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NBA and players’ union ‘are expected to drop minimum draft age from 19 to 18’

The NBA and the players’ union are reportedly expected to lower the league’s minimum draft age to 18, allowing players to jump straight from high school to the draft as they once did before 2005.

Both the league and the NBA Players Association have the option to opt out of the current collective bargaining agreement by Dec. 15, and with that in mind have been motivated to create a path from high school to the NBA, according to The Athletic.

A league spokesman did not immediately respond to DailyMail.com’s request for comment.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver's as well as NBPA executive director Tamika Tremaglio and her team will meet again this week, according to The Athletic.  The league recently sent proposals for a new CBA to the union
NBA commissioner Adam Silver's as well as NBPA executive director Tamika Tremaglio and her team will meet again this week, according to The Athletic.  The league recently sent proposals for a new CBA to the union
NBPA Executive Director Tamika Tremaglio
NBPA Executive Director Tamika Tremaglio

NBA commissioner Adam Silver’s office, as well as NBPA executive director Tamika Tremaglio (right) and her team, are meeting again this week, according to The Athletic. The league recently sent proposals for a new CBA to the union

Other potential NBA stars could benefit from the change, such as Naasir Cunningham (pictured), considered by many to be the top boys basketball recruit in the country
Other potential NBA stars could benefit from the change, such as Naasir Cunningham (pictured), considered by many to be the top boys basketball recruit in the country

Other potential NBA stars could benefit from the change, such as Naasir Cunningham (pictured), considered by many to be the top boys basketball recruit in the country

NBA commissioner Adam Silver’s office, as well as NBPA executive director Tamika Tremaglio and her team, will meet again this week, according to The Athletic. The league recently sent proposals for a new CBA to the union.

Silver said in July that he was “hopeful” that the so-called ‘one-and-done’ rule, which effectively creates a minimum age of 19 for the draft, could be addressed in this bargaining cycle.

Any changes won’t take effect until 2024, so LeBron James’ blue chip prospect son, Bronny, is unlikely to enter the league earlier than he otherwise would have. Bronny, a 17-year-old senior at Sierra Canyon School in California, is already projected to be in the NBA Draft class of 2024. He recently visited Ohio State and is also rumored to have interest from Duke, Kansas and USC.

Other potential NBA stars could benefit from the change, such as Naasir Cunningham, considered by many to be the top boys basketball recruit in the country. At 6-foot-7, Cunningham is a wing player with good shooting range and the highest-ranked prospect to sign with the fledgling league. ESPN projections rate Cunningham as a future lottery pick.

Additional 2024 18-year-old NBA Draft prospects include Mali’s Bassala Bagayoka, Dallas’ Tre Johnson and Indiana’s Flory Bidunga.

Interestingly, Cunningham has technically already left high school to sign with fledgling Overtime Elite as he continues to train for a future in the NBA.

Cunningham (Class of 2024) is forgoing a salary at the Overtime Elite academy so he can maintain college eligibility, according to ESPN. The NCAA previously approved a “scholarship” for the 16-18-year-old athletes in the program. Overtime Elite (OTE) includes academic programs and a focus on developing future professional athletes.

Overtime, a sports media company, launched Overtime Elite (OTE) in March 2021 to target blue chip boys basketball prospects between the ages of 16 and 18 with the lure of a $100,000 salary, minimum health and disability insurance and some college tuition money.

The league also claims to offer players better training resources than many of the NCAA’s top programs.

OTE is one of several leagues emerging in response to the NBA’s controversial one-and-done rule, which effectively creates a minimum age of 19 to enter the draft.

Right now, the league requires players to be one year removed from their high school graduation before they can declare for the draft, effectively requiring elite prospects to play a single year of college ball or find another league to play in.

Similar to OTE, the NBA tries to accommodate players who want to forgo college through its own Professional Pathway Program (PPP).

As of 2018, select players had the chance to earn $125,000 for a season and a career scholarship after playing at Arizona State by joining the PPP.

The problem was that young recruits weren’t interested at first.

