Five-star recruit Darius Bazley will become the first American basketball prospect to skip college and join the G League out of high school, setting a new precedent for young athletes. Bazley had been committed to Syracuse, but he will decommit so he can sign a G League contract upon turning 18, according to Yahoo Sports’ Shams Charania.
The 17-year-old All-American is currently projected as a top-10 pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, and as a 6’9 ball handler with playmaking skills, it’s possible that he rises even higher.
“The G League will have the most to offer, considering that is the development league for the NBA,” he continued. “I will get more out of that than going overseas. The G League is the closest thing to the NBA. I see most guys now are spending time in the G League even after they went to school and the draft, so this gives me the chance to accelerate the process. There have been a lot of successful guys who have been brought up in the G League, and I’m confident that I will be one of them.”
We have seen high schoolers forgo college to play overseas, such as Brandon Jennings and Emmanuel Mudiay, but this will be the first time that an American has skipped the NCAA system completely in favor of the NBA’s developmental league. While players still must be 19 to enter the NBA Draft, the age limit for G League players is 18.
This also means that Bazley will be paid a G League salary, rather than abide by the NCAA’s amateurism rules. G League salaries have bases of either $19,500 or $26,000. There are other perks, too, which mostly revolve around joining a system that is closely connected to an NBA franchise.
“I’ll be around NBA games, focus on my body, and focus on my development 24/7,” Bazley told Yahoo Sports. “Without having to worry about anything else — this is strictly basketball. That’s what I want.”
Bazley played in the McDonald’s All-American Game Wednesday, recording 11 points, seven rebounds, and two assists. In April, he will also participate in the Jordan Brand Classic and Nike Hoops Summit, two more key events for high school basketball prospects.