In an interview at Cavaliers practice, Lebron James officially joined an increasing chorus of players that have called the NCAA corrupt, calling for the NBA to start considering other ways to develop players. James never attended college as he jumped straight from high school to the professional league in 2003. The NBA changed its eligibility rules in 2006, requiring players to play at least one season in college before making the jump to the pros.
Recently, many players including Lonzo Ball and Ben Simmons have begun to voice their anger and frustrations with the NCAA and how it hampers player development. Ball, the Lakers rookie and son of LaVar Ball, was asked if college players deserved to be paid, saying:
“I do. All the money they generate for the programs & stuff, it’s kind of an unfair system…Everybody knows everybody’s getting paid & that’s how it is. Everybody’s getting paid anyway. You might as well make it legal. That’s how I feel.”
In an interview with Uninterrupted, Simmons voiced his annoyance with the NCAA, saying he would have learned more in the pros than he did in college:
“I think I would have learned a lot more by being around professional athletes…Looking at it now, I don’t even know what I learned financially or just being a person at LSU. I think I’ve learned a lot more with this last year being in Philly and being a pro, than I did at LSU.”
James further clarified that the NBA should focus on the G-League (the NBA’s current minor league organization) and help build that up to direct emphasis on player development away from the NCAA. He said: “First of all every NBA team has to have its own farm system,” James said. “We’re almost there, but we’re not quite there yet. I’m not quite sure it’s 30 and it’s not one team per as of yet, but we’re getting there.”
The G-League has seen successful call-ups in the past such as Jeremy Lin, Hassan Whiteside and Danny Green, so maybe James is on to something here.