Players caught in eligibility limbo due to the federal investigation into corruption in college basketball do not have an off-ramp into the G League. And they’re not the only ones.
The NBA’s minor league has rejected inquiries from a number of players into the possibility of moving from the NCAA into the professional ranks due to a rule that prohibits players who enroll in school and are not deemed permanently ineligible from joining the league during that academic year, according to a report from ESPN’s Jonathan Givony.
It’s not only players caught up into the FBI probe that already resulted in 10 arrests and the ineligibility of players like Brian Bowen and De’Anthony Melton, but even the likes of Mitchell Robinson, who left Western Kentucky last fall, and LiAngelo Ball, who left UCLA for Lithuania voluntarily, according to ESPN.
Players caught up in the federal investigation, such as Melton, Bowen, Austin Wiley and Danjel Purifoy have been held out of competition, but have not been formally declared ineligible without chance of reinstatement by the NCAA.
“We’re not looking to compete with college basketball for their players,” the league source told ESPN for its report. “The NBA, specifically NBA lawyers, are concerned about the optics of NCAA players being disgruntled with minutes or coaching decisions and leaving college with the hopes of joining the G League. This is a blanket rule unfortunately that applies to all players.
“Like all of our rules, we are open to revisiting them if needed, but at the moment any player that was enrolled in a college this season is ineligible to play in our League.”
It’s certainly an interesting predicament for the league and players who wish to move on from college and have immediate professional opportunities stateside rather than going overseas or simply working out alone. The NBA seems concerned about a PR issue if players start dropping out of school during the season en masse, but it would seem to be in the league’s best interest to get as close a look at these draft-eligible players against competition that they’re more-easily evaluated against rather than simply guessing once teams get on the clock in June.