NBA Prospect Darius Bazley Declines to Play for G League to Prep for 2019 Draft

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistAugust 27, 2018

ATLANTA, GA - MARCH 28:  Nassir Little #10 of Orlando Christian Prep is congratulated by teammates Keldon Johnson #23 of Oak Hill Academy and Darius Bazley #15 of Princeton High School after he won the MVP trophy in the 2018 McDonald's All American Game at Philips Arena on March 28, 2018 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Darius Bazley, who decommitted from Syracuse with plans to play one year in the G League before the NBA, will instead train on his own in preparation for the 2019 draft. 

“Talking about it over with my group, we felt confidently that the G League wasn’t going to be needed and now I can use this time to work on my craft,” Bazley told The Athletic's Shams Charania. “It’s mainly me talking to [agent] Rich [Paul], he knows so much, and whenever he speaks my ears perk up. When Miles [Bridges] was in Cleveland for his predraft workouts, whenever he got a chance to work out in front of NBA teams, I was working out in the gym, too. So that played a part in it, me playing well in those workouts for us to say there’s no upside in the G League. If you play well, it’s expected. If you don’t play well, you’re not NBA-ready. That’s what they’ll say. For me, working out and preparing is the best route."

Bazley was the nation's No. 17 prospect and fourth-ranked small forward in the 2018 high school class, per 247Sports. He was viewed as a potential first-round pick but far from a lock to be a one-and-done lottery pick.

Now, Bazley will follow a path similar to Anfernee Simons, who was taken No. 24 overall in June's draft. Simons decommitted from Louisville last year and instead spent a year training at the IMG Academy in Florida. 

Bazley said the structure of the G League draft helped push him away from the league. Easily the favorite to go No. 1 overall, Bazley would have likely landed with the Utah Jazz's G League affiliate. Other organizations place a greater emphasis on player development at the G League level. 

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“This shows the impact of the rules now that have taken away the flexibility for a five-star prospect to enter the league,” an NBA executive told Charania. “Each team in the G League is not the same in terms of resources and development.”

Bazley said he plans to spend the next 10 months focusing on basketball "24/7." The Ohio native is represented by Rich Paul, LeBron James' agent, and has been working out with NBA players in Los Angeles this summer. 

“I feel I’m very prepared,” Bazley said. “I’m still learning, too. To say I got it all down pat right now isn’t the case, and there’s going to be ups and downs. It isn’t going to be a cupcake road and you just skip down…there’s going to be adversity.

"I knew that I would have to be level-headed and mentally tough to get through it. It’s like an academy because I’m learning something new every day. Everyone around me is greatness. People I play against, people I hear from. Everybody at my agency looks out, and they all want each other to be successful. I talk to KCP [Kentavious Caldwell-Pope]; he gives me advice."

Jonathan Givony of ESPN projected Bazley as the No. 18 pick in the 2019 draft in June.