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NBA G League to offer new option for one-and-done talents

The NBA will soon go after elite high school prospects with a new “professional path” to the league, according to a new story on ESPN.com.

Beginning next summer, the NBA G League will offer contracts to graduating high school seniors who are: (a) potential one-and-done talents; (b) at least 18 years old; and (c) not yet eligible for the NBA draft. The contracts will be worth $125,000 and will provide an alternate road for young stars, rather than spending a season in college basketball.

This professional alternative would allow players to hire agents, pursue marketing deals, profit off their own likeness — all things the NCAA does not allow — as well as develop in an NBA system with several off-court programs available, including the use of NBA facilities and training.

G League president Malcolm Turner told ESPN they will not pursue any players who are already committed to college basketball programs; although, if a player were to decommit on their own terms, they could then be targeted.

Should a player choose to take this route, they will be restricted to playing only one season on a G League Select Contract. They would then become automatically eligible for the next year’s draft.

[G League to offer $125K to elite prospects as alternative to college 1-and-done route]


G League vs. College: Questions every young star should ask themselves

Beginning next summer, some of the nation’s elite high school basketball stars will be given an opportunity to sign a one-year, $125,000 deal with the NBA G League, rather than going on to play college basketball. It’s a huge development in the sport and a tempting alternative to the one-and-done path.

But before the chosen prospects decide to take the money or head off to college, they need to ask themselves these seven important questions:

 

Am I physically ready to play against grown ass men?

Last year the average age of players in the G League not under an NBA contract was 25 years old. Those are grown men in peak physical shape with many years experience.

With the exception of Zion Williamson, who may not be human, 18 year olds are nowhere near ready, physically, to match up with that each and everyday. In a year’s time with proper training, maybe so, but they’ll be expected to muscle up with the big boys only four or five months removed from their high school graduation. And most of them would get beat all to hell against that physical maturity, no matter how good they project to be on down the road.

Do I want to live in a one-bedroom apartment in Sioux Falls?

Here’s a list of all of the current G League cities:

Wilmington, Delaware
Uniondale, New York
Portland, Maine
Mississauga, Ontario
White Plains, New York
Canton, Ohio
Fort Wayne, Indiana
Walker, Michigan
Hoffman Estates, Illinois
Oshkosh, Wisconsin
Washington D.C.
Erie, Pennsylvania
Greensboro, North Carolina
Lakeland, Florida
Western Conference
Des Moines, Iowa
Southaven, Mississippi
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Sioux Falls, South Dakota
Ontario, California
Prescott Valley, Arizona
Santa Cruz, California
El Segundo, California
Stockton, California
Cedar Park, Texas
Edinburg, Texas
Taylorsville, Utah
Frisco, Texas

One of those places will be home; the others will be your travel destinations.

Am I ready to ride a bus?

G League teams bus to games that are within a six-hour drive each way. In some cases, it makes for long, exhausting road trips. When they fly, they have early connector flights and always sit coach.

At a place like Kentucky, you fly private. You fly private everywhere. You also stay in four- and five-star hotels; not whatever is off the nearest exit.

Would I rather be a superstar on a basketball-thirsty college campus or the 18-year-old eating alone at the Applebee’s off I-90 in Erie because the Bayhawks have a night off?

Without going into the obvious benefits of being a John Wall or an Anthony Davis or a Devin Booker or a Tyler Herro on a college campus, just think of the significant differences in the two lifestyles for that one year before the draft.

It’s college campus versus blue-collar town. Thousands of people your age versus nothing to do.

I can’t even imagine the difference in the Tinder opportunities.

Do I want to play on national TV or on YouTube?

Last year Kentucky had more nationally-televised games than the entire G League combined. The nine playoff games and finals were only able to get a spot on ESPNU.

G League games are shown on YouTube, Facebook Live, Twitch and, very rarely, on NBATV. Now that may change with the addition of big names, but it will never compare to the audience that watches college basketball’s elite programs each and every night.

Which is better for my brand?

One of the most attractive aspects of the G League deal is the ability to capitalize on one’s own likeness and sign marketing deals. In the short term, it’s great for bringing in income.

But let’s say a player goes to Kentucky, is idolized by an entire fan base, and becomes a household name nationwide for lighting up college basketball. How much is the likeness worth then? What is the shoe deal worth then?

