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Copyright 2018 The Arizona Daily Star Oct 21, 2018
Arizona Daily Star (Tucson)
At college basketball's ongoing corruption trial, it appeared that $100,000 was a typical going rate for those alleged to have been offered money by the game's elite schools.
Now the NBA's G League will offer "select contracts" worth $125,000 to top high school prospects. It sounds like a win-win for those who don't wish to first take part in the educational experience of college basketball. It may seriously cut back cheating by coaches.
The G League option includes being part of the NBA infrastructure, based on accelerating a prospect's development on and off the court. Parents of those 18-year-olds can hire agents, profit from marketing deals and, well, not worry about the NCAA's rules and just play basketball.
Just like in real life.
The unknown: How many high school seniors will take the $125,000 and skip college?
Baseball has forever allowed high school seniors to skip college and sign immediately. One potential gauge of how the early-signings will go can be seen in Tucson's prep-to-pros baseball prospects: 46 Tucson high school athletes have played in the major-leagues.
Of those 46 MLB players, 12 signed directly out of Tucson high schools. That's about 25 percent.
Those who signed out of high school were Salpointe's Mark Carreon; Sabino's J.J. Hardy; CDO's Chris Duncan; Santa Rita's Anthony Sanders; Amphi's Alex Kellner; Tucson High's Tom Wilhelmsen and Tavo Alvarez; Palo Verde's Andy Hassler; Sahuaro's Alex Verdugo, Tom Wiedenbauer, Jim Olander and Sam Khalifa.
Finances have changed the last 25 years. Those like Verdugo and Hardy got bonuses in excess of $500,000 to sign. Twenty-five years ago, Sanders got an estimated $125,000 to forego a UA football career and sign with the Blue Jays. Now, most early-signees get a clause that includes money for a full college education.
My guess is that if the G League's $125,000 offer had existed the last 10 years, former Arizona players Stanley Johnson, Aaron Gordon, Kobi Simmons, Rawle Alkins and Allonzo Trier would've taken the G League route.
The future of college basketball recruiting will soon change significantly. But it should be a trickle-down effect, meaning a school like Arizona will still get the top available prospects. Fewer elite players will opt for college, but it might also lead to more programs like Arizona retaining players for three and four years.
If so, that's a good tradeoff.
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