Darius Bazley is a 17-year old high school basketball player, and a fantastic one. He had a strong showing in the McDonald’s All-American game (11 points, seven rebounds) and the 6-foot-9 forward is considered a Top 20 national recruit. He was slated to play for Syracuse next year, and given the Orange return their entire starting lineup, it’s safe to say Jim Boeheim had Final Four expectations.
But Bazley made the shocking decision to pass on Syracuse and college altogether, opting to play in the G-League. Without knowing his family’s financial situation, this is a bizarre decision, hopefully one he won’t regret.
Bazley is wiry, has a funky left-handed shot, but he’s freakishly talented. So what’s the problem? He can dominate in an AAU setting where no defense is being played and it’s mostly a 1-on-1 affair. We don’t know how he will fit into a structured offense, or how interested he is in playing defense.
The part that really scares me is that fact that Bazley – who turns 18 this summer – will be playing against men in the G-League, much older players who range in age from 22-30. He’ll be at a massive disadvantage picking up schemes and doing simple things, like boxing out and posting up.
What happens if Bazley can barely see the court, or doesn’t have a good season? Are teams still going to take him in the lottery in 2019?
There isn’t any comparison for this, because Bazley is the 1st player to skip college for the G-League. Terrance Ferguson was going to play at Arizona in 2016, but then decided to play in the NBL in Australia, which I believe to be superior to the G-League. He averaged a modest 4.6 ppg, but because he’s a tremendous shooter, he was still taken in the 2017 draft (21st by OKC).
Bazley isn’t a shooter, so how will teams judge him if he struggles physically in the G-League?
This is a massive risk by Bazley. He will be the canary in the coal mine. What if he average 13-7 in 25 minutes a game at Syracuse, but was a vital cog and helped them get to the Final 4. Is there more value in that, or in averaging 4 ppg in the G-League playing 12 minutes a night?