Storyline: Darius Bazley to G League

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ESPN’s ninth-ranked prospect in the Class of 2018 is skipping college and perhaps starting a new trend by playing professionally in the NBA’s G League. “It brings more out of you,” Bazley said of playing in front of NBA scouts and executives. “You’ve got to get up for times and situations like that. When you’re playing in front of them, it’s basically like a tryout. It’s not nerve-wracking at all. Every time I step on the court, I am looking to learn, whether it’s from players, coaches, trainers. … I am definitely trying to learn and showcase what I can do in front of these NBA scouts.”

Darius Bazley 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.”

Scott Roth: “It’s tougher than the NBA, tougher than Europe. There’s just so many things constantly going on down here. You got a bunch of guys with a bunch of different agendas, you’ve got agents telling guys what they want, you got teams telling them what they want. And so you’re going to get a 17, 18-year old kid and throw them in this environment with 26, 27-year old men who have a different agenda and try to manage a kid, and it’s already hard enough to manage young kids with one year of college experience.”

McDonald’s All American and Syracuse commit Darius Bazley — a projected top-10 selection in the 2019 NBA draft — has decided to turn professional and plans to sign in the NBA G League, Bazley told Yahoo Sports. Bazley, 17, told Yahoo Sports he has decommitted from Syracuse and will play in the G League after discussing several options with his mother, Lynnita Bazley, close family members and Princeton (Cincinnati) High School coach Steve Wright. Several players have set a trend of leaving collegiate commitments to play overseas, but Bazley’s decision to bypass the one-and-done format for the G League is unprecedented.

“This is a life-changing decision,” Bazley, one of the top players in the Class of 2018, told Yahoo Sports. “I put a lot of thinking into this with my mom and close circle, especially sitting down with her. It’s just like making the decision to which college you want to go to. Me and her did some talking, and I prayed on it. I talked to my high school coach, Steve, who played overseas, and then I talked to a couple of guys in the G League who have experience. Ultimately, playing professional basketball has always been my dream. It’s always going to be the dream goal, always going to be the goal until I achieve it. This is going to put me one step closer to doing so.

“The G League will have the most to offer, considering that is the development league for the NBA,” he continued. “I will get more out of that than going overseas. The G League is the closest thing to the NBA. I see most guys now are spending time in the G League even after they went to school and the draft, so this gives me the chance to accelerate the process. There have been a lot of successful guys who have been brought up in the G League, and I’m confident that I will be one of them. I’m self-motivated because I know this is what I want to do for the rest of my life. This is how I want to make a living. This is how I want to provide for my family, and provide for my love of basketball. I’m not playing any games with this. I’m attacking this straight forward. I’m not maneuvering around this, take any side steps. I’m taking this head on. This is the decision that I made, and I know it will work. I know what I’m capable of doing, and I’m going to do just that.”
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April 21, 2018 | 10:03 pm EDT Update