A seismic shift in the pathway of top high school basketball prospects to the NBA may be underway thanks to a new G League initiative that could impact Texas Longhorns target Greg Brown III.
No. 3 prospect Jalen Green and former Michigan Wolverines commit Isaiah Todd, a top-15 player in the 2020 class, are set to become the first players to participate in the one-year development program that will pay more than $500,000 and operate outside the typical structure of the G League.
With some top prospects opting to play overseas, including LaMelo Ball and RJ Hampton joining Australia’s NBL last season, the NBA wanted to find a way to keep top prospects in the country to ease scouting and have more control over their development, but had to increase compensation and assuage concerns from parents about the transition from high school to G League competition, including a lack of high-level coaching.
As a result, the league plans to focus on training and exhibition games against not only G League teams, but national teams and NBA academies, all while providing top coaching and mentorship from older professional players who would benefit from the exposure.
The league hasn’t been able to negotiate an end to the current draft model that requires prospects to spend one season playing in college or overseas before joining the NBA, so it’s now providing the first viable alternate to college in the United States.
And the impact on the 2020 class may not be finished, either — Vandegrift forward Greg Brown III, who is set to announce his college decision next week, is now the highest-rated player yet to make a decision. After the news broke about the new NBA/G League pathway on Thursday, rumors started circulating about Brown entering into talks about joining the G League Select Team.
“Everything is open for discussion with me,” Brown’s father, Greg Brown Jr., told The Chop Shop on Thursday. “Everything has to be a good fit. Everything has to align. We’re not going to make a decision to do anything haphazardly or just because somebody else did it — that’s got nothing to do with us.”
So even while Texas is surging as the team most likely to land Brown and keep him close to home for his one season of college basketball, the opportunity to make significant money, possibly sign a shoe deal, and train in a controlled environment could be difficult to pass up.
Brown’s father indicated that money isn’t a concern for the family, but the coronavirus pandemic could significantly impact the college basketball season — the G League Select Team won’t have to wait for students to return to campus to play games and may ultimately have greater access to testing. Training in a controlled environment without having to attend classes could reduce the risk of exposure.
And, ultimately, the level of coaching and increased time for development on the G League Select Team, as well as the competition in practice and in the planned exhibition games, would probably better position Brown for 2021 NBA Draft and more immediate success in the Association than spending a year in college, whether that’s at Texas or somewhere else.
Beyond the money, it’s that type of calculation that could significantly reshape the landscape of college basketball.