In November of 2017, a young man named Darius Bazley, then a senior at Princeton High School in Cincinnati, signed a letter of intent to play college basketball at Syracuse University.
Nearly five months later, after he had played in the McDonald’s All-American Game, he announced he no longer wanted to join the Orange. Instead, he would enter the G League, the official developmental league of the NBA.
“I see most guys now are spending time in the G League even after they went to school and the draft,” Bazley told Yahoo! Sports this past March, “so this gives me a chance to accelerate the process.”
Are you with me so far?
Well, no longer eager for action or hot for the game, Bazley decided five months after that he no longer wished to spend the 2018-19 season in the G League and instead would train privately in advance of the 2019 NBA Draft. And then, this week, it was announced he would sign an endorsement contract with New Balance and serve as a company intern.
MORE: NBA put itself first in decision to battle colleges for talent
Given that he’s run through four of them in less than a year, it appears this is a young man who left high school with a lot of options. Not so, according to his agent, Rich Paul.
“We’re talking about a system here that has been broken for a long time. And these kids and the families need options,” Paul said in an appearance on ESPN’s “The Jump” program. “And for me, I come from the athletes’ side where I’m always trying to find out: How do I do what’s best for the athlete? Not necessarily for me, per se.”
Agent Rich Paul tells us he got an apology phone call from Syracuse Coach Jim Boeheim this morning – we discuss that, why NBA prospect Darius Bazley is skipping college, and what Rich’s concern level is over the Lakers as he drops in on #TheJump. pic.twitter.com/Mzij7sFISe
Let’s see. There’s the option for a top basketball prospect leaving high school to play in college, for however long he wishes to be there. There’s the option to play professionally overseas. There’s the option to play professionally in the G League. There’s the option to put in a year in prep school. And there’s the option to train privately and forgo public competition.
Players have been drafted into the NBA after following every single one of these paths. Every one. How many options does a prospect need, exactly?
It is to Paul’s credit that he arranged a lucrative deal for Bazley that also figures to allow him to gain some knowledge of the athletic apparel business. But he’s also being absurdly disingenuous when he complains about a lack of “options” for prospects and that for a player in Bazley’s position, “It’s hard to find runs.”
No, they are not hard to find. He wished not to engage in them. Syracuse will have a minimum of 33 very public runs between now and March, in addition to the one completed last night against exhibition opponent Saint Rose. Teams in the G League will play 48 times after their regular season begins in early November.
Bazley chose neither, which is his right. It’s his option.
To proclaim the system “broken” because of the one option unavailable to Bazley is ludicrous. The system in place helped transform a league that was doing just fine into one of the most lucrative sporting businesses on the planet. All 30 teams are considered to be worth $1 billion, and franchise values have tripled over the past five years, according to Forbes.
MORE: Ending one-and-done ignores its impact on game’s growth
The system — meaning the NBA Draft age limit — produced 11 of the 28 players selected for the 2018 NBA All-Star Game. Of all the “preps-to-pros” prospects who followed Kevin Garnett’s lead after he entered the draft out of Chicago’s Farragut Academy, only eight were chosen for a single All-Star Game.
The reality is if there were no “one-and-done” rule, Bazley might have entered the NBA Draft last spring and been evaluated based on his performances against meager high school competition. He was ranked the No. 17 player in a relatively unimpressive high school class. Anfernee Simons, who was rated the No. 7 player, was chosen with the 24th pick by Portland, where he has yet to appear in a game. So Bazley almost certainly would not have been a lottery-level selection.
He likely would have wound up assigned to a G League team by whatever franchise selected him. Which means Bazley would have been right in the place where he and/or his representatives concluded he was not ready to compete.
Sorry, but we’re running out of options here.
Source: Read Full Article