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NBA and Players’ Union ‘expected to lower minimum draft age from 19 to 18’

The NBA and players’ union are reportedly expected to lower the league’s minimum draft age to 18 so prospects can jump straight from high school to the draft, as they once did before 2005.

Both the league and the NBA Players Association have an opportunity to opt out of the current contract by Dec. 15, and with that in mind, they were motivated to create a path from high school to the NBA, according to The Athletic.

The league spokesman did not immediately respond to’s request for comment.

According to The Athletic, the office of NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and NBPA Executive Director Tamika Tremaglio and her team will meet again this week. The league recently sent proposals for a new collective agreement to the union.

Silver said in July he was “hopeful” that the so-called “one and done” rule, which effectively creates a minimum draft age of 19, could be addressed in this collective bargaining cycle.

Any change wouldn’t go into effect until 2024, so LeBron James’ prospective blue-chip son, Bronny, likely won’t be joining the league any sooner than he otherwise would have. Bronny, a 17-year-old senior at California’s Sierra Canyon School, is expected to be in the NBA draft class as early as 2024. He recently visited Ohio State and is also said to have interests from Duke, Kansas and USC.

Other would-be NBA stars could benefit from the change, such as Naasir Cunningham, who is considered by many to be the best all-boys basketball recruit in the country. At 6-foot-7, Cunningham is a long-range winger with the highest-ranking prospect of signing with the burgeoning league. ESPN predictions rate Cunningham as a future lottery pick.

Other prospects entering the 2024 NBA draft at 18 include Dallas’ Tre Johnson and Indiana’s Flory Bidunga.

Interestingly, Cunningham has technically already left high school to sign with the burgeoning Overtime Elite while continuing to train for a future in the NBA.

Cunningham (class of 2024) is waiving a salary from Overtime Elite Academy so he can maintain college eligibility ESPN. The NCAA previously approved a “scholarship” option for the program’s 16- to 18-year-old athletes. Overtime Elite (OTE) includes academic programs and a focus on developing future professional athletes.

Overtime, a sports media company, launched Overtime Elite (OTE) in March 2021 to target high-profile basketball boys between the ages of 16 and 18 with a salary of $100,000, minimum salary, health and disability insurance, and some tuition money .

The league also claims to offer players better training resources than many of the NCAA’s top programs.

OTE is one of several leagues that emerged in response to the NBA’s controversial one-and-done rule, which effectively mandates a draft draft age of 19.

Currently, the league requires players to be a year away from completing their high school class before they can register for the draft, effectively requiring elite prospects to play college ball for a single year or find another league to play in that they can play.

Similar to the OTE, the NBA seeks to accommodate players who wish to skip college through its own Professional Pathway Program (PPP).

As of 2018, select players had an opportunity to earn $125,000 for a season and a career scholarship in the state of Arizona by joining the PPP.

The problem was that young recruits were not interested at first.

Things started to change after Australia’s National Basketball League lured top American recruits LaMelo Ball and RJ Hampton to the Southern Hemisphere for the 2019-20 season (both drafted by NBA teams in June 2020, with Ball in 2021 won NBA Rookie of the Year). Other US prospects had previously played abroad rather than enroll in college, but the NBL’s Next Stars program was the first deliberate effort by a foreign professional league to attract top recruits.

In response, the NBA formed the G League’s Ignite team — a special club in the developmental league for professional pathway players who can earn much more than the $125,000 offered in 2018.

Jalen Green, Ignite’s top recruit for its inaugural season, reportedly made more than $500,000 instead of playing NCAA basketball in 2020-21. He recently finished his rookie season with the NBA’s Houston Rockets.

“We created Team Ignite in the G League as an opportunity for players who choose not to go to college and want to go pro,” said Silver. “They can go straight to G-League and be well compensated.”

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