $26,000, which is a far cry from a normal NBA salary. Still, Bazley will be able to be compensated for the use of his likeness, such as receiving endorsement money and maybe even earning a shoe deal.
Although some do not consider this move to be a huge deal, I think it can be major if Bazley’s decision starts a trend. Not only would it improve the quality of the G-League if more five star players joined, it would allow players the option of choosing to be paid for their craft without having to go halfway across the world to do so. Also, players won’t be trapped underneath the “one-and-done” rule that forces players to attend college to play basketball for at least a year.
This decision further adds to the controversy about whether or not student-athletes should be paid for their services, especially since many universities make millions of dollars from football and basketball. Even Mark Emmert, the president of the NCAA, has said that the NBA should improve pathways for young players to make the leap from high school to the pros. If more players like Darius Bazley make the choice to skip college in favor of professional opportunities, the NCAA could have a problem on their hands.
Featured Image Courtesy of Otto’s Grove
By Joshua Hamer