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Mitch Barnhart offers thoughts on growing G-League popularity

Clearly, Barnhart is not a fan.

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Over the past couple of seasons, we have seen more and more high school athletes choose an option that is not college basketball to prepare for the NBA.

Many have gone overseas instead to compete against other professionals. Most recently, we saw five-star guard RJ Hampton choose to sign with the New Zealand Breakers rather than attend college.

So, it’s no secret that players are starting to look elsewhere to grow their skills and prepare for the NBA. With the One & Done rule more than likely ending in 2022, a brand new option has opened up for top high school players: The revamped G-League.

The G-League has really grown in popularity as the NBA’s developmental league, and the league is putting more money into it and raising the pay for its players.

When the One & Done rule is abolished, players will be able to go straight from high school to the actual NBA again.

But for now, the question is how many will choose to go to the G-League and develop their game rather than spending a year or two in college?

247 Sports sat down with Mitch Barnhart to get his thoughts on the situation.

“Those guys in the G-League, they’re fighting to get back up there. They’re not interested in helping a high school kid. It’s not like baseball where, with a bat in your hand, you can go up there and determine a little of your own fate in the minor league. You create your own average,” Barnhart said. “In basketball, you have to have somebody to throw you the ball so you can score. If they decide not to throw you the ball, guess what?”

Clearly, Barnhart is not a fan. He does have a great point here when comparing it to baseball.

“In baseball, I get three or four at-bats every game and I can determine my fate. If I’m a pitcher in baseball, I get the chance to step on the mound every four or five days and prove how good I am. I get that chance,” he said. “If you go to the G-League, there is no guarantee you’ll get 20 shots a game. No guarantee at all. Everybody thinks this is no different than baseball. It’s way different. It’s a completely different deal.”

Baseball’s minor league works so well because while it is a team sport, you get a chance to shine individually. In the G-League, shots are sparse, who knows how many you’ll get?

However, a counter to this point is noting that if a player wants to become a professional, they will have to go through this schedule and lifestyle for the rest of their careers. Some would argue that getting a head start on that would prepare them better for the pros rather than a college basketball season which has around 30 games in one season with classes thrown in the mix as well.

Barnhart does believe though that the One & Done being eliminated will allow college basketball to thrive.

“You’ve got a lot of young people who are making decisions that are not best suited for them, and if they are, sometimes they are really short-term decisions,” Barnhart said. “This will allow the player who thinks he is ready to make a really high-end, life-changing decision and go to the NBA, then you need to go do that.

“The other side is that the young people who don’t do that and feel like they need to grow their game, this will give them a chance to do that without the pressures of everybody saying, ‘You must leave. You’re getting left behind. You gotta go.’ Stop. You don’t need to do that. Stay and grow and learn and you get a couple of years of education and learn how to deal with real life instead of just getting tossed into this thing.”

He hits it right on the dot with this one. Those top players like Zion Williamson and James Wiseman are more than likely ready for the pressures of the NBA. Let them go. For the majority of young players, however, they need time to grow into themselves both as a player and an individual. College is the perfect place for them to do just that.