PORTLAND, Ore. — The Nike Hoop Summit in Portland, Oregon, is an annual look at the top high school players in the country. And although the participants are at least a year from entering the NBA Draft, more than 100 NBA scouts gather to assess players before their college career begins. Or, in the case of Princeton’s Darius Bazley, before their G League career begins.
Two weeks ago, the top-10 recruit shocked the basketball world by decommitting from Syracuse, foregoing college to enter the NBA’s developmental G-League.
“Every player’s route to the NBA is different,” said Duke commit R.J. Barrett. “For him, that’s a great opportunity. He’s starting something new.”
The highest salary Bazley can receive as a G-League player is $26,000, but the fact that NCAA players are not paid has become a pressing issue, especially this season.
“People wanna get paid,” Barrett said.
But Bazley shied from that reasoning.
“That’s not why. I’d do it for free,” he said.
For Bazley, the development aspect of being a professional player is what struck him. The 6-foot-9, 200-pound forward is lanky and athletic. As a participant of the U.S. Team at the Nike Hoop Summit, Bazley has showed his athleticism in practices, particularly as a high-flying dunker and shot-blocker, but does look especially thin in comparison with other forwards.
“A lot of feedback I get is people say I need to develop my body, jump shot. That really stood out to me that I’d be able to have 24 hours all to myself, working on me,” he said.
Bazley was not thrilled about the college life and in competing at the collegiate level.
“In the G-League, which I’m about to go into, you’re preparing for the NBA,” he said. “When you’re in college, they prepare you a little bit, but for the most part, you’re preparing for your opponent, preparing for that game.”