Recruiting Sports Law

Brandon Jennings Is Done Before One?

If David Stern and the rest of the NBA Executives did not have a good enough reason to scrap the league’s one-year-out-of-high school requirement thus far, which I would heavily debate, the impetus for change is now right in front of our eyes.  If the NBA does not budge on its solid stance, then there will be some hefty consequences for American basketball.  It is all because of the intelligent business decision being made by a man named Brandon Jennings.

Brandon JenningsMuch like O.J. Mayo, Michael Beasley, and Derrick Rose, Brandon Jennings thinks the one-and-done rule is ridiculous.  Brandon was born on September 23, 1989 in Compton, CA and went to Oak Hill Academy (the same high school as Carmelo Anthony and many other basketball studs).  Jennings is officially committed to play his Freshman year at Arizona, but none of that matters if he follows through on his new alternative plan.  Instead of playing a year for free in the states, which he is not even guaranteed at this point due to eligibility issues surrounding his SAT scores, Jennings is planning on traveling to Europe to play for at least a year and get a nice salary while many of his colleagues are playing in a league where educational institutions benefit off of their skill.

Can you blame the kid?  I agree with Paola Boivin of The Arizona Republic,

If the league really wants to help, stop preventing players from earning a paycheck. Instead, it should do a better job monitoring the agents it licenses to represent players and be more aggressive in the role of helping police youth basketball.

Patrol the handlers, monitor the runners, follow the AAU coaches, and guide the agents.  If the NCAA and NBA pooled both organization’s resources together to combat the problems that are brewing under the surface instead of going after a stupid age limit, then progress may be made.  Stop feeding us this nonsense that there is a difference between an 18-year-old and a 19-year-old.  Both of them can fight in the military, both of them should be able to play professional basketball and make a living for themselves.

Someone needs to prod NBA executives to wake up and realize that they have a very strong product that is not worth jeopardizing in any way.  Also, shoot them a copy of Michael McCann’s law review article from 2004, titled, Illegal Defense: The Irrational Economics of Banning High School Players from the NBA Draft.

The NBA’s economic system…provides unambiguous incentives for premiere high school players to seek entrance into the NBA as soon as possible. In turn, since those players are often the most talented, they tend to develop at a uniquely accelerated rate, and thus their earlier arrival and longer stay ultimately benefits the NBA. At the same time, those high school players better off attending college tend to do so because of contrasting incentives generated by this same economic system. In short, high school players have proven to be the best group of players entering the NBA because the NBA’s economic system dictates that very outcome.

A win-win situation?  We definitely don’t want that.  The NBA would prefer you to go to Europe instead, Brandon.

By Darren Heitner

Darren Heitner created Sports Agent Blog as a New Year's Resolution on December 31, 2005. Originally titled, "I Want To Be A Sports Agent," the website was founded with the intention of causing Heitner to learn more about the profession that he wanted to join, meet reputable individuals in the space and force himself to stay on top of the latest news and trends.

Heitner now runs Heitner Legal, P.L.L.C., which is a law firm with many practice areas, including sports law and contract law. Heitner has represented numerous athletes and sports agents as legal counsel. He has also served as an Adjunct Professor at Indiana University Bloomington from 2011-2014, where he created and taught a course titled, Sport Agency Management, which included subjects ranging from NCAA regulations to athlete agent certification and the rules governing the profession. Heitner serves as an Adjunct Professor at the University of Florida Levin College of Law, where he teaches a Sports Law class that includes case law surrounding athlete agents and the NCAA rules.

6 replies on “Brandon Jennings Is Done Before One?”

The NBA/NCAA is trying to address the real problems in youth basketball…they made “historic” announcement in early April….
“A groundbreaking five-year, $50 million deal between the NBA and NCAA not only includes ambitious goals for overhauling youth basketball, but also marks a new level in the relationship between two powerful organizations that, until a couple of years ago, had never sat down together.

The as-yet-unnamed joint venture between the NBA and NCAA, which was to be formally announced today at the Final Four in San Antonio, will develop programs to help assure that boys and girls get consistent, high-quality basketball training and education. The first visible sign of the new business will likely be a Web site launched for the 2008-09 season that will provide information and social networking for young players, teams, leagues and event organizers. Before that happens, though, the NCAA and the NBA will have to hire a chief executive and a staff, and figure out where to establish a headquarters. That may be influenced, NCAA President Myles Brand said, by which technology company they partner with on their Web presence.

