Should pay the NCAA top players

College system is under pressure : US sport is threatened with lasting changes

Jalen Green won't appear in the NBA professional basketball league for the first time until October 2021 under normal circumstances, and yet the 18-year-old is already one of the more influential players in the league's history. Green is considered to be one of the greatest talents in US basketball. And he is the first player after high school who decided against going to college and for the newly created talent program of the NBA and its training league, the G-League. The second teams of the NBA teams have been playing in the for years. There primarily talents and professionals are used who have no place in the NBA to recommend themselves for higher tasks.

Now the G-League could not do much less than change US basketball forever. The reason for this is a year-long dispute between college athletes and the college sports association, the NCAA. The college basketball players are not allowed to earn a penny, while the colleges or television companies turn over millions of dollars from the services and marketing of the players.

Better to gamble abroad for money than go to college without a salary

Some top talents have therefore preferred to go abroad to college in recent years. In 2019/20, two of the greatest US talents played paid basketball in the Australian league. The background to this is that the rules of the NBA prohibit players from switching from high school directly to the NBA. The players have to put in a stopover, so to speak. “These players shouldn't have to go anywhere else for a year to develop. They should be part of our development system, ”says Shareef Abdur-Rahim, the President of the G-League.

It is now offering young talents a deal: For a handsome salary of 500,000 US dollars, they can become part of a newly created team in Los Angeles, which is looked after by experienced NBA coaches and ten to twelve test games outside the regular G-League schedule against other G-League teams.

In addition, the NBA and G-League cover the costs of college education, which the players can compete on the side or later. The NBA would like to bind the players to itself at an early stage, but the players can train under NBA conditions and get used to the circumstances before they officially enter the league. “Everything has been planned and set up so that players like me can be successful. I think I made a good decision, ”says Jalen Green. Another promising player, Isaiah Todd, followed suit a short time later. Other top talents are likely to follow the same path over the next few years.

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The strategic move by the NBA is putting college basketball under enormous pressure, and it could become significantly less relevant in the years to come. College sport continues to thrive on its tradition in the USA, where it is a cultural asset. In the past few years, however, too many players had the feeling that they were selling themselves below their value, especially since the very good players left their university for the NBA after only one year.

Jalen Green's decision triggered a moderate earthquake. The structure of US sport could change forever, especially if the NFL professional football league were to rely on a similar model in the future. This process is already in full swing in basketball. How successful he will be will also depend on how players like Jalen Green develop in this system. “There will be a lot of pressure. But I can handle that. Hopefully everything will go well and many more players will choose this path in the future, ”he says.

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