The G League Ignite team and Overtime Elite team have emerged as alternate paths to the NBA other than college basketball. These two programs have been highly praised, but they are hardly the first successful alternative to college basketball. The NBL Next Stars Program has impacted things like betting websites in New Zealand like www.bestbettingsites.com/new-zealand. While college basketball remains the biggest path to the NBA, the NBL has put several players into the NBA as first-round selections. Programs like this helped forced the NCAA’s hand with the recent NIL changes in college sports.
Introducing ‘The Next Stars’, a new feature length documentary following LaMelo Ball, RJ Hampton, Didi Louzada & Terry Armstrong as they chased their NBA dreams ?
Catch it at @HoytsAustralia cinemas across from March 4 ?
— The NBL (@NBL) February 23, 2021
The G League and Overtime have signed many players over the past year, but the NBL Next Stars Program has been far more selective in their offers. Players must be eligible to declare for the NBA Draft and will then enter a process where they are and picked by an NBL appointed panel of experts. After being picked they will sign a contract with the league and then they will be placed on a roster in the NBL.
NBL Commissioner Jeremy Loeliger explained why he thinks this program is an attractive option to NBA prospects: “What we’re offering is an opportunity to play at a very high level in an English-speaking country in a competition that is almost a hybrid of European and American basketball. Australian basketball is known for being based on fundamentals and physicality, whereas Europe has always stood for discipline, technique, fundamentals. The U.S. is very much based on athleticism and raw talent.”
A top NBA draft prospect Terrance Ferguson (@the2kferguson) is putting on a show in Australia
— Def Pen Hoops (@DefPenHoops) November 24, 2016
The idea that became the NBL Next Stars Program all started with Terrance Ferguson’s decision years ago to forgo college and play in the NBL. His decision to bet on himself paid off when he was selected in the first round of the 2017 NBA draft at 21st overall by the Oklahoma City Thunder. Ferguson’s success was the key factor in the decision to begin the program to attract young talent that would one day be in the NBA. Signing guard R.J. Hampton and guard LaMelo Ball to the New Zealand Breakers and Illawarra Hawks respectively was exactly what the program needed.
Those signings highlighted the NBL Next Stars Program as something to watch. All eyes would be focused on a top prospect like Hampton and a polarizing personality and name like LaMelo Ball. The decision by Ball ended up showcasing him to NBA teams in a brand new light. He was struggling to make the first round in Mock Drafts and after the NBL he ended up being selected third overall by the Charlotte Hornets. Ball would hit the league by storm and would play his way into the 2021 Rookie of the Year award. Hampton was also drafted in the first round by the Milwaukee Bucks at 24th overall.
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) September 24, 2019
NBL Commissioner Jeremy Loeliger also offered his insight in an interview on how the NBL prepared LaMelo for the NBA: “That’s the whole point of our ‘Next Stars’ program as well and why guys like LaMelo transitioned so well into the Hornets lineup. He knew what to expect from game one. He hadn’t come from a season playing with kids his own age who were in awe of him. He’d been playing against mature professional basketball players who were testing him every time he got the ball.”
Ball and Hampton brought legitimacy to the NBL Next Stars Program and proved it was capable of getting young players ready for the NBA. Focus now shifts to the 2022 NBA Draft and prospect Ousmane Dieng. The French prospect decided against college and signed as a Next Star basketball player in the NBL. He is currently projected to go somewhere in the first round of most 2022 NBA Mock Drafts. His level of play will surely impact his draft stock over the course of the NBL season.
Spent the morning watching French wing Ousmane Dieng work out before he heads to New Zealand to join the Breakers of the NBL. First time seeing the projected lottery pick since the 2019 U16 Euros. Has grown to 6-10 in shoes. Super fluid and skilled for his size. Big time talent. pic.twitter.com/gbsz5g8ckb
— Mike Schmitz (@Mike_Schmitz) August 6, 2021
The evaluation for the NBL Next Stars program is fairly clear. They have proved they are a credible path to the NBA and an alternative to college basketball for at least some of the best high school prospects in the world. It gives rising basketball players a path to the NBA and a chance to make money at the professional level while improving on their game. They likely will not rival the G League Ignite or Overtime Elite in numbers, but the quality will be there.