In 2020, the G League began to offer contracts to high school recruits. The contract is for one year, which allows recruits to skip college and be paid for one year. This still allows young talent to develop for a year before the draft process begins, and they are being paid. Overall, this has become an alternative route to the usual one and done college option for many elite talents.
In only two recruiting classes, several highly touted recruits selected the G League option. G League contract offers have increased in just one year, and more recruits are now expected to skip college basketball. Is this G League option becoming a problem for college basketball?
G League Commit History
This alternate G League option has been a hit from the start for recruits. In its first class, the G League landed two top five nationally ranked recruits in Jalen Green and Jonathan Kuminga. Both Green and Kuminga received a one year contract worth over $700,000. In addition, their draft stock was not hurt much since they are projected as top five picks in the 2021 NBA Draft.
The G League’s 2021 recruiting class was not as successful as the 2020 class. However, the G League still landed the best guard in the 2021 class Jaden Hardy. As a projected top five pick, Hardy is an elite talent. Clearly, this G League route has been quite successful so far.
2022 Recruiting Class
College basketball has lost a lot of talent to the G League in only two recruiting cycles. This could become worse as the G League is beginning to offer larger contracts to recruits. In next year’s 2022 recruiting class, the G League is in a good position to land three of the top seven recruits. Furthermore, the G League is currently expected to land the two top recruits in the 2022 class.
Ranked third nationally in 247 Sports’ rankings, Dior Johnson is the top guard in the 2022 class. Johnson was committed to Syracuse for some time, but decommitted recently. He will announce his commitment June 25, and will likely pick the G League or the NBL, an Australian pro league. The NBL is reportedly offering Johnson a one year contract worth over $1 million. This is a tempting option for Johnson, but the G League could offer a contract that nearly matches the NBL’s offer.
2022 five-star Dior Johnson’s estimated NBL offer is expected to be $1.2 million, per source.
— Joe Tipton (@TiptonEdits) June 20, 2021
Another 2022 recruit expected to go pro is Emoni Bates. Bates is the best recruit out of the 2022 class, and is even compared to Kevin Durant.
Similar to Johnson, Bates is a recent decommit from Michigan State. Since his decommit, Bates has become a near lock to skip college and go pro. Considering Bates’ immense talent, the G League may offer a contract worth over $1 million. Any top recruit lost to the G League hurts college basketball’s talent level, but Bates is close to a generational talent and would be a huge loss.
The top big man in the 2022 class is the freak athlete Jalen Duren. His recruitment has become quite interesting over the last two weeks. Right now, many believe Duren will reclassify and join the 2021 class. However, this has not become official so he remains in the 2022 class for now. Duren was expected to select the G League for some time now. After the reclassifying rumors emerged, the G League offered Duren one of their largest contracts ever at $1 million.
2022 five-star Jalen Duren’s NBA G-League offer is expected to be $1 million, per @AdamZagoria
— Joe Tipton (@TiptonEdits) June 11, 2021
After the G League offered this large contract, many felt Duren was a lock for the G League. On the other hand, some rumors have leaked that Duren wants to play college basketball. He recently completed a visit at Miami and still plans to visit Memphis and Kentucky. If Duren reclassifies to the 2021 class, he would play college basketball in the upcoming season if the college rumors are correct.
Landing Duren is vital for college basketball since so much talent is now going to the G League. Even if college basketball only loses Bates and Johnson to the G League, this would hurt talent level a lot. Bates would produce similar publicity to someone like Zion Williamson. Duren is also an extremely rare talent that would produce a lot of publicity. If college basketball does miss on Bates, Duren and Johnson, this would be a huge blow. College basketball may need to look at pay for play options if the G League continues to lure away top talents in the coming years.
All stats courtesy of 247 Sports.