As more and more people realize how unjust the NCAA’s current collegiate sports system is alternative routes have been created, particularly for men’s basketball players. In addition to playing professional basketball overseas until eligible for the NBA Draft, options within the United States have been created.
NBA G-League Ignite
In 2018, the NBA announced that it was creating another opportunity for elite men’s basketball players outside of college athletics. The NBA G-League created the Pathways Program and the Ignite basketball team for players who would like to develop their skills as a professional basketball player before they are eligible for the NBA Draft. Participants in this programs have the opportunity to earn six-figure salaries. Since its inception, several players have joined the program. Specifically, last year Jalen Green, Isaiah Todd and Daishen Nix opted for the G-League. This year seems to be no different with five-star prospect Michael Foster Jr. opting for the to play with the NBA G-League’s Ignite team. Additionally, Fanbo Zeng has decided to play for NBA G-League’s Ignite team in lieu of playing college basketball for Gonzaga.
Professional Collegiate League
The Professional Collegiate League (PCL) hails itself as “the first collegiate basketball league to enable athletes to benefit directly from their talent, marketability, and hard work by offering "an education and compensation.” The league’s Chief Operating Officer and Director of Basketball Operations is two-time NBA Champion David West. The PCL plans to pay its players between $50,000 and $150,000 per year while also offering money to cover their players’ college tuition. Last month, the PCL announced that they have reached a media rights deal with Next Level Sports and Entertainment that will air the league’s game on its streaming platforms. The PCL plans for its first season to begin in August or September of 2021.
Overtime, a multimedia sports brand, is starting a professional basketball league as an alternative to college for high school basketball players. The program is called Overtime Elite and it will begin in September 2021. The program will feature 30 of the nation’s top prospects ages 16-18. The participating athletes will be payed $100,000 and be provided access to healthcare and disability. For athletes who choose not to pursue a career in the NBA, Overtime will pay the athletes $100,000 towards college tuition. Players who participate in Overtime Elite will forfeit their eligibility for high school or college basketball. Last month, Overtime raised $80 million in Series C funding from investors including Jeff Bezos, Drake, and over twenty-five current and former NBA players.