MIAMI (AP) — The G League will begin offering "select contracts" worth $125,000 next year to elite prospects who are not yet eligible for the NBA, a move that could slightly lessen the handful of one-and-done players at the college level.
It is unclear how the players would be selected, but the league said Thursday it is establishing a working group to identify players who could be offered the contract.
Players will be eligible to sign the select deal if they turn 18 by Sept. 15 prior to the season that they would spend in the G League. The move follows recommendations released earlier this year by the Commission on College Basketball, a group that was chaired by former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and was tasked with reforming the college game.
The commission report said "elite high school players with NBA prospects ... should not be 'forced' to attend college."
G League President Malcolm Turner said the move addresses that concern.
"Select Contracts are an answer to the basketball community's call for additional development options for elite players before they are eligible for the NBA," Turner said.
Under current rules, players are not eligible to enter the NBA draft until they are a year removed from high school — though that is expected to change through an amendment to the collective bargaining agreement between the NBA and its players in time for the 2022 draft.
The G League has allowed 18-year-old players in the past, but never before under any elite designation.
While it is apparent there are still details to be ironed out, NCAA President Mark Emmert said he appreciates the G League's plan.
"Obtaining a college education continues to provide unmatched preparation for success in life for the majority of student-athletes and remains an excellent path to professional sports for many," Emmert said. "However, this change provides another option for those who would prefer not to attend college but want to directly pursue professional basketball."
Earlier this year, Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James called the NCAA model "corrupt" and said he would suggest to NBA Commissioner Adam Silver a plan to expand the G League and turn it into more of a farm system with an eye on truly preparing young talent for the NBA.
"As the NBA, we have to figure out a way that we can shore up our farm league," James said in February, when he was still with the Cleveland Cavaliers. "And if kids feel like they don't want to be a part of that NCAA program, then we have something here for them to be able to jump back on and not have to worry about going overseas all the time."
Through the first two nights of this NBA season, 35 rookies — most of them having left college early — made their debuts. Of the 35, only five scored more than 10 points in their first game.