Darius 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.”
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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.”
So, why is Bazley going this route? “It has nothing to do with the NCAA, kids not being paid or nothing like that, the system,” he said. “I could care less about that. … I am just trying to get to the NBA and stick. And I took this route because I thought this was the best way to get to the NBA and stick.”
Bazley said he isn’t trying to be a trendsetter and he doesn’t care about the naysayers. He believes the G League is the best move for him. “A lot of people are getting a lot of different things and takeaways from this,” Bazley said. “I am just doing what is best for me. That’s it. I’m not trying to go against the grain. I’m not trying to be a rebel. I am doing what is best for me and my family.”
Darius Bazley, who announced last month that he was forgoing his college eligibility to enter the upcoming NBA G League draft, could supplement his pro salary with endorsement deals, but has not begun that process yet, he tells ESPN “There’s no shoe deal I’m considering,” Bazley said. “I haven’t been contacted by anybody yet.”
While the draft likely won’t be held until October, Bazley could begin making money now with endorsement deals, but he remains focused on his on-court prospects. “If the opportunity does present itself and I do have an agent by [the G League season], then we’ll discuss things and try to get the best deal out of it for both sides,” he said. “I’m still working on things agent wise with my family.”
When Princeton (Cincinnati) forward Darius Bazley, who is ranked No. 9 overall in the ESPN 100, announced March 29 that he would enter the G-League instead of suiting up at Syracuse next season, the consensus among elite underclassmen was, well, “Huh?” “I didn’t even know you could do that,” said Little Elm (Texas) point guard R.J. Hampton, who is ranked No. 2 overall in the ESPN 25 for 2020. “I had no idea.”
“Darius is changing the culture for high school guys,” Hampton said. “I think it will start a trend. It’s something I’ll at least think about when the time comes. Some people want to get to the NBA in different ways.”
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.”
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.”
One day after former Syracuse commit Darius Bazley announced he would skip college and play in the NBA G League instead, Kansas coach Bill Self said he’s not a fan of such a move. “I do believe kids should be able to go out of high school,” Self said here on the eve of his team’s national semifinal against Villanova.
Bill Self: ““I don’t believe that they should be able to go to the G League out of high school. To me putting themselves in a situation in the G League where they’re not eligible to be an NBA player, there will be a percentage of kids that make that decision — whether it be academic, whether it be whatever decisions — that will never ever experience being an NBA basketball player. And then what do they have when that’s gone?
David Baumann: Jim Boeheim just told @AnezSez & @ESPN580Nick this about the big name de-commitment Darius Bazley: “It’s not the best way to get to the NBA… with the G League, there’s not that much structure… I think it’ll be one kid (isolated situation).” #Syracuse
Darius Bazley: Ready for the next chapter……. #GodsPlan #LEAGUEME
Adam Johnson: Bazley would be G League Draft eligible in October. He would not be NBA draft eligible until he turns 19 which would be after the NBAGL season. He would not be call-up eligible.
Darius Bazley answered that question Wednesday, by decomitting to Syracuse and declaring for the 2018–19 NBA G League season instead via Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports. According to league sources, others McDonald’s All-Americans are also considering the jump to the G League as well but have remained undecided about the venture.
Iowa Wolves head coach Scott Roth, however, doesn’t see it as a positive addition to the G League. “I think it’d be disastrous,” Roth told 2 Ways & 10 Days last week when the Wolves visited Santa Cruz. “I think at the end of the day, and I’ve said this before, (G League) is the toughest league in the world.”
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.”
NBA executives believe he can be one of the best players in the 2019 draft. At 6-foot-9, Bazley has the potential to be a dynamic playmaker, ball-handler in the open floor and defensive force. Bazley turns 18 in June and will then be eligible to formally sign a G League contract in September and enter the league’s annual draft in October.
Adam Johnson: Less exposure in the G League for 18 year olds? Perhaps. But I think it’s the type of exposure that matters. For 18 year olds, you’re playing in front of scouts every night.
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April 21, 2018 | 10:03 pm EDT Update
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