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UK recruits weigh in on new G-League option

Scott Jacobson / Post Bulletin

Scott Jacobson / Post Bulletin

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.



Article written by Mrs. Tyler Thompson

No, I will not make you a sandwich, but you can follow me on Twitter @MrsTylerKSR or email me.

7 Comments for UK recruits weigh in on new G-League option

  1. UKBoo
    1:38 pm October 24, 2018 Permalink

    I fear kids will start slacking off in high school because people around them are feeding them the bull that they are good enough to do the G league thing. Does anyone remember Prop 48? Today, many of the same kids that might have been prop 48 in the day are graduating early and skipping a high school year. I propose this is directly related to the mandatory one year of college rule. Kids are staying focused in high school because they have to to reach their goals. NOTHING WRONG WITH THAT. Once you give them n out, I fear these same kids will stop focusing on high school and focus on their “craft”. We could end up with a lot of kids that are not qualified, talent wise, for the G league and not qualified, school wise, for college. I think the G league should enact the same high school requirements college requires. There is nothing wrong with a profession having prerequisites. That would mean kids can’t slack in school and they always have college to fall back on if they can’t make a G league roster.

    • satcheluk
      4:32 pm October 26, 2018 Permalink

      They do not have to go to college. They can play pro in another country now. Some have already taken that route.

  2. Han
    3:09 pm October 24, 2018 Permalink

    If Hurt’s dad is on the same page as his son, I like our chances. Says his son wants to go to study basketball. Accurate/fair or not, a lot of recruits and their families talk about UK being all about preparing to go pro.

  3. wesmorgan1
    3:15 pm October 24, 2018 Permalink

    I think you’re going to see HS players with pro aspirations basically settling into three groups:

    1) Those who think they can be NBA draft picks right now – most of them won’t mess with the G-League at all.

    2) Those who think they could prove themselves to the NBA with 1-2 years of development, but don’t want to play NCAA ball – they won’t do the G-League unless/until they see a good number of players make the G-League->NBA jump.

    3) Those who think “I’m not going to be in the NBA, but I could do the G-League and make money instead of going to college” – they’ll go for this in droves.

    I wonder how many kids play international pro ball straight out of HS?

    • ukcamel
      6:19 pm October 24, 2018 Permalink

      Pretty sure that the way this is set up, you can only go to the G-League out of high school if the NBA brass think you are basically NBA-ready and would or will be a first round pick. So perhaps 8-10 high school seniors will get the offer.

      Honestly the only people I see taking this path are those that have been playing overseas for a year, maybe a couple more who really have no interest in college (Ben Simmons types) and are just waiting to be able to play in the NBA.

    • satcheluk
      4:36 pm October 26, 2018 Permalink

      The $125k contacts are only for top level talent. Top 50 recruits.

  4. UKLugo
    3:15 pm October 24, 2018 Permalink

    VERY interesting comments from the Hurt camp.