The NBA cares about the education of their players at least a little bit. They care at least enough that they stopped players from coming directly out of high school to the NBA. Players are, however, still allowed to enter the NBA Draft after their freshman year of college, which is what the majority of the best ones do.
There are other ways into the league as well. Some players will go overseas until they’re old enough for the NBA Draft. Some players will just take a year off and train. And some of them will try to make it in the NBA’s developmental league, the NBA G-League (formerly the NBA D-League, but Gatorade bought the naming rights to the whole league).
Well, the league has decided that enough is enough. They don’t care how good you are at basketball; you’re going to get an education. So, players that are eligible to play in college are no longer eligible to play in the NBA G League. You’ll need to go through school first.
“A player shall be eligible to be signed a (G-League) Player Contract only if he has satisfied all applicable requirements of Section (a) below, and one of the requirements of Section (b) below,” reads the league’s official new rule.
“a. The players (i) is or will be at least eighteen (18) years of age during the calendar year in which the Player Draft is held, and (ii) with respect to a player who is not an International player has graduated from high school (or if the player did not graduate from high school, the class with which the player would have graduated had he graduated from high school has graduated); and
“b. Either (i) the player has NOT attended a college or university in the United States or Canada during the academic year that takes place during all or any part of the season; (ii) the player has attended a college or university in the United States or Canada during the academic year that takes place during all or any part of the season but is no longer eligible in the current academic year (including by enrolling) to play basketball for the college or university during the season at the time of signing the Player Contract; or (iii) the player has no remaining intercollegiate basketball eligibility.”
Good luck getting around those rules. So, for example, if LaVar Ball decides that the Ball brothers have had enough in Lithuania and that he’s going to bring LiAngelo and LaMelo back to the United States to play in the G League until the Los Angeles Lakers pick them up, he would have a lot of screaming and yelling to do because G-League teams would not be able to sign them to a contract.
“We’re not looking to compete with college basketball for their players,” said a league source. “The NBA, specifically NBA lawyers, are concerned about the optics of NCAA players being disgruntled with minutes or coaching decisions and leaving college with the hopes of joining the G League. This is a blanket rule unfortunately that applies to all players. Like all of our rules, we are open to revisiting them if needed, but at the moment any player that was enrolled in a college this season is ineligible to play in our League.”
So, maybe the NBA cares about their players, or maybe the NCAA decided to team up and force the NBA’s hand. Either way, if you’re a budding basketball star, you should start looking for school scholarships instead of G-League sponsorships.