Jimmy’s blog: Barnes doesn’t think G League elite will have huge impact on college

By Jimmy Hyams

The NBA recently established a G League elite team to keep high-level prospects from bypassing college to play professionally in Europe or Australia.

That means paying high school grads over $400,000 a year to play about a 10-game schedule against some regular G League teams and working on one’s skills.

Three high school talents have taken their talents to the G League elite team.

How is that league going to effect college basketball?

“I don’t know yet,’’ said Tennessee men’s basketball coach Rick Barnes in a recent interview on SportsTalk, WNML Radio.

“We’ve seen over the last couple of years a number of players have chosen not to come to college and play over in Europe and it hasn’t affected college basketball.’’

To Barnes’ point, it’s hard to name the few that have followed that path.

Barnes said he didn’t think Duke star Zion Williamson missing about two-thirds of last season due to injury impacted the college game.

“Will there be some kids that opt to go that way (G League)?’’ Barnes said. “Possibly. I’d say yes. What percentage, I don’t know.’’

Barnes said he understands the NBA’s point of view.

“What the NBA is saying is, `If a guy doesn’t want to go to college, why should he have to go to China or Europe when we have a developmental league here?’’’ Barnes said

Barnes said the NBA needs to be “real clear on exactly how many guys (they’ll take), who they’re going to encourage to do this.

“Do I think it’s going to have a major impact (on college basketball)?’’ Barnes said. “I don’t. I think college basketball will be fine regardless.

“I think most young men  today are willing to wait nine months (before playing in the pros).’’

Certainly, that has been the case at Kentucky and Duke and at a few other schools that have had one-and-done players.

One concern from the college ranks is if you have a player signed, you’re not thrilled if the G League swoops in and takes that prospect. That happened to UCLA a few months ago.

Another concern is how these mostly 18-year-olds will respond playing in the G League against pros, some of whom have a significant age, skill and physical advantage.

“A young guy could come out of high school and think it’s going to be pretty easy,’’ Barnes said, “and get demoralized if he’s playing against guys who want the same thing he wants, and then he doesn’t get to play as much as he thought.

“Whereas, if goes to college and he’s the player he thinks he is, he’ll get to play and still develop.’’


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