The NBA G League announced it's creating a new venture for attracting the nation's top high school prospects on Thursday, unveiling a "professional path" program that would offer $125,000 contracts to "elite prospects".
The new program beginning in 2019 will aim to draw the most highly-sought graduating high schoolers away from the NCAA and into the G-League by offering compensation and experience in the "NBA infrastructure". Players who enter the program will earn a six-figure salary in their year between high school and the NBA rather than play one season in the NCAA without economic benefit.
The criteria for determining elite prospects has yet to be determined.
"The broader basketball community has called for the NBA to enhance our G League offerings," G League president Malcolm Turner told ESPN's Jonathan Givony. "We believe this is an answer to that call. We believe this is a thoughtful and responsive answer."
Players who forego college hoops and enter the G League program will be able to hire agents as well as pursue endorsement and marketing deals. Neither are allowed by the NCAA.
Not everyone is confident the G League's program will take off. ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski noted his skepticism on Thursday, writing on Twitter, "Big-time NCAA ball still has the trappings of exposure, packed houses, private jets. You'll get paid there too."
Those who choose to enter the G League's professional path program will play one season in the NBA's developmental arm, then be eligible for the next year's draft. Prospects must be at least 18-years-old by mid-September to qualify for the G League program.
Seven of the top 10 recruits in the nation for 2019 are currently uncommitted to college programs per 247Sports. Turner said the G League "will not pursue those players who have already committed to colleges." However, Turner stated the G League will accept high-level prospects who choose to decommit from their respective schools.
The choice between a year of college or the new G League program will be in place for the foreseeable future. The NBA will not consider allowing high schoolers to directly enter the league until 2022 at the earliest per Wojnarowski.