Throughout the course of the last couple of years, numerous different routes to the professional ranks have been presented to high school basketball players.
Between the NBA G League Ignite and the newly-formed Overtime Elite League vying for players from the high school ranks, the top talents in high school basketball now have more options than ever to prepare for the rigors of professional basketball. There are still ways to accomplish that at the high school level, though, and in 2021-22, a high school basketball super conference of sorts will be put to the test.
Beginning next high school basketball season, the National Interscholastic Basketball Conference (NIBC) will pit eight of the top private high school basketball teams in the country against one another in a series of tournaments before playing for a conference championship. The NIBC first ran last high school basketball season during the COVID-19 pandemic, but 2021-22 will mark the first season where the league will feature a full slate of games.
IMG Academy, La Lumiere School, Montverde Academy, Oak Hill Academy, Sunrise Christian Academy and Wasatch Academy have already joined the NIBC full-time, while other programs are soon set to join on a part-time basis. Regardless of which schools eventually join the league, top high school talent across the nation will be playing itself on a regular basis, providing players with the opportunity to go against the best on a regular basis while still maintaining amateur status.
“It’s hard to say playing against those schools is better than the G league because there are actual guys in the G League that played in the NBA, guys that will get called up to the NBA and guys that were amazing college players that have played at a very high level to get to the G League so that’s tough to top,” Kentucky commit Skyy Clark, who recently transferred to Montverde, recently said, per Forbes’ Adam Zagoria.
“And as far as the Overtime league, no one knows what it will look like so I can’t speak on it at this time but what I will say is the daily grind of practice [while] playing on a team with such high-caliber players will have me ready to compete at any level when I move on to the next level.”
Even with the NIBC in place, some elite high school basketball players will still opt to take a crack at the professional ranks earlier than expected. Overtime Elite recently signed two five-star 2023 recruits, while Jaden Hardy, the No. 3 recruit in the class of 2021, spurned some of college basketball’s top programs to sign a contract with the G League.
With that being said, the fact remains that the NIBC is a league like high school basketball has never seen before — both in terms of competition and its ability to prepare players for the next level, whichever level that may be.
“This league gives the nation’s best young players the opportunity to develop their games, get exposure and get a great education,” said Montverde head coach Kevin Boyle.