Darius Bazley to Forgo G League, Spend Year Preparing for 2019 NBA Draft

    After five-star Syracuse recruit Darius Bazley spurned college basketball for the G League this spring, Bazley told Stadium’s Shams Charania he will not

    September 6, 2018

    After five-star Syracuse recruit Darius Bazley spurned college basketball for the G League this spring, Bazley told Stadium’s Shams Charania he will not play in the G League and instead focus on training for the 2019 NBA draft.

    “We just weighed out the options and felt like me just being able to work out would probably be best,” Bazley told Charania.

    “There’s always a possibility you could go to a G League team and get too caught up in that, or you may not get the right development you would have had.”

    Bazley, a McDonald’s All-American and the top recruit in Ohio, committed to Syracuse last November. He walked back on his commitment in March to pursue the NBA G League instead. As a “one-and-done” talent, Bazley initially chose to spend his year in the G League as opposed to playing basketball overseas or in college. Now, Bazley is avoiding an organized league entirely and training on his own.

    Bazley’s decision isn’t unprecedented, but it’s not a widely chosen route. Knicks 2018 second-round pick Mitchell Robinson initially committed to Western Kentucky, but decided to train for the 2018 NBA draft on his own after he was dismissed from WKU and would have had to sit out a year if he transferred. Like Bazley, Robinson was a five-star recruit and a McDonald’s All-American. Current NBA players Brandon Jennings, Terrence Ferguson and Emmanuel Mudiay all opted to play overseas instead of going to college for a year, but none of them took the year off from competitive basketball entirely.

    “I know there’s gonna be ups and downs,” Bazley told Charania. “Taking this route… I knew that I was going to have to be level-headed and strong and mentally tough to get through this.”

    Bazley is expected to be a top-10 pick in the 2019 draft. He has the potential to be a two-way star with his playmaking ability and defensive prowess. In his senior season at Princeton High School, Bazley averaged 15.3 points, 3.8 assists, 10.5 rebounds and 2.0 blocks per game. He led the conference in assists, rebounds and blocks per game and was fifth in scoring.

    This decision has ramifications across all three levels of basketball. Top high school players could follow Bazley’s path and work on their own to prepare for the draft instead of pursuing a year in college, the G League or a league overseas. This will force college coaches to sell top recruits on their ability to not only get the player ready for the pros, but to also be able to lift the player’s draft stock in the process.

    If players train on their own and essentially take a year off from competitive basketball, will NBA scouts and general managers feel they can evaluate the prospect fairly? Does a player’s year-old high school tape accurately reflect his abilities on draft day?

    Conversely, with the NBA reportedly considering eliminating the “one-and-done” rule entirely, Bazley’s decision might not have as big an impact as expected. If the rule, which is a combination of an age limit and a gap of one NBA season occurring from the player’s final year in high school, is eliminated, it would end the need for players like Bazley to spend a year away from the NBA draft.

    If Bazley successfully maintains his draft stock, it could result in top high school players following his lead. If he falls in the draft, players could opt for competitive hoops after high school. Regardless of the end result, Bazley’s decision has created yet another avenue for high-profile NBA prospects to reach the league.


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