College basketball recruiting: No. 1 overall 2021 prospect Jonathan Kuminga spurns college for G League

The G League’s foray into providing a new and formidable alternative path for top-flight recruits to develop themselves for the NBA reached new heights on Wednesday as five-star prospect Jonathan Kuminga, the No. 1-ranked recruit in the Class of 2021, announced he will bypass college and join the G League’s professional path select program. 

The G League program is a part of the NBA’s developmental league, but consists primarily of high-profile, high school prospects who spurned college. They operate under the NBA’s umbrella but compete outside the normal structure of other G League teams. 

Kuminga’s announcement serves as a formal reclassification that makes him eligible for the 2021 NBA Draft as well as a reminder that the program, still in its infancy, remains an enticing option for blue-chip recruits in place of going overseas or attending college.

“I see potential as an NBA player,” he said on Instagram announcing his decision. “So with the G League, they’ll help me a lot more than college. They’ll teach me how to get open on the court and reach my goal to be drafted in 2021.”

Part of the allure with the program stems from its willingness to offer money comparable to other programs overseas while providing the luxury of competing in the states. According to The Athletic’s Shams Charania, Kuminga’s deal is in the $500,000 range.

Jonathan Kuminga is the fourth five-star recruit to commit to playing for the Select team next season in what has been a momentous few months as the program gets off the ground. He’s one of the most well-known players joining the team, too, with he and Jalen Green — both projected top-five picks in the 2021 NBA Draft — headlining the new movement. 

His decision leaves a number of college programs who pursued him in the dust, but Texas Tech in particular may be licking its wounds. The Red Raiders were considered the favorite if he indeed opted to go to college in part because his brother, Joel Ntambwe, is a player on Chris Beard’s roster.

This is a win for the G League program as it makes a push to develop its program and earn credibility. Kuminga and Green are near-locks to be top-10 picks next season barring injury, and the ability a year from now for the program to be able to have that as a bullet-point on the resume should help attract future recruits to follow their lead. 


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