The time of year where you see where all the significant recruits commit to playing the next level of their respective sport is always an exciting time. Sometimes programs end up with a stellar class, and it makes everyone excited to watch college sports. A prime example of this is Duke 2018 Mes’s basketball recruiting class which four five-star recruits end on the same team. Playing college ball, even if it is just for one season, brings players one step closer to their professional dream. Sometimes players take an alternative route and instead play overseas. The eligibility rule at least for the NBA is you have to be one year removed from high school.
Why do players decide to go overseas?
R.J Hampton, a five-star basketball recruit, announced on ESPN’s morning show, Get Up, that he will forego his college season and sign with New Zealand Breakers of the National Basketball League. Now, of course, he is not the first player to do that there have been many other basketball players to do so such as Emmanuel Mudiay, Brandon Jennings, and Mitchell Robinson. LaMelo Ball brother of New Orleans Pelicans points guard Lonzo Ball decided to not play in college either as he is also playing for the NBL but as a member of the Illawarra Hawks.
One reason a player might not want to play college ball is that they do not want to juggle academics and sports. Hampton said that his dream was to play in the NBA, not college. “My dream has never been to play college basketball. My dream has always been to get to the next level and play in the NBA.”
Another reason players might want to skip college is that they want to get a taste of what professional life is like. Hampton said the decision to play overseas is the best route for him.”This was the best route for me to live like a pro and play with grown men every day and not have to juggle books and basketball and focus on my goal. Hampton said he wants to set the trend for the younger guys and show them that college basketball is not the only way.
A big reason some players might want to skip college is that they want to get paid, although sometimes players will not get paid as much they won’t’ even get playing time. Jennings who decided to skip his college season and play in Italy. Jennings spoke on the pay and the mental toll it takes on a player. “I’ve gotten paid on time once. They treated me like a little kid. They don’t see you as a man. If you get on a good time, you might play a lot; some nights you won’t play at all.” An average salary for a fifth division player is $1,500 per month compare that to first division player $20,00 per month.
What does this mean for future prospects?
The move to play overseas instead of playing in college is rare, surprising nonetheless but you have to think that this will not be last time we hear of a player forgoing their college season. Players like R.J Hampton who had offers from Duke, Kentucky, Memphis, and many other colleges, could have had a good college season because of his playstyle. ESPN College basketball analyst Jay Williams said that this is a good move for future players because it lets everyone know that playing overseas is still an option. Top 2020 recruit Makur Maker might be joining LaMelo Ball in the NBL and their reports saying that another top 2020 recruit Jalen Green might go play overseas.