Terms of the deal call for each side to commit up to $15 million in cash and another $20 million in joint marketing investment.

“This is a historic deal,” said Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski, who will coach the U.S. men’s Olympic team in Beijing this summer and who has been a longtime proponent of revamping youth basketball. “It’s going to make basketball in our country better. That’s the motivation. To help kids, but to make the game better.”

While most of the details have yet to be worked out, the joint venture will go far beyond just a Web presence. There are plans for an annual youth basketball congress, for coaching education and certification, for registering and training officials and for working with existing sanctioning organizations to establish national standards for competitive events.”

I agree this is an excellent post. Jennings idea to play overseas for one year before declaring for the NBA draft looks like a great idea on the surface. I believe this is an idea that Sonny Vaccaro has been trying to implement for years. Its a smart way to make decent money for one year instead of getting nothing, and if he is having SAT problems this idea is even better. But, there are a lot of possible pitfalls in playing overseas. The teenager has to assimilate to his team’s country and join a team comprised of grown men, some will be close to double his age. Teams don’t always pay on time. Players get homesick. Teams in europe have different styles of play and are not as ‘star’ oriented as NBA teams are. They actually play defense overseas. In college, guys like Mayo and Beasley were essentially given a stage to run a one man show, where they could showcase all of their talents in offenses that were built for them. They auditioned in front of NBA GM’s and all other Hoops VIP’s night after night. It won’t nearly be like that playing in europe. Teams will keep tabs on Jennings if he is overseas, but it wont be close to what it would be at Arizona. He will also not get any sportscenter airtime which is OH SO valuable in getting ones name out there today. Even if he dominates over there, GM’s will question the competition he played against, since most of those players will never be in the NBA. If you consider those points, it is clear to see that there is more to lose in terms of draft position in going overseas than playing at Arizona.

So what this all comes down to is $$$. The one year of not getting paid vs. one year of getting paid say $250,000- $1 MIL ( not sure what he would get). Some may disagree, but I think he is better off biting the bullet and going to school for one year and leaving the money on the table. The last two years has proven that having a solid 1 year at college can get you locked into the first round and lottery. The exposure will help make the player a household name. The difference in getting drafted 5 and 15 is close enough to what a guy would make in that one year. And don’t forget about the marketing benefits. What if Jeryd Bayless played in spain last year? He would just be another name w/o a face like danillo galinarri or alexis ajinca, he would be first round lock but def not lottery. To be straight, I am not very convinced that bayless should be drafted in the lottery, but because he played at zona and has a great agent who knows how to navigate the waters, he has a tremendous amount of hype behind him.

If he can’t get his test scores(why they don’t take the ACT in regards to qualifying always mystified me), then what choice does he have? Find the one JC that has a coach who can coach him up? Another year at a prep school? A year in the D-league?

It’s a gutsy move to go overseas and if he can tough it out he’ll be a better person for it in both personally. Professionally? That’s a much harder call. Most teams who sign an American are looking for scoring and he shouldn’t expect a lot of individual training. He’s already shown by transferring to Oak Hill he’s willing to step out of his element(though by transferring and backing out on USC he may have issues with certain folks in LA.)

I too agree that this is great post. The line of thought in terms of thinking outside of the box in order for an athlete to earn money while he plies his trade without being exploited is ingenious. However, as other posters have pointed out there are significant risks associated with a move of this magnitude. For one, if he sustains a serious injury, how does the insurance work in Europe? Will the athlete be privy to the same medical advisement that college players in a major program receive? From another standpoint, if he is ineffective, he may be trapped in Europe and his full earning and athletic potential may not be realized due to differing marketing structures (in the US, it is all about the individual, not the team), and having to play in offenses that do not feature one player over the whole.

On the upside, this could set up a major windfall for him; if successful and everything plays out in favor, he could avoid the draft and will no longer have to be salary slotted. If this goes through and he is successful, a team WILL draft him in the late first or second round of the NBA and a team can trade his rights for players and salary cap relief. Josh Childress is doing a similar thing by playing in Europe; if he develops into a major player there, he could maximize his overall value and reap major financial investment from an NBA organization. We just have to watch how it all plays out. David Stern will find a way to make this work in the NBA’s favor somehow or another.

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