BROOKLYN — Darius Bazley said people don’t understand his motives about entering the G League instead of going to Syracuse.
Bazley, who will play in Sunday’s Jordan Brand Classic here, is a 6-8 forward from Princeton (Cincinnati). He led his team to a 23-4 record, averaging 15.3 points and 10.5 rebounds a game.
He said he doesn’t need the money, which isn’t all that great in the G League (players can earn as little as $26,000 a year). He also said he’s academically eligible to go to college. It’s just that he feels he’ll develop more quickly playing one year in the G League than playing in college.
“What I’m trying to get out of this year is a lot of growth,” Bazley said. “I would go this route, even if I wasn’t getting paid. I just feel like it is going to help me. I don’t want to just get (to the NBA), I want to stick.”
Bazley said he still plans to work toward a college degree, even if that means taking classes online.
“I did qualify,” he said. “I have the ACT scores. I get my work done in the classroom. With this route, I do intend to work toward classes. It will be online, or depending on what team I end up at, I might take classes at a nearby college.”
If the NBA’s ‘one-and-done’ rule goes away next year, as many think it might, Bazley still sees a route for some players to go the G League, which is the NBA’s minor league.
“If I was a junior and next year, the one-and-done went away, I would go to the NBA draft if the opportunity presented itself and I was getting good feedback and they told me I was a lottery pick or a top 10 or top five guy,” he said. “But if I’m late in the second round, then no, I’m going to do what I have to do to get ready and that could mean the G League.”
With all of the money in college basketball and as the current FBI investigation is showing, elite college players can generate far more revenue than the value of a college scholarship. That can create a black-market economy that has led to scandals.
That economy may also be the driving force for players to either skip college altogether, either by playing professionally in Europe or the G League, or by entering a prep school for an extra year until they are eligible for the NBA draft, as Thon Maker did in 2016 or Terrance Ferguson did last year.
“It’s crazy because they’re using us and we really don’t get to profit from it,” said LSU signee Emmitt Williams. “Guys are using our names and they’re getting money for it and we’re sitting here, struggling. Thank God, we get a scholarship and go to school, but a scholarship doesn’t pay for food and little things.”
Apple Valley, Minn., guard Tre Jones, the brother of Minnesota Timberwolves guard Tyus Jones, said some players don’t want to wait to be paid.
“Right now, there’s a lot of talk about money being thrown around,” Jones said. “With college not paying athletes, some people, in their best interests want to get paid a year earlier and are talented enough to do that. I personally think college athletes should be paid, but at the same time, it’s not that easy. Which ones do you pay? It would be hard to get going because it’s such a big thing.”
Follow Jim Halley on Twitter at:@jimhalley