LeBron James can now be counted among the many decrying the NCAA and college basketball on Tuesday, calling for alternatives to the organization as a means to develop basketball talent in America.
James jumped right from high school into the NBA Draft in 2003, so he didn’t have to deal with the NCAA. But others that followed him were not so lucky. The NBA eligibility rules were changed in 2006, and a number of NBA superstars since were forced into college hoops for at least one season.
A growing number of them, including Sixers forward Ben Simmons, have had harsh things to say about the one-and-done rule and the NCAA as a whole, especially in the wake of an FBI investigation into major Division I programs like Louisville and Arizona, where scandals are still being dealt with while other programs worry they might be next.
On Tuesday, James joined that chorus of NBA players criticizing the organization, calling the NCAA “corrupt” and urging the NBA to develop its own “farm teams” for talent so they don’t have to depend on college athletics to prepare the league’s players.
“NCAA is corrupt. We know that,” James said. “I’m sorry. It’s gonna make headlines, but it’s corrupt.”
James also went on to say that the NBA needs to worry about itself and continue to develop its G League to put young talent in the NBA by making a “farm system” that can be a better talent incubator than the NCAA.
“First of all every NBA team has to have its own farm system,” James said. “We’re almost there, but we’re not quite there yet. I’m not quite sure it’s 30 and it’s not one team per as of yet, but we’re getting there.”
James pointed to a number of players who have come through the G League system and said the league is getting better, but that there’s a lot of improvement they can make. And he’s right: the G League won’t replace the NCAA as a developmental system anytime soon, but comments like this — and the elimination of the one-and-done — might open up that door.
Or maybe everyone will just go to LaVar Ball’s league after all. Who knows?