By now, you’ve heard about the NBA G-League initiative announced last week that would allow elite prospects to play in the G-League for one season for $125,000 instead of going to college. The option will be available starting with the 2019 recruiting class, so ESPN interviewed five prospects and/or their families about it, including Isaiah Stewart and the father of Matthew Hurt, two of Kentucky’s top targets.
Hurt’s father likened the year in the G-League to trade school.
“My first reaction was I’d like to hear more,” Richard Hurt, father of top-10 recruit Matthew Hurt, told ESPN in a phone conversation. “In terms of what this would involve. And who it would potentially involve. It’s different. Now is it intriguing? There are some things that are intriguing about it. It’s not the money. It’s the opportunity to focus solely on what your craft will be. Similar to what a trade school would be.
“Matthew has aspirations to play in the NBA. If this moves him closer to that, it’s something he would have to evaluate. I am a pretty big proponent of the college experience, but ultimately this decision will be Matthew’s. People ask me all the time. ‘What does Matthew want to study?’ Basketball is what I say. There is something to be said for being singularly focused on what you can do to make the NBA.”
Meanwhile, Stewart said the G-League option is not for him.
Isaiah Stewart, the No. 4 prospect in the ESPN 100, doesn’t appear to be as curious about the possibility, telling ESPN’s Jeff Borzello that it “is pretty cool that they’re at least installing an option for high school players that doesn’t want to do college and go straight to the pros,” but adding that for him personally “my eyes are set on college,” and that the G League option is “never a thought that crossed my mind.”
On Sunday night, John Calipari said he believes the G-League initiative will actually help the program because the players who will take advantage of it aren’t Kentucky material anyways.
“Well I talked about it and if it’s what they say three or five guys, and that’s it, I don’t think it affects us. As a matter of fact probably makes us better. The kids that come here are kids that want the competition and want to get better. They’re not going somewhere so that they only gotta shoot all the balls. They don’t come here. I think this may even separate us some. So I’m not worried about it.”
“I looked at it and said, this is going to help us. We weren’t getting those guys anyway. They weren’t going to come here, the guys that would do that. The guys that come here, they come here for a reason.”
Calipari visited both Hurt and Stewart earlier this week. Something tells me they both heard similar speeches on the matter.