The Rise of the G League’s Impact on College Basketball

Mar 27, 2019; Louisville, KY, United States; View of the basketball rack with the March Madness logo during practice for the south regional of the 2019 NCAA Tournament at KFC Yum Center. Mandatory Credit: Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

When Daishen Nix announced on Tuesday that he will be decommitting from UCLA to forgo his college career and join to the revamped G League, questions arose on whether the league is the right decision for these elite athletes.

As we reflect on the Class of 2020, one thing stands out: the G League. Before this year’s 2020 class, it almost seemed customary for top recruits to attend a four-year university, but with the revamped G League, people are now wondering if skipping college to go straight to the pros is the right move. Some of the nation’s top prospects such as Jalen Green, former Michigan commit Isaiah Todd, and former UCLA commit Daishen Nix all decided to skip college and sign with the G League this month alone.

The new G League was set up in direct relation to the National Basketball League of Australia which has in the past lured top prospects with their desirable six-digit salaries. Now, with the much-improved salaries of the G League, the aforementioned trio of young stars decided to stay home and play in the states. 

Shams Charania of The Athletic reported that Green’s contract is worth approximately $500,000 while Todd can earn up to $250,000.

However, the G League doesn’t seem as glamorous to some and has received criticism from coaches such as John Calipari.

The Kentucky Wildcats basketball coach said, “My issue with the G League trying to entice players by giving them more money is not the kids that you’re getting. It’s the thousands of ninth- and 10th-graders that think that’s how they are going to make it when you and I both know it going to be two percent. We are not talking 50. It will be thousands and thousands and thousands.”

Former G League president Malcolm Turner told ESPN’s Jonothan Givony back in 2018 that the league would not go after players who have already committed to colleges.

Nix, a 6-foot-4 guard from Clark County, Nev., signed with the Bruins back in November.

“Playing in the G League is basically getting me ready for the NBA draft,” he said. “It’s just one step below the NBA.”

Jeff Goodman of Stadium spoke with an NBA general manager who said Nix’s mindset could be a “problem” because “these kids think this gets them closer to the NBA. We’ll see, but I don’t think that’s the case at all.”

Calipari would expectedly agree with this statement given his recent concerns.

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