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Why top-tier prospects are now considering the G-League development program

Money, practicing with NBA players, and free college are some of the benefits.

Auburn v Kentucky Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

Jalen Green was the No. 1 prospect in the nation. He was being recruited by every major program and could’ve made a name for himself at the collegiate level, but more enticing routes have opened up for the nation’s best recruit.

No, I’m not talking about overseas ball like top-tier prospects RJ Hampton and LaMelo Ball passed up college for. We’re talking about the G-League’s development program which is being dubbed the “NBA professional pathway program.”

It was originally set up to give those top high school athlete $125,000 to forego college and start their professional journey.

But, they’d potentially be putting their national publicity and ability to be the center of attention for quality coaching staffs on the line. Players like Zion Williamson may not have had the exposure in the rarely-watched G-League as opposed to at Duke.

Now, Green is looking at $500,000 and a good amount of other perks as outlined by ESPN’s Jonathan Givony and Adrian Wojnarowski.

“Green is committing to become part of a year-long developmental program with G League oversight that will include professional coaching, top prospects and veteran players who will combine training and exhibition game competitions against the likes of G League teams, foreign national teams and NBA academies throughout the world, sources said.”

There more than just that though.

“The salary bonus structure in Green’s contract, for example, is expected to include financial incentives for games played, completing community events and life skills programs coordinated by the G League’s oversight of the program, sources said.”

Entering a more enhanced version of the program, Green is also expected to be surrounded by players that have been around the league and can mentor him. Michigan commit Isaiah Todd, who decommitted earlier this week, is also joining Green in the program.

And for those who think even some of these big-name recruits should have a college education, the G-League agrees. Prospects who join the league will also be given free college tuition if they ever decide to go back to college.

In other words, the G-League is offering just about everything a recruit could ask for outside of getting to play in college basketball games.

As for the Wildcats, one of the top recruiting programs in the nation, it may start to be slim picking. Thankfully, one of their five-star recruits, Terrance Clarke, recently reaffirmed his desire to turn down an overseas contract to play in Lexington.

But, if these standards hold true and this program begins to be a farming ground for top prospects, expect many of these elite recruits to opt into that route. This could spell trouble for the NCAA in a situation (playing skipping college) that seemed inevitable.