The G-League vs College Hoops Debate?
By TERRY LYONS, Editor-in-Chief
BOSTON – This week, the NBA’s G-League signed another top high school prospect in Daishen Nix who had previously committed (verbally) to attend UCLA this fall. Nix is the third top high school prospect to choose the G-League’s developmental route, causing college basketball coaches, like Kentucky’s John Calipari cause for concern. … “My issue with the G League trying to entice players by giving them more money, is not the kids that you’re getting,” Calipari said during his weekly “Coffee with Cal” web show. “It’s the thousands of ninth and 10th graders that think that’s how they’re going to make it, when you and I know it’s going to be 2%. We’re not talking 50. It will be thousands and thousands and thousands.” … Is that sound logic? … Don’t a LOT of junior high school and young high school athletes think they’re “NBA material” and doesn’t Calipari and dozens of other coaches recruit the same legion of high school kids via summer camps and clinics using the same exact message? ” The old, “look how many NBA stars “I’ve coached” message? … The NCAA and its Division I coaches have long said they didn’t like the NBA-NBA Players Association’s collectively bargained agreement to require one year after a player’s high school class had graduated for qualification to sign in the NBA. NCAA administrators claimed they didn’t want young athletes who were only going to stay one year (for fall/winter basketball) and then leave school to prep for the NBA. They can’t have it “both” ways.
Keep in mind the 1971 landmark (Spencer) Haywood vs. the National Basketball Association United States Supreme Court ruling set the law in place, not the NBA, nor the NCAA. … One other fact lost, is that the “thousands and thousands” of athletes that don’t make it via pro basketball can still attend college, junior college, community college but can not rely on a college basketball scholarship to do so. … Tuition money becomes the issue for some and that’s a cruel, hard fact of life, for many. … The viewpoint here? … It seems coaches (and some administrators) in the college ranks like to point the finger elsewhere. They like to blame the “big, bad wolf that, in their mind, is the NBA” for anything and everything that goes wrong in the recruiting process. They seek a scapegoat and the NBA or the “agents,” or “runners” or “shoe companies” are very easy targets to point the fingers elsewhere. … Only recently has the NCAA – via new name, image and likeness (NIL) framework – begun to address the changing times via sports business, massive broadcast platforms and “free” labor via their so-called “student-athlete” pool. … Yes, it’s a difficult problem, and ‘No,” there isn’t one right or wrong answer to the complex issues, but at least the NBA has built a viable solution and a new foundation to help alleviate the problems that surfaced via the “one and done” era. … Lastly, the proverbial “elephant in the room,” this year, is the all-out uncertainty of whether students will return to college campuses for classes and athletics in the fall/winter of 2020. A high school prospect – hoping for a year or two of the college experience – now has no idea what that might look like as his decision must be made. … The smart move? Take the money.
Here Now, The Notes: Very sad to read last Sunday of the passing of former Boston Herald NBA and Celtics beat reporter Mike Carey. … Carey passed after complications from a stroke he suffered last October. … Carey and former Chicago Sun-Times reporter Mark Vancil were subject matter in a recent episode of “The Last Dance” documentary which highlighted Michael Jordan‘s 63-point playoff game against the Celtics at Boston Garden back in 1986. … On the off-day of that NBA Playoff series, Carey and Vancil arranged a game of golf that also included then Cs guard Danny Ainge (now head of basketball ops) and Jordan. … As the documentary noted, when the round was complete, and the foursome dropped Ainge at his home, Jordan reportedly gave Ainge an advance notice for his teammate Dennis Johnson who had the primary assignment to guard Jordan stating, “Tell your boy, DJ, I got something for him tomorrow.” … Former Boston Celtics player and now well-regarded NBA coach Rick Carlisle of the Dallas Mavericks shared his thoughts and fond recollections of Carey via the Boston Globe this week. Carlisle told of a period when he was un-signed, contemplating the end of his career when Carey made a call to then-New Jersey Nets head coach Bill Fitch, suggesting the Nets sign Carlisle. … As time passed and the Nets had to waive Carlisle from the playing roster, instead of parting company, Fitch offered Carlisle his first assistant coaching job. … RIP Mike. Good man.
I ask all Bostonians viewing this column each week to indulge a few of my New York-isms. … This week’s check-in with St. John’s retired basketball coaching legend and Hall of Famer Lou Carnesecca by the NY Post was a breath of fresh air. … It followed-up nicely on a piece a couple weeks ago by NYC sportscaster Bruce Beck that aired on WNBC-TV 4 when Beck and his wife went out to Carnesecca’s Jamaica Estates home to check-in on the coach. … It brought back fond memories of time well-spent at Dante’s on Union Turnpike, a local Italian restaurant frequented by Carnesecca, StJ staff and the team (circa ’80s).
Bill Murray signature golf apparel sounds like a really bad idea. … Here are a few that might be worse: 1). Cheech & Chong at The Opera tuxedo line. 2). Rolling Stones drummer Charlie Watts’ “Air Guitar Hero” home video game. 3). Donald Trump endorsed casinos, airlines, steak knives and a University. … Oh, sorry. … Never mind. … Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear said that Churchill Downs “will be able to open its backstretch beginning May 11.” … Even the horses are concerned. … The Big 3’s season-opener at FedExForum (Memphis), originally scheduled for June 20, has been canceled. Fans who purchased tickets on Ticketmaster will be automatically refunded. The Big 3 was the first sports entity to initiate plans to begin play in the midst of the health crisis outbreak but nothing has surfaced since the initial claim. The Big 3 is a barnstorming group of retired pro basketball players.
