A report came out today that Arizona commit Terrence Ferguson, a top 15 prospect from Texas, is expected to spend his one-and-done season overseas.
There are also rumors that Ferguson could end up signing a sponsorship deal with Under Armour and find himself playing his one season of pro ball before entering the NBA Draft in Australia.
But that’s neither here nor there.
Because the topic here is that, for the third time, an elite high school basketball prospect is heading to the professional ranks instead of playing college basketball. Brandon Jennings, who was then the No. 1 recruit in the country and, coincidentally, an Arizona commit, spent a year playing professionally in Italy while Mudiay did his American hoops sabbatical in China. Jennings went on to become a lottery pick, make a lot of money from Under Armour, sign a big contract with the Milwaukee Bucks and, eventually, fade back into basketball obscurity; he’s 26 years old and started a total of seven games for the Pistons and the Magic last season.
Mudiay is also doing well for himself. He was the seventh pick in the draft after an uninspiring season in China, but bounced back to averaged 12.8 points and 5.5 assists as a rookie.
Put it all together, and this has the makings of a trend, doesn’t it?
There’s another trend here as well. Jennings and Mudiay both made the decision to head overseas while facing questions about their college eligibility. Jennings had his standardized test scores flagged. Mudiay went to Prime Prep Academy, a “high school” that didn’t exactly pass the smell test. What’s more, Ferguson’s high school — Advanced Preparatory Insititute — is essentially the remnants of Prime Prep, and the rumor that Ferguson would never get cleared to play in college has been around ever since he opted not to transfer out of that program.
Then throw in the fact that Arizona accepted Ferguson’s commitment despite their glut of talented wings — Rawle Alkins (who is facing his own eligibility question marks), Ray Smith, Allonzo Trier, Kobi Simmons — and the pieces start falling into place.
Assuming Meyer’s report is correct, Ferguson isn’t making a mad-dash to capitalize monetarily on his basketball ability.
He’s being forced to the second-best option for a high school basketball star because there’s a very real chance that the NCAA won’t allow him to participate in the best option: Being a one-and-done superstar in college.
That’s the trend here.
Elite American basketball prospects have a better option than sitting out as partial qualifiers.
It’s nothing more than that.