Photo: Ronald Martinez (Getty)

The NBA’s developmental league has unveiled a program that could greatly loosen the NCAA’s grip on top high school basketball prospects. The league will begin offering what it calls “Select Contracts” that pay $125,000 for one year to just-graduated high school players who would rather forgo a one-and-done year at the college level.

There are still details that need to be worked out, such as how the league will go about determining which players are worthy of having a Select Contract offered to them, but here’s how the plan looks right now:

  • Contracts will only be available to players who are at least 18 years old and have not yet committed to a college program.
  • Players who sign will be able to hire agents, profit from their likeness, and sign various endorsement deals.
  • Players will only be allowed to play one season on a Select Contract, at which point they will be automatically entered into the next NBA draft.
  • Players will have access to various personal and professional development programs, including professional coaches and training staffs and academic scholarship opportunities.

This all seems like a pretty good deal, but the program’s effectiveness will depend on how many top high school prospects jump at the chance. Some might not be so inclined to skip out on the glamor that comes with playing at a big-time college program on national TV, and others might be worried about hurting their draft stock by playing against stiffer competition in the developmental league. Even the $125,000 salary may not be all that enticing, given what we know about how much money gets thrown around on the college recruitment circuit.

In an ideal scenario, top high school players would go on taking bribes from university bag men and shoe company flunkies who are after their signature, and then just go ahead and sign up with the developmental league anyway. This feels like a solution everyone can get behind until the NCAA, rookie age limit, and amateur draft are abolished entirely.

[ESPN]