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BTP The Offseason, Day 33: The NBA goes fishing for youths

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Golden State Warriors vs the Washington Bullets in Game 3 of the NBA championship. Clifford Ray over Kevin Porter ;Photos shot 05/23/1975 Photo by Stephanie Maze/San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images

An interesting development out of the NBA that you may have seen this week: the league has a new, more robust professional pathway program aimed at the country’s top prep prospects. Elite 2021 NBA Draft prospect Jalen Green will spend a year in this program rather than a year in college, and among other things, he’ll have the benefit of making $500,000 or more.

The NBA also ain’t messing around in targeting other top high school players.

This will have an obvious impact on college basketball, though probably not a substantial one. Partly this will just capture some kids who would have played pro overseas and never would have been in college anyway. And there aren’t that many kids who are really good enough for this route right away.

Assuming the one-and-done rule is eventually going away, we’re basically just getting a preview of life after that barrier has been removed.

College hoops will lose out on some incredible talent, but then again one-and-done players rarely define the sport because they’re here and gone so quickly. I don’t think this is an existential question for the NCAA.

I think Rob Dauster has this right: the NCAA needs to be more concerned about the kids who are leaving and going undrafted. They are far more numerous and wreak far more havoc on the overall quality of college basketball from year to year. The NCAA needs to figure out a compensation plan (beginning with name, image, and likeness rights) to address those players who seem compelled to roll the dice and turn pro no matter what, because that’s still a better deal in their eyes than staying in college and making no money.

This is a group of established good-to-very-good college players who are name brands in the sport but aren’t necessarily strong NBA Draft prospects. Giving them a good reason to spend more time at the college level would do a lot for the quality of the game.