Why the nation’s top prep player is opting for the G League

With Jalen Green announcing he’s bypassing college and joining the NBA’s G League for the 2020-21 season, he’s attempting to forge a new path for elite prospects.

The five-star recruit who is ranked No. 2 in the 2020 high school class by has reached a substantial six-figure deal, sources said, to partner with the G League for a year before entering the 2021 NBA draft, where he’s a candidate to be the No. 1 overall pick.

The G League will create a “Select Team” in a designated city with a few roster spots for elite high school players who want to play professionally instead of going to college, sources said. The rest of the roster will be made up of veteran players.

Green, a 6-foot-6 shooting guard from Fresno, California, will serve as the face of this unique new pathway to the NBA. The G League is also offering Green a full scholarship if he wants to obtain his college degree.

“I wanted to get better overall and prepare myself for the NBA because that’s my ultimate goal,” Green told Yahoo Sports. “Everything was planned out right and set up for me to succeed. I think this was a good decision at the end of the day. I’m still going to be able to go back to college and finish school. So, it’s not really that I’m missing out on college because I can go back and finish whenever I need to. School is a big thing in my family.”

Green, 18, told Yahoo Sports that Memphis, led by head coach Penny Hardaway, would have been his choice had he chosen to go to college.

SPRINGFIELD, MA - JANUARY 19: Prolific Prep Crews guard Jalen Green (4) is pictured during the first half of the Spalding Hoophall Classic high school basketball game between the Prolific Prep Crew and La Lumiere Lakers on January 19, 2020 at Blake Arena in Springfield, MA (Photo by John Jones/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Jalen Green has a chance to be the No. 1 overall pick in the 2021 NBA draft. (Photo by John Jones/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The developmental team concept, spearheaded by G League president Shareef Abdur-Rahim, has been in the works for a few years. In 2018, it was announced that the league would offer elite prospects $125,000, but Green’s salary is substantially north of that figure, sources said.

“Of course, the money is better than an average G League contract,” Green’s stepfather, Marcus Greene, told Yahoo Sports. “This is an opportunity to develop for the next level and to show other kids alternative ways to develop your own career and brands.”

The “Select Team” will play a reduced schedule of about 20 games, sources said, which is much fewer than the league’s 50-game schedule.

Agent Aaron Goodwin introduced this opportunity to the family and is advising them during the process. Greene told Yahoo Sports the family will be hiring Goodwin to be Green’s agent. Goodwin represented the last two No. 1 picks to make the leap from high school to the NBA: LeBron James and Dwight Howard.

“This is a concept I have researched for the last few years,” Goodwin told Yahoo Sports. “I didn’t like the idea of high school kids going to play overseas to avoid the one year post-high school needed to be eligible for the NBA draft. I began having conversations with Shareef and exploring ways the G League could become a vehicle to give elite high school players an avenue to develop their skills under NBA development coaches, play against NBA-level competition, all while getting the mentoring young men need to succeed on the NBA level. Jalen is the perfect young man to start this program.”

Will this be the new trend for elite high school prospects? It will all depend on how well Green manages the transition and where he is drafted.

“It’s going to be a lot of pressure, but at the same time, I think I’ll handle it well,” Green told Yahoo Sports. “I’ve been handling the attention since the ninth grade, so I’m pretty used to it. I got a small circle that keeps my head right. I think I’ll be fine. Hopefully, everything goes right so players can take this route in the future.”

Green played his first three seasons at San Joaquin Memorial High School in Fresno before transferring to Prolific Prep in Napa, California, for his senior year. He averaged 31.5 points, 7.5 rebounds and five assists this past season and was names Sports Illustrated All-American Player of the Year.

“We’re definitely relieved he made a decision,” his mother, Bree Purganan, told Yahoo Sports. “For him to finally be able to pinpoint it down to what he wants to do and not have to question or guess or get more advice or more information, I’m glad that it’s over for him and that he’s starting a new chapter.”

With no postseason to prepare for and no graduation to attend because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Green was able to focus on his decision.

“It’s a great opportunity for me,” Green told Yahoo Sports. “I could have gone down other paths, but this one right here is leading me to my goal of playing in the NBA. And to make it out of Fresno is a big deal because a lot of people get sidetracked and caught up in stuff.

“But for what I’m doing, I would advise some of the top guys to do the same. If everything works out for me in the G League, I would definitely advise guys to take this approach.”

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