A top college basketball recruit in the country has decided to skip a step all together, in a move that potentially could change a high schooler’s journey to the NBA forever.
Jalen Green, the potential first-overall pick in the 2021 NBA Draft, elected Thursday to sign with a brand-new G-League development program, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and The Athletic’s Shams Charania, who were on top of the story all day.
Green’s deal is expected to be in the range of $500,000 — but not topped out there, with the opportunity to make endorsements or money from public appearances.
Unlike many other NBA prospects, Green will be able to profit off his name, likeness and talent all while preparing for the next step.
This “reshaped NBA professional pathway program,” as Wojnaroski called it, will compensate elite prospects and provide a “one-year development program outside of minor-league’s traditional team structure.”
Per Charania, it will be in Los Angeles. And Green is the perfect five-star recruit to spearhead this initiative. And his contract includes a full scholarship if he wants to obtain a degree.
“I wanted to get better overall and prepare myself for the NBA because that’s my ultimate goal,” Green told Yahoo Sports’ Chris Haynes. “Everything was planned out right and set up for me to succeed. I think this was a good decision at the end of the day. I’m still going to be able to go back to college and finish school. So, it’s not really that I’m missing out on college because I can go back and finish whenever I need to. School is a big thing in my family.”
It’s not the first time a potential future lottery pick decided to pass on college basketball, like LaMelo Ball or RJ Hampton who played overseas this year. But instances like those have motivated the NBA to keep these guys in the United States, if possible.
“That’s a real program that the NBL has,” Shareef Abdur-Rahim, G League President, told ESPN. “It’s appealing. We have kids leaving the United States — Texas and California and Georgia — to go around the world to play, and our NBA community has to travel there to scout them. That’s counterintuitive. The NBA is the best development system in the world, and those players shouldn’t have to go somewhere else to develop for a year. They should be in our development system.”
Without the limitations imposed on NCAA atheltes, Green may have started quite the trend.
His training will include professional coaching, working with top players and veteran G Leaguers to develop and play against other G League teams, foreign national teams, and NBA academies throughout the world in exhibitions, per reports. All while getting the necessary mentoring for a career in the NBA.
This developmental team concept has been in the works for a few years, and is announced at an interesting time. Whether this catches on as the new status-quo for league-bound players is to be determined, depending on how Green handles it.
“It’s going to be a lot of pressure, but at the same time, I think I’ll handle it well,” Green told Yahoo Sports. “I’ve been handling the attention since the ninth grade, so I’m pretty used to it. I got a small circle that keeps my head right. I think I’ll be fine. Hopefully, everything goes right so players can take this route in the future.”
The 6-foot-6 shooting guard from Fresno, Calif. plays for elite basketball high school Prolific Prep in Napa.
Thumbnail photo via Patrick Gorski/USA TODAY Sports Images