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NIL and the G-league offer new opportunities for young basketball stars

Irene Rotondo

Since James Naismith hung the first peach basket in 1891, the landscape of basketball has evolved dramatically. Gone are the days of unpaid professionalism; many of the star athletes that carried the 2022 Spalding Hoophall Classic presented by Eastbay event on their backs will now have a chance to be paid for their efforts — without having to join the NBA G-League, and potentially while still in high school.

The states of Alaska, California, Nebraska, New Jersey, and New York all allow for full profit for high school basketball players from their NIL activities. The drive for full access across all states is coming, and coaches are excited for their players to have the opportunity.

“I think it’s great, honestly — these guys are what promotes the game, just like in college, these guys deserve to make money and it’s good for the game,” said Steve Smith, head coach of Oak Hill Academy.

Steve Smith at the 2022 Spalding Hoophall Classic presented by Eastbay. (Joe Arruda/The Student)

“In Virginia, they can’t do that right now, but I think it’s going to happen because they have to let it happen. So we’re going to have a guy speak to our guys about it, going to come into campus and speak to them, let them know the rules and what they can and can’t do,” he added.

The real issue before NIL rules were changed was the pressure the G-League put on colleges to make competitive offers to athletes. Colleges were only able to offer free rides and nothing more — which is enticing to some, but the draw of having an affiliation with the NBA, and to make money right out of high school by joining the G-League, was more compelling to young men and women.

Kevin Boyle, head coach at Montverde Academy, stated that he thought most high school players aren’t actually ready for the G-League right out of high school and would benefit from playing in college.

“The last 151 players that have played in the NBA — Americans — that were not drafted, 135 of them went to college for three or four years,” said Boyle.

“It might be a quick little money, but could cost yourself a career, or an education [by skipping out on college.] Very few 19-year-olds are ready to play in the G-League; you could ruin yourself being in that world too early. 

“You’re not ready for it maturity-wise, you’re not ready for it skill-wise, and your confidence will get eaten up. A lot of guys need to progress at the right pace, and if you skip steps, you often fall down the steps,” he concluded.

Kevin Boyle at the 2022 Spalding Hoophall Classic presented by Eastbay. (Joe Arruda/The Student)

Now that athletes can benefit from NIL, it levels the playing field for colleges. By affording those colleges stronger teams, the NBA and the sport of basketball itself will continue to grow and evolve as it’s done throughout history.

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