Things began to change after Australia’s National Basketball League lured top American recruits LaMelo Ball and RJ Hampton to the Southern Hemisphere for the 2019-20 season (both were drafted by NBA teams in June 2020, with Ball winning the NBA’s Rookie of the Year in 2021). Other American players had previously played overseas instead of enrolling in college, but the NBL’s Next Stars Program was the first targeted effort by a foreign professional league to attract top recruits.

In response, the NBA created the G League’s Ignite team — a special developmental league club for professional Pathway players who can earn much more than the $125,000 offered in 2018.

Jalen Green, the Ignite’s top recruit for its first season, reportedly earned more than $500,000 instead of playing NCAA basketball in 2020-21. He recently finished his rookie season with the NBA’s Houston Rockets.

“We created team Ignite in the G League as an option for players who choose not to go to college and want to go pro,” Silver said. ‘They can go straight into the G League and be well compensated.’

THE DILEMMA ONE AND DONE

By Alex Raskin, Sports News Editor for DailyMail.com

The G League Professional Pathway program, Overtime Elite and their predecessor, Australia’s Next Stars program in the National Basketball League, are the direct result of the NBA’s controversial one-and-done policy, which effectively set the minimum age at 19.

Before 2005, top high schools were allowed to jump to the pros, but NBA teams struggled to separate future All-Stars like LeBron James and Kobe Bryant from cautionary tales like Kwame Brown or Eddy Curry who struggled with maturity and fell short of expectations .

“I just think these guys, when they hit the pro ranks at 18, 19, they’re completely unprepared for life as an adult,” Basketball Hall of Famer and retired high school coach Bob Hurley Sr. told the Daily Mail.

Former top overall pick Kwame Brown (left) had an unremarkable 12-year NBA career before retiring in 2013
Former top overall pick Kwame Brown (left) had an unremarkable 12-year NBA career before retiring in 2013
In this Jan. 19, 1996, file photo, Kobe Bryant dunks the ball in his Lower Merion high school gym during a practice
In this Jan. 19, 1996, file photo, Kobe Bryant dunks the ball in his Lower Merion high school gym during a practice

Not every preps-to-pros player is Kobe Bryant (right). Former top overall pick Kwame Brown (left) had an unremarkable 12-year NBA career before retiring in 2013

To reduce the risk, the NBA’s new collective bargaining agreement in 2005 mandated that players be one year removed from their high school graduation before they can declare for the draft.

This rule ushered in a new era where top recruits began taking a one-year detour through college only to dabble in the NBA without any long-term consideration for the institution.

“There’s obviously a handful of kids who hate college, hate school, so they play college basketball, but it’s a charade because they’re not really invested in a college education,” said the former St. John’s coach Fran Fraschilla to the Daily Mail in 2020.

Fraschilla, now an analyst for ESPN, estimated that ’95 percent’ of the players he comes into contact with are focused on their education, adding that few are considered “one-and-done” talents .

The one-and-done rule also failed to curb the tradition of high school recruits violating NCAA rules by receiving improper benefits to attend specific colleges, as a federal investigation revealed in 2017.

LeBron James plays at Akron's St.  Vincent-St.  Mary as an 18-year-old in 2003
LeBron James plays at Akron's St.  Vincent-St.  Mary as an 18-year-old in 2003

LeBron James plays at Akron’s St. Vincent-St. Mary as an 18-year-old in 2003

And according to the NCAA’s College Basketball Commission, which was formed in response to the federal investigation and is chaired by Condoleezza Rice, the one-and-done rule actually exacerbated the problem.

“One-and-done has played a significant role in corrupting and destabilizing college basketball, limiting player choice, and undermining college basketball’s relationship to the mission of higher education,” a 2018 commissioner proposal read.

Although NBA commissioner Adam Silver said he hopes to work with players and owners to change the one-and-done policy, the rule has remained on the books in the meantime.

However, seeing the need for middle ground, the NBL, Overtime Elite and the NBA’s G League decided to offer an alternative to college ball and all its related restrictions.

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