A lot more than it was worth right out of high school before moving to Maine to play in the G League.

What’s my backup plan?

In theory, the path from G League to NBA seems great. But in reality, it won’t be easy and many (93 percent, Calipari says) will fall short of reaching Step 2 in the path: the NBA.

If that were to happen, what’s Plan B? Straight to Europe? Keep riding the buses in the G League on a new deal for significantly less money? It’s too late to go to college to play basketball and have your education paid for, so school is out of the question. So what do you do?

Calipari has said they’ll be “roadkill,” left behind with no one to care for them. He told ESPN, “The 93 percent that don’t make it, give me the demographic of that group. We really want to do that to those kids? I’m not. I’m standing on a mountaintop saying no.” He offered up a solution, but there’s not one in place right now.

So if these players don’t ask themselves anything else, they at least need to ask themselves if they’re ready for what’s next if the NBA doesn’t want them after one year. Because it’s going to happen to a lot of them.


Sagarin Predictions: Looking ahead after the bye week

With the return of Kentucky football, we have the return of our weekly look at the Sagarin college football ratings and what it projects for the Cats in each remaining game on the schedule. By now you should know the drill; if not, let’s take a moment for a brief explanation of what you’re about to digest.

The Sagarin predictor ratings determine what the game spread should be for each game if the games were played today, based on teams’ week-to-week performance and statistics and numbers and more numbers and lots of mathematics that only Sagarin can formulate, in addition to a home field advantage. It is one of the most trusted sources in predicting upcoming games and it is right in line with the Las Vegas spread each week. (Click here for the entire Week 8 ratings set.)

Now for Kentucky’s remaining schedule, in which Sagarin gives the Cats the edge in all but one of the six games. For an added perspective, I threw in ESPN’s FPI Win Probability for each game, although it is not as confident in your Wildcats.

The Sagarin spread and ESPN FPI of two weeks ago are included to show the change since UK’s loss at Texas A&M and how the opponents fared while UK was off on its bye week. For Kentucky’s first four games, I used the Las Vegas closing line (*) because the weekly Sagarin ratings are not archived and I didn’t start this until Week 5 when things started getting serious.

GameSagarin PredictorESPN FPIActual ScoreLast Week  
vs. Central Michigan-17*88.7%Won, 35-20
@ Florida+13.5*12.9%Won, 27-16
vs. Murray State-41*99.3%Won, 48-10
vs. Mississippi State+10*22.1%Won, 28-7
vs. South Carolina-0.546.3%Won, 24-10
@ Texas A&M+521.5%Lost, 14-20
vs. Vanderbilt-15.584.9%-1484.7%
@ Missouri-243.4%-0.541%
vs. Georgia+5.522.7%+818.9%
@ Tennessee-865.6%-1072.7%
vs. MTSU-2591.8%-2693.3%
@ Louisville-1584.8%-980%

Go Cats.


Everything You Need to Know About the 2018-2019 SEC Basketball Season

SEC basketball media day is today, a moment to look at what’s ahead, while celebrating all that the league accomplished last season.

And if we’re being perfectly honest, boy did that league accomplish a lot last season. By any tangible measurement, 2018 was the single greatest season in the history of SEC basketball, with a record eight teams making the NCAA Tournament, and an argument could also be made – at least by me, anyway – that on a night-in, night-out basis it was the single toughest conference in the sport. While the league didn’t produce a true national title contender (although you could argue that with the way that Villanova blitzed through the tournament there were no true “contender” other than Nova) every team was competitive, every single night. As an example, Ole Miss – which finished in last place – beat three different teams which ended up in the Big Dance. No conference in America could claim depth anywhere close to that.

Still, as good as the SEC was in 2018, the best just might be yet to come in 2019.

The league probably won’t have the top-to-bottom depth like it did a year ago, but unlike last season (where only two teams made the second weekend of the Big Dance) there are true national title contenders at the top of the league. Kentucky, Auburn and Tennessee have the goods to make it all the way to the Final Four (and beyond), and Mississippi State, LSU and Florida also have second weekend NCAA Tournament potential as well. Alabama and Vanderbilt also should compete for NCAA Tournament berths, and Missouri and Arkansas should be tough outs.

So with media day about to kick off, it’s only fair that I put out my preseason predictions. Here they are:
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