The NCAA's role of preparing top basketball talent for the NBA could be changing, according to ESPN's Brian Windhorst.
With the NCAA once again in the spotlight for reported widespread violations of amateurism rules, top officials from the NBA have been discussing ways to give elite high school players a different platform to get ready for the possibility of playing at the highest level.
"A plan is expected to include the NBA starting relationships with elite teenagers while they are in high school, providing skills to help them develop both on and off the court. It would ultimately open an alternate path to the NBA besides playing in college and a way 18-year-olds could earn a meaningful salary either from NBA teams or as part of an enhanced option in the developmental G League, sources said."
Essentially, Windhorst is saying the NBA could be on the verge of implementing ways to help train and teach elite prep players after high school.
For the best of the best, like LeBron James and Kobe Bryant, there could be way to make money without getting under-the-table payments from NCAA programs.
"A new plan could establish a way for the ultra-elite level of players such as Bryant or James to go to the NBA as 18-year-olds and also create a way for high school graduates who might not be ready to immediately go to the NBA to continue their development with NBA teams while enabling them to earn money that could help their families. This would be an alternative to college and perhaps the seedy and legally questionable world of looking for under-the-table payments."
ESPN's report comes on the heels of former President Barack Obama suggesting to an audience at MIT that the NCAA shouldn't serve "as a farm system for the NBA with a bunch of kids who are unpaid but are under enormous financial pressure," according to Reason.com.
Obama added that an alternative to the NCAA won't solve all the problems, but it will "reduce the hypocrisy" of trying to convince the public that some student-athletes aren't treated with favor.
Elite-level high school players haven't been allowed to enter the NBA Draft since 2005, when then-Commissioner David Stern invoked a rule that made players go to college for one year, or wait to enter the draft until they are 19 years old.
As a workaround to the NCAA, some fresh-out-of-high school stars have played overseas for a year, making millions of dollars, and then entering the draft a year later.
Minnesota has been rising on the national basketball scene with a number of high profile prep players in recent years, like Tyus Jones and Rashad Vaughn, who were both one-and-done college stars now in the NBA.