Why Daishen Nix Heading To G League After Signing With UCLA Could Be A Bad Sign For University Coaches


College basketball coaches always have their hands full in the area of ​​recruiting. Between juggling with visits, going back and forth between events and the perspectives of scouts and maintaining relations with recruits (plus those related to them). Now they face another challenge in addition to trying to push back the college coaches they are constantly fighting with: the G League.

We’ve already seen five-star rookies Jalen Green and Isaiah Todd jump out of college for the NBA Development League this month alone, but Tuesday’s news from the five-star leader Daishen Nix pushes back UCLA for G League could be a moment of change for the sport. After all, Green had never signed up for college before making his decision, and Todd had signed up for Michigan but never signed his letter of intent. Nix’s decision was a complete departure. He signed up last summer and signed with the Bruins last fall. It wasn’t until almost a semester after signing in November that he jumped at the chance to join the popular Pathway program, the G League development initiative for elite high school players, who is now gaining ground in basketball circles.

For the G League, accepting players who have not signed a letter of intent and who still have their options open is one thing, but chasing prospects who have already signed with a college is another.

Imagine that you are the coach of UCLA Mick Cronin right now. You finish your first season by winning seven of your last eight games, getting closer to winning the Pac-12 and you’re on the rise, knowing that Nix – America’s No. 1 leader – is about to to register.

Then your most popular recruits for the G League.

April is never the time to deploy a backup plan in recruitment, even less in the context of a global health crisis.

It leaves UCLA without a key part at the worst possible time. Not only is recruiting in person of any kind at this time almost impossible due to the extension of the NCAA recruitment dead period due to the COVID-19 pandemic until May 31, but even if was possible to coordinate visits, the moment is just as brutal as the transaction, since each top-100 leader in the 2020 cycle has already made its commitment.

When a coach wants to accelerate the growth of a program, we have seen over the years that he plays with renowned recruits to gain traction and, in turn, try to win big – immediately. Nix was Cronin’s: the pawn to reconstruct a basketball renaissance in Westwood. Last year, it was James Wiseman of Memphis for Penny Hardaway. Next season is Cade Cunningham for Mike Boynton of Oklahoma State and Evan Mobley for Andy Enfield of USC. But what path will coaches continue to explore? Is it worth it?

What Cronin faces can creep into the minds of other college coaches and go beyond a popular plan often used to launch a program. It is one thing to try to push the field of other college coaches who can offer more playing time, better facilities, more hired staff. Trying to push the G League Pathway program, which can offer hundreds of thousands of dollars to recruits as a college alternative, is another thing altogether, with the goal of the program focused on preparation like a pro, be supervised by pros, and oh: don’t go to school. For some, this can be as attractive as the financial windfall. Getting paid for not going to school? Yeah, it’s not such a bad alternative.

The security of getting lesser-known rookie engagements for college coaches can suddenly outweigh the risk / reward proposition of getting a 10-caliber player who could sign up, sign up and ultimately switch to the G League . Of course, the top 10 could be a game-changer. But he could also be a last-minute flip like Nix, who leaves a coach holding flowers at the altar. These renowned recruits that university coaches are looking for – the infallible infallible talent and the infallible potential talent – are the same prospects that the G League Pathway program will target as it turns into a reputable offering that delivers what the college does legally cannot: cold hard cash.

It wasn’t supposed to be the university against the G League. Years ago, there was a concise mission to avoid recruiting against college players. But to start the program, there is an overlap with Nix. Whether the G League drew him away from the UCLA or that Nix himself sought out the G League, it seems inevitable that committed university players can follow the same path with more consistency.

However, not all high school elite talents will weigh their options between the G League and college and side with the former. This is a new program that has a lot of skeptics, including on the level of competition, the amount competition, coaching and training. Kentucky coach John Calipari was among those who expressed skepticism not in the program itself, but in the representation of the program and the way people will view it. In his weekly “Coffee With Cal” he went to the heart of the matter: the Pathway program is an option for elite talent, and many will not have this avenue as an alternative to consider.

“My problem with the G League trying to attract players by giving them more money, it’s not the kids you get,” Calipari said this week via Courier-Journal. “These are the thousands of ninth and tenth graders who think that’s how they’re going to be successful, when you and I know it’s going to be 2%. We are not talking about 50. It will be thousands and thousands and thousands. “

The truth is that we have never seen the program in action and this year will be the test race. Perhaps this is a success that keeps the pro prospects in the United States. It can be a flop that drives players of their ilk towards the NBL, like LaMelo Ball and RJ Hampton. But the success of Green, Nix and Todd could immediately buy believers and help speed up the program in the same way as if they had chosen to represent a college.

Don’t expect college coaches to be thrilled with the prospect of facing another opponent on the recruiting trail, with pockets deeper than any booster they have ever recruited against.


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