An interesting report from The Vertical was published this afternoon, looking into the potential of NBA academies the league plans on setting up overseas.
For the most part, it’s a way to try and help parts of the world that are high on raw talent and low on new-age development and coaching methods produce better basketball players. Remember all that talk about how players are developed so much better overseas?
They aren’t, and these academies are proof of that.
So why am I writing about this on a college basketball website?
Because these academies will have an impact on the college game, one that is slowly adding more and more foreign players every year. From The Vertical’s Jonathan Givony:
The global academies could significantly increase the pool of eligible athletes for college basketball. The NBA will identify potential prospects early, and place them into educational structures to prepare them to meet NCAA academic guidelines.
Elite prospects could feel less compelled to sign with professional agents and enter into contracts with professional basketball teams overseas, which is a common practice now. Under the new system, amateur statuses can be preserved.
Especially in Africa, the NBA academies promise to expand options for young players turning 18 years old. This could dramatically transform the landscape of college basketball.
“Dramatically transform” seems a bit drastic, as the majority of the world’s best basketball players come from this country. That’s not going to change, but access to the talent pools abroad will continue to get easier. We’re already seeing the impact here, as just this season a pair of European freshmen — Arizona’s Lauri Markkanen, N.C. State’s Omer Yurtseven — have a chance to be one-and-done products. Then look at St. Mary’s, who has used an Australian pipeline to turn the program into a rival of Gonzaga in the WCC.
Smart mid-majors will find a way to replicate that process, and we’ll likely see more potential first round picks from overseas play here for a year or two. And to be perfectly frank, that’s a good thing for the game. After all, better basketball players makes for a better basketball product.
What will be interesting is whether or not the next step of this will be to establish similar academies in the United States. At some point, you have to figure that NBA teams believe they can develop American youth talent better than the prep school programs and AAU team.