NBA Commissioner Adam Silver (as a proxy for the owners) has made getting the NBA age limit raised from 19 to 20 a priority. He’ll likely get it at some point, the only question is what the owners give back to the players in negotiations to make it happen.
But that action will have a reaction from some players.
Tuesday Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports reported the No. 2 recruit in the class just entering college, Emmanuel Mudiay, will be headed to China for a one-year, $1.2 million deal.
Mudiay, a 6-foot-5 guard, is considered a lottery pick in the Class of 2015… Mudiay has also taken out insurance policies to protect him in China against injury that could impact his future earnings, a source said.
Mudiay had been headed to Larry Brown and SMU in a year before choosing to get paid. He’s a shoot first point guard who can score, is big and athletic, and would have lifted SMU into the top 15 in the nation, according to Rob Dauster of CollegeBasketballTalk.com.
This is an experiment by Mudiay — a lot of veteran players who sign in China can’t stick because the culture change is so dramatic. There are high drop out rates, not everybody’s personality is such it handles that much change well. It’s also a gamble by the Chinese league and if this works out they may approach other potential college players in the future.
If the age limit goes up, expect to see more of this, or moves like it. The fact is college is not for everyone and should not be the only path available for top players
Most high schoolers on a path to be drafted will still choose two years of UCLA or Kentucky or wherever (certainly the longer stay is good for college coaches and that model as well). But more and more will look at their options for getting paid.
Teams from Europe, knowing they can get a player for two years, may be more willing to take a gamble on a talented young player and pay him. Same with China. In both cases it will take a mature, special personality to make it work but teams will look at options. Some players will choose the money and, in many cases, better player development overseas.
Another option will be the D-League — P.J. Hairston went this route this year, playing in Texas once he was forced out at North Carolina, and he stayed in the first round despite his off the court issues (he played well in the D-League then suddenly had issues after the draft). That doesn’t pay nearly as well as most overseas teams but it is some money and a chance to develop against bigger, stronger professional players that could benefit a lot of players.
Sonny Vaccaro has advocated more high schoolers heading overseas for years. Like college, it’s not for everyone — it’s a very different environment, overseas is a lot more practice and fewer games.
But for some players it is a legitimate option, and if the other choice is two years of college more and more players will choose getting paid.