PORTLAND, Ore. --"I look at it as an investment in myself."
Five-star senior forward Darius Bazley may only be 17 years old, but he's blazing a new path by skipping college ball at Syracuse to play in the NBA's Developmental League, the G League. He did not do so without weighing out all of his options and thinking critically about what route would be best for him.
In Portland for the Nike Hoop Summit, the No. 9 player in the class of 2018 discussed his decision to skip school for the G League in depth. The initial idea came from his mother and his coach at Cincinnati (Ohio) Princeton.
“My mom and my high school coach came to me, I don’t really know the exact date," Bazley told Rivals.com. "I want to say it was around two months ago and we started talking about it."
The talking turned to action two weeks ago. What was most interesting about Bazley's decision is that he chose to say specifically that he was going to play in the G League instead of pursuing what could be more financially lucrative offers overseas.
“I took (0verseas) into consideration and that’s why I said G League," said Bazley. "I thought about all the options going into this, but the G League is the right choice for me as far as development.
"I’m not worried about the quick money at all because I feel like my end goal is to get to the NBA. Yeah, something like $500,000 would be nice, but I don’t know about my development. I think about it like this: I can go overseas and get $500,000 and maybe not get half of the development that I will get in the G League making $26,000. That G League could end up turning me into a $100 million player versus going overseas and turning into a $25 million player.”
Bazley is not in a rush to be rich, but is committed to maximizing his long term potential.
“I just feel that instant gratification isn’t something that I’m looking for," said Bazley. "At the end of the day, I am 17 and that G League money is still an eye-opener for me.
“I really thought it out myself. When I was thinking of it I was like overseas does pay a lot of money but then I realized the development in the G League would be way better for me as far as I know."
Bazley is a big-time athlete, can defend multiple positions and is an excellent scorer in transition. Some may be skeptical of the move because of his lack of strength.
Bazley's peers have been very supportive. Will others follow in his footsteps? Bazley isn't sure but thinks a change to the options available to elite prospects directly after high school is coming one way or another.
“They are pulling for me and they hope it works out. Some have spoken out and told me congrats and just telling me that things will work out. None of my peers have had negative comments about it and everybody is pretty positive and trying to keep me uplifted.
“I think it will open eyes, especially if I’m successful. I think the NBA is going to get rid of the one-and-done rule anyway, pretty soon. So I don’t know if it will matter. If anything it could maybe speed it up but I don’t think a lot of guys will follow in my path because the NBA will be opening it up.”