Two weeks ago, SI All-American Player of the Year Jalen Green talked at-length with Sports Illustrated about his respect and admiration for Kobe Bryant and how the NBA icon impacted his life and game before his tragic death in a plane crash on Jan. 26.
“He’s someone that I looked to as the GOAT,” said Green, referencing the greatest of all time.
Now, Green is following in Bryant’s footsteps, making the jump from high school to the pro ranks as opposed to suiting up in college.
ESPN reports that Green plans to play in the NBA G League's professional pathway program next season, forgoing college. Though he never officially cut his school list, Green had deep ties to Memphis, Fresno State and Auburn. He is scheduled to make an official announcement at 1 p.m. ET Thursday.
Players must be 19 years old and one year removed from high school in order to declare for the NBA draft, per league rules.
The developmental G League has been trying for the last two years to lure elite high school players over with the promise of a $125,000 salary for the season before entering the NBA draft, but sources indicate that Green’s contract could be “well” north of that.
It’s also likely that the shoe company bidding war is being waged.
Green is, arguably, the most recognizable high school player in the country with 876,000 followers on Instagram.
Last year, R.J. Hampton opted to play professionally for the New Zealand Breakers instead of suiting up at Kansas and signed a five-year multi-million dollar shoe deal with Chinese brand Li-Ning.
Green is the second player in the 2020 class to take the pro route; on Tuesday Word of God Christian Academy (Raleigh, N.C.) forward Isaiah Todd told SI that he was decommitting from Michigan to go pro.
This season at Prolific Prep (Napa, Calif.), Green averaged 31.5 points, 7.5 rebounds and five assists for The Crew, which finished 31–3 and took home the Grind Session World Championship.
Last summer in the Nike Elite Youth Basketball League, Green led Team WhyNot (Calif.) to the Peach Jam title game, averaging 23.7 points, 4.3 rebounds and three assists.