New NBA program allows athletes to skip college

AJ Blevins 

ablevin2@uccs.edu  

     Last season, the NBA announced that they would now allow certain physically and skillfully capable athletes to choose not to attend college and instead sign a contract with the G League.  

     The first player to decide to go this route and enter what the league is calling the “Professional Path Program” was Jalen Green.  

     Green was ranked ESPN No.1 basketball recruit in 2020 and made the decision to sign with the G League Ignite. With this agreement, the players are given a six-figure contract. Green’s contract is  around $700,000, without factoring in the endorsement deals that he would also receive.  

     This raises the question: Would top recruits make the decision to not attend college and take that six-figure contract from the G League? Obviously, many things play into this, like whether the athletes are considered for the opportunity at all. 

     The overwhelming answer for these young adults would be that they want that contract. Not only are they receiving a six-figure contract, but by entering the G League, they are also proving they can play with top level athletes, giving themselves a much better chance to actually be drafted into the NBA.  

     Following the NBA, new leagues have also been created to foster similar programs. The most notable is a league created by social media page Overtime. Overtime has a little over 5 million followers and is known for covering all basketball content but mostly helps top high school recruits get noticed.  

     The Overtime Elite League follows a similar format to the NBA, but once players have signed with the league, they completely forfeit their eligibility to play high school or college basketball. This league does not have as much money to pay athletes but will award them with a guaranteed minimum salary of $100,000. To go along with this, if the players of this league decide not to follow an athletic career, the league will pay them up to $100,000 toward college tuition. 

     While these new programs provide beneficial opportunities to young athletes, it is also a controversial topic because of how this could affect college sports.  

     With these top athletes making the decision to not attend college, college basketball may not have as many top recruits. This could lead to less viewership and less money for the NCAA, which could see a complete dismantle of college basketball. 

Jalen Green, photo courtesy of theathletic.com