The basketball-playing Ball brothers reportedly have new representation. … Jermaine Jackson, the manager of NBA draft prospect LaMelo Ball, told ESPN on Monday that LaMelo, Lonzo and LiAngelo Ball all reached agreements to join Roc Nation Sports, the agency overseen by media mogul Jay-Z. … “This was a family decision,” Jackson, a former NBA player, told ESPN. “This is now an extended family. They put together a beautiful game plan with Jay-Z. The basketball game is about to change. They are going to create something totally new.” … Roc Nation’s Raymond Brothers will serve as the main agent for the Ball brothers, according to Jackson. … Lonzo Ball, 22, is in the middle of his third NBA season, his first with the New Orleans Pelicans. He is averaging a career-high 12.4 points to go along with 6.2 rebounds, seven assists and 1.45 steals per game. … He played the previous two seasons with the Los Angeles Lakers, who selected him second overall in the 2017, before he was dealt to New Orleans in the Anthony Davis trade. … LiAngelo Ball, 21, had a brief stint at UCLA before playing in Lithuania and with the Los Angeles Ballers. Most recently, he was on the roster of the Oklahoma City Blue but had yet to get into a game with the G League team when play was halted due to the pandemic.
Is documentary producer Ken Burns the only person on the face of the earth who hasn’t liked The Last Dance? … We get his point, but c’mon?
Diamond Dust-Ups: Earlier this week, reports surfaced and Minor League Baseball (MiLB) denied an account that the 2020 season will be canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic. … The MiLB statement added, “No decision has been made as to when it will be safe to begin the 2020 season.” … The ‘dust-up” came from a series of tweets and a story by Joe E. Doyle of LookoutLanding.com, a blog about the Seattle Mariners hosted by SB Nation. … Doyle first tweeted, “BREAKING: Multiple agents receiving messaging today that there will NOT be a minor league season, rather, an MLB expanded roster and a developmental league playing out of (spring training) facilities.” … After other journalists disputed the report, Doyle tweeted, “I stand by my sources and this story completely. I was contacted independently by an agency representing four minor leaguers at advanced levels. I did not go seeking this information, it was brought to my desk. I cross-checked this with another agency representing two players.” … He added that his sources said they received informal messages about the season being canceled, not that they got any official notification. …Baseball America executive editor JJ Cooper and national writer Kyle Glaser, The Athletic baseball prospect writer Emily C. Waldon, and ESPN baseball writer Jeff Passan all refuted Doyle’s report.
Live professional baseball games could be televised in the United States as early as this week, with South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency reporting that ESPN and the Korea Baseball Organization are nearing an agreement. … KBO games could be broadcast on the cable network as early as May 5, when the season is set to start. The KBO season was scheduled to begin in late March, but has been put on hold because of the coronavirus pandemic. … A deal between ESPN and KBO reportedly fell apart last week when the network offered a percentage of revenue from broadcasts but no up-front payment. … The KBO season will start without fans in the stands. … After the crisis, only some live basketball and baseball (from Taiwan) has been televised in the US to date.
Baltimore Orioles outfielder and first baseman Trey Mancini revealed that he is in the midst of six months of chemotherapy as he fights Stage III colon cancer. … In an essay posted earlier this week by The Players’ Tribune, Mancini said his chemo treatments began April 13 and will take place every two weeks. … If baseball returns in 2020, it will probably be without me,” he wrote. … The cancer was discovered in spring training following a team physical and follow-up tests when his iron was too low. … “And without the Orioles I never would have caught this before it may have been too late. There was really no indication that anything was wrong other than me just feeling a little more tired than normal,” he wrote. “Everything that comes up when you google colon cancer? I didn’t have any of it. And so without that second blood test I probably would not have discovered the tumor until I had a total blockage of my colon. Instead, from the day I was diagnosed to when the tumor was removed was just six days – March 6 to March 12.” … He turned 28 on March 18. … Keep fighting, Trey.
This item a week late as it was heard just hours after publishing last Sunday’s notebook … Legendary retired LA Dodgers broadcaster Vin Scully was released from the hospital after suffering a fall at his Los Angeles-area home. … Scully, 92, released a statement through the team, stating: “My sincerest thanks to the LA County firemen and women who came to the rescue and always seem to be there when we need and to the excellent administration, doctors and nurses of Los Robles Hospital,” Scully said. “I am so eternally grateful for their help and selfless service. I’m home resting comfortably with my wife and we are both eagerly awaiting the Time for Dodger Baseball!” … Sincere best wishes to the Fordham man.
Digital Sports Desk posts a once-a-week Sunday Notes column entitled: “While We’re Young Ideas.” It’s a throwback of sorts to the days when sportswriting and the baseball beat were the best jobs in the entire sports industry, maybe the entire world. One of those sportswriters was named Dick Young and he wrote “Young Ideas” with a “Diamond Dust” section for notes and quotes. (We tag it Diamond Dust-Ups) … We continue that tradition with respects to the great New York sportswriter and welcome feedback and suggestions (psst, they call ’em pitches) for mentions within “While We’re Young Ideas” or Digital Sports Desk. Please follow and encourage (at least) another person or two to plug into (@DigSportsDesk) (@WhileYoungIdeas) and (@terrylyons).