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If the NBA’s G League had years ago implemented its revamped program that will pay elite high school prospects $500,000 for one season, it’s easy to imagine that Jaylen Brown would never have played at Cal.

Same with Shareef Abdur-Rahim.

Abdur-Rahim played just one season for the Bears before entering the NBA draft. He was clearly good enough to play professionally directly out of Wheeler High School in Marietta, Georgia, but the rules prevented it.

So after being voted both the Pac-10 Freshman of the Year and Player of the Year in 1995-96, Abdur-Rahim entered the draft and was selected No. 3 overall.

He talks in the video below about completing his Cal degree: 

Now — after playing a 12-year NBA career in which he averaged 18.1 points and also finishing his Cal degree — Abdur-Rahim is president of the G League. He will help implement changes that give the G League a pathway around the NBA’s one-and-done rule for top young prospects.

The move was made at the urging of NBA commissioner Adam Silver in response to young players bolting directly from high school to play overseas rather than spending a year in college. LaMelo Ball and RJ Hampton, expected to be top-20 picks in this year’s draft, both played professionally in Australia this past season.

“We have kids leaving the United States — Texas and California and Georgia — to go around the world to play, and our NBA community has to travel there to scout them,” Abdur-Rahim said. “That’s counterintuitive. The NBA is the best development system in the world, and those players shouldn’t have to go somewhere else to develop for a year. They should be in our development system.”

Already, two top players have announced they will join the G League, which will create a team in Southern California composed of top prospects directly out of high school, and pay each of them at least $500,000.

The headliner will be Jalen Green, a five-star prospect who was part of SI’s inaugural high school All-America team. Green is a 6-foot-5 combo guard from Fresno who played this season at Napa’s Prolific Prep. 

Here is SI's story on Green jumping to the G League:

“We’re thrilled to welcome a player and a person of Jalen’s caliber to the NBA G League,” Abdur-Rahim said in a news release. “He represents the next generation of NBA players, and we couldn’t be more excited to have him develop his professional skills in our league. Jalen will learn from an NBA-caliber coaching staff and player development staff as he begins his professional basketball journey.”

Also headed to the G League is 6-foot-10 Isaiah Todd, a five-star recruit who recently decommitted from Michigan.

The new G League arrangement quadruples the previous salary of $125,000 and also provides incentives for participation in games, community events and life skills programs. The development team will provide training and 10 or 12 exhibition games against G League teams, but also competition against international and academy teams.

Abdur-Rahim has said his one year attending classes at Cal was worthwhile, although he recently acknowledged it was difficult to balance basketball and academics. He said focusing on classes was much easier for him later, when he returned to school during the NBA offseason or after his career was complete.

Brown, now a budding star with the Boston Celtics, seemed to embrace the academic rigors in his one year at Cal. He even went to the trouble of getting special approval from a dean to enroll in a post-graduate Masters class on Cultural Studies of Sport in Education.

Brown averaged 14.6 points and 5.4 rebounds for Cal in 2015-16 and showed spectacular athletic prowess but an undeveloped shooting touch.

Would Jaylen Brown have gone the route of the revamped G League?

The NBA recognized his potential, and Brown was picked No. 3 in the draft, just as Abdur-Rahim was. After converting just 29 percent from the college 3-point arc, Brown has made 37 percent from the NBA arc through four seasons.

Brown was averaging 20.4 points and 6.4 rebounds -- both career highs -- when the NBA shut down last month. Clearly, his one year in college did him no harm.

But school is not for everyone, and the NBA Players Association has shown little sign of agreeing to eliminate the one-and-done rule. So this is a different avenue for those players, and it’s the right thing to do.