Basketball Society’s Brandon ‘Scoop B’ Robinson talks NBA free agency on ESPN. Press Play Below To Listen!
Well…it’s about time! The NCAA got something right!
Last week, the NCAA made drastic rule changes that now allow elite high school basketball players to be represented by agents that are NCAA certified.
Additionally, top prospects who enter the NBA Draft and go undrafted can return to school.
As per Sports Illustrated, the NCAA reported $821.4 million in revenue from television rights and $130 million in ticket sales for the Division I Men’s Basketball Championship.
This NCAA’s decision silently acknowledges that the NCAA is a business and recognizes that amateur players are subcontractors within that business. As a result, it safeguards the NCAA and its top recruits who aren’t necessarily going to school for an education, but instead are biding their time under the current mandate that prevents them from going to the NBA right out of high school.
After the NCAA’s ruling last week, the NBA was on the fence. “We will review the NCAA’s planned reforms and continue to assess, along with our players’ association, the potential for any related NBA rules changes,” said NBA spokesman, Tim Frank.
Currently, the NBA’s collective bargaining agreement states that a player must be 19 years old or one year removed from their high school’s graduating class to the enter the NBA. “If you’re just going for one year, it ain’t really benefiting you,” former high school standout, Lenny Cooke, a former nationally ranked high school player told me on the Scoop B Radio Podcast.
Fifteen years ago, Cooke’s name ring bells like Sunday’s at 12 o’clock alongside future NBA All Stars, LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire. Cooke declared for the 2002 NBA Draft and went undrafted.
“I feel like when you making these kids go to school before they put their name in the draft they should have to do at least 2 years instead of one,” said Cooke.
Since 2006, the preps-to-pro process has been prohibited by the NBA. It’s widely known in basketball circles that the NBA is going to again allow 18 year old high school graduates to enter the NBA Draft. While Kwame Brown and Eddy Curry are considered draft busts, Kevin Garnett, LeBron James and Kobe Bryant are NBA Hall of Famers and successes to that former process.
Some have worked around the collective preps to pros system and been successful.
Brandon Jennings, the youngest player in NBA history to score 50 or more points in a game, was drafted tenth by the Milwaukee Bucks in the 2009 NBA Draft. Just one year earlier, Jennings graduated Oak Hill Academy in Virginia and was headed to the University of Arizona. A NCAA clearinghouse uncovered inconsistencies with his SAT scores and grades and as a result, Jennings took his talents overseas, playing for Virtus Roma in Italy.
Think Gucci, think Pasta, think the Leaning Tower of Pisa and hoops? Nah, this wasn’t a paid vacation.
“He went to Rome and practiced with older and stronger people four to five hours every day,” longtime Nike sneaker exec, Sonny Vaccaro told me about Jennings.
Praised for getting Michael Jordan to sign with Nike and Kobe Bryant and Tracy McGrady to Adidas, Vaccaro advised Jennings to head to Italy. “It makes you a better professional,” he said. “He’s not playing against kids, he’s playing against grown men.”
Jennings’ path worked. But then, consider Jeremy Tyler.
In 2010, the San Diego, CA high school student decided to forego his senior year of high school, play basketball in Israel and develop his game before declaring for the 2011 NBA Draft. Tyler played 10 games, averaged 2 points and 1.9 rebounds in 7.6 minutes of action before leaving Israel’s Maccabi Haifa, citing personal reasons. While he did get drafted and bounced around a multitude of teams overseas and in the NBA, there are student-athletes who aren’t talented like Tyler, who may decide to do the same thing.
What message does this send?
Today’s hoops culture blurs many lines. By eighth and ninth grade, players know their worth because they get plenty of exposure through social media and articles written about them.
As a result, Drake’s “know yourself, know your worth.” advice on his 0 to 100 song is the anthem to every hooper looking to be the next best thing.
Insert LaVar Ball.
Controversy sells. Since launching his $500 sneaker last spring with his son, Los Angeles point guard, Lonzo Ball, LaVar Ball has been a polarizing figure in sports. Challenging U.S. President Trump on national television and telling Fox Sports 1’s Kristine Leahy to “stay in your lane,” free press led to this summer’s launch of the Junior Basketball Association.
While some doubt the impact in its early stages, the JBA is creating an alternative to the NCAA. The league allows high school and junior college players the ability to play professionally and earns $3,000 per month, 60 percent of their jersey sales and other endorsement deals.
“I have nothing but respect for him, he knows what he’s doing,”Indiana Pacers guard, Aaron Holiday told me on the Scoop B Radio Podcast.
Entrepreneurship and ownership seems to be the name of the game. LaVar Ball’s sons, Li Angelo and LaMelo are gainfully employed by the league. It seems that Ball is doing whatever he can to get them to the NBA by showcasing their skills in his current league and by both sons playing.
This past weekend, the Ball brothers led Los Angeles to the first-ever Junior Basketball Association championship with a 132-121 victory over Seattle in the inaugural title game at Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario, California.
LaMelo, 16, committed to play at UCLA at the age of 13. He and his family later scrapped those plans so that he and his brother, could instead play basketball for Lithuanian club Vytautas Prienai–Birštonas.
Concerns on his NCAA eligibility arose after the release of his signature, Melo Ball 1 sneaker via the Big Baller Brand. His father claimed in September that he was willing to have him skip college, which he ultimately had to do after signing with an agent and playing basketball overseas.
Hoop dreams are nothing new, heck they made a movie about it.
However, 24-hour news coverage has forced the NCAA to create a PR blitz in protecting themselves. The NCAA makes a ton of money and they want to continue to do so, so shifting responsibility and shining it back on the NBA and its future players is the only way that they can save face.