NCAA Has Competition: New NBA Developmental League Signs Top Prospect Jalen Green For $500K

Isheka N. Harrison
Written by Isheka N. Harrison
Top high school basketball player Jalen Green, 18, inked a deal valued at $500,000 with the NBA G League, likely changing the future of the NCAA. Prolific Prep’s Jalen Green #4 shoots a free throw against La Lumiere during a high school basketball game at the Hoophall Classic, Sunday, January 19, 2020, in Springfield, MA. (AP Photo/Gregory Payan)

Top high school basketball player Jalen Green, 18, just changed the game. Pun intended. Green inked a deal valued at $500,000 with the NBA’s G League, becoming the first elite prospect to take part in its revamped professional pathway program.

The 6-foot-5 small forward from California is ranked the No. 1 prospect in this year’s ESPN 100, has been compared to the late, great Kobe Bryant and is a potential No. 1 pick in the 2021 NBA Draft.

He made the announcement via Instagram and Twitter with the respective captions: “this what we worked for!! Only up,” and “blessing from the man above” with praying hands and heart emojis.

“It’s been a crazy exciting experience for me and my family. A lot of opportunities have came, but the ultimate end goal is to get to the NBA; so that being said I decided to partner with the NBA’s G League new team for elite players,” Green said with a smile before his family threw confetti on him.

His decision to forego the required year of college playing NCAA basketball before becoming eligible for the NBA draft and take the aforementioned path will likely disrupt the current NCAA basketball landscape in the U.S.

His agent Aaron Goodwin – who also represented LeBron James and Dwight Howard when they entered the league – believes Green is the perfect pioneer for the program.

“The way I’ve done business for 29 years shows people that I have a great eye for talent and that I pick kids that can become great ballplayers, great people on and off the court,” Goodwin told NBC Sports Bay Area. “He’s in that mold.”

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Fellow top high school prospect Isaiah Todd has already followed in Green’s footsteps and signed to the G League program. The deal also includes a college scholarship if players want to pursue their education in the off season.

The NBA G League’s revamped professional pathway program was born after LaMelo Ball and R.J. Hampton both went overseas to forego college and play professionally. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and NBA All-Star and G League president Shareef Abdur-Rahim decided they needed to do something to retain American talent that wasn’t interested in the college route.

“That’s a real program that the NBL has,” Abdur-Rahim told ESPN. “It’s appealing. We have kids leaving the United States — Texas and California and Georgia — to go around the world to play, and our NBA community has to travel there to scout them. That’s counterintuitive. The NBA is the best development system in the world, and those players shouldn’t have to go somewhere else to develop for a year. They should be in our development system.”