College basketball likely would "benefit from one year" of top high school prospect R.J. Hampton, but his decision to play overseas in Australia's National Basketball League is "not a death blow for the NCAA," according to Jeff Borzello of ESPN.com. Every few years a "high-level prospect decides to skip college and go the overseas route for a year." When that happens, the "question is asked whether this is going to start a trend of players skipping their one season of college and what that means for college basketball." But then "no one else does it." College basketball "will be fine" (ESPN.com, 5/28). USA TODAY's Dan Wolken writes the belief that Hampton is about to "inspire an exodus of elite basketball prospects from using the collegiate system as a springboard to the NBA is just as wrong now as it was when people said it years ago with Brandon Jennings, Emmanuel Mudiay and Darius Bazley." There is a "difference with Hampton in that he's going to the Australian league purely as a choice, whereas others had eligibility or academic concerns that basically took the college option away from them." But the "bottom line" is that for all its "flaws and inequities, the NCAA has constructed the best developmental path for most players" (USA TODAY, 5/29). ESPN's Scott Van Pelt said, "No floodgates are opening." He added, "The idea that there is suddenly going to be an increase in players who decide to pass on a year of college, leave home and go halfway around the world to do this, in my opinion, is silly. ... I simply don't believe it reflects anything more than a rare young man making a very mature decision" ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 5/28).
STILL SOME CONCERN: ESPN's Mike Schmitz said going overseas for high schoolers not yet eligible for the NBA Draft is a "really attractive option" instead of going to college. Hampton can earn upwards of $500,000 with his deal with the NBL, and "then you add in the ability to now go after a shoe deal." Schmitz: "This is not the last name who could potentially come into the fold here" ("OTL," ESPN, 5/28). ESPN's David Jacoby said Hampton's move "might change the game forever" ("Jalen & Jacoby," ESPN Radio, 5/28). SI.com's Dan Greene wrote in the wake of Hampton's decision, there is "talk of trend-setting regarding the doors Hampton ... might open for alternative career paths." As the "most talented teenage basketball players face increased options of where to play after high school," college basketball's status as a "talent incubator is only going to continue taking a hit." Greene: "And with that, its national relevance will too" (SI.com, 5/28).
WHO NEEDS COLLEGE? ESPN's Dan Le Batard wondered if part of Hampton's decision to go to the NBL is because he does not want to "fall under the injustice of the NCAA system." Le Batard: "He's already going to get sneaker money that he wouldn't be able to get if he was playing in college. In college, the teams get the sneaker money, the coaches get the sneaker money. Here's a player saying, 'I want my sneaker money'" ("Highly Questionable," ESPN, 5/28). The Washington Post's Kevin Blackistone: "He's going to make money off of his own value rather than allow someone else to make that money off of his value" ("Around The Horn," ESPN, 5/28).
The AAC reported $77.79M in total revenue in '17-18, a "slight increase" -- 4% -- from '16-17 during which the conference reported $74.47M, according to Matt Murschel of the ORLANDO SENTINEL. The AAC earned $44.99M in "postseason tournaments, including revenue generated from the shares in the NCAA men’s and women’s basketball tournaments, bowl game payouts as well as the league’s share from the College Football Playoff." The conference also reported $21.464M in "revenue from its television and radio rights through its deals with ESPN and CBS Sports." AAC Commissioner Mike Aresco made $1.883M in salary, "up slightly" from the previous year of $1.79M (ORLANDO SENTINEL, 5/29).
Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry said that the city is in talks with the Univ. of Georgia and the Univ. of Florida to keep their annual football game at TIAA Bank Field "beyond the current deal" that expires after '21, according to Garry Smits of the FLORIDA TIMES-UNION. UGA coach Kirby Smart yesterday during the SEC's spring meeting said that "'nothing is off the table' in regards to keeping the game at TIAA Bank Field or moving it to another neutral site or rotating it as a home-and-home series." Smart has pointed out in the past that a neutral-site game "takes away one recruiting weekend." Smart: "Our version of the LSU-Alabama game is held in Jacksonville and we don’t have prospects. So it’s not conducive to recruiting, absolutely it’s not. It’s just the way it’s been done here before." Smits notes Jacksonville has hosted the annual game the last 86 years outside of '94-95, when it moved to campus while TIAA Bank Stadium was being renovated. Both UGA and UF are paid $250,000 per year, and they "split the gate" (FLORIDA TIMES-UNION, 5/29). In Orlando, Edgar Thompson notes UF coach Dan Mullen understands Smart's "point of view from a recruiting standpoint." However, Mullen said that the tradition of the Florida-Georgia game is "so unique and so ingrained" in both the history of each program and the city of Jacksonville. Mullen: "It makes it a lot of fun to play in Jacksonville. You do lose an opportunity, you have one less home game every other year. But it is such a great event to have a game and it is such a unique game in all of college football" (ORLANDO SENTINEL, 5/29).
SHOULD I STAY OR SHOULD I GO: In Tampa, Matt Baker writes questions around the location of the game "usually finds itself up for discussion around the time officials begin discussing a new contract." However, the circumstances "surrounding scheduling and the sport are different this time." It may not be "different enough to move the series away from Jacksonville," but different enough to "warrant serious conversations in Gainesville and Athens." Attendance is down across college football, and UF's average home crowd last year of 82,328 was its smallest since '90. Holding the game in Jacksonville "deprives the Gators of a marquee home contest this season" (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 5/29). THE ATHLETIC's Seth Emerson writes Florida-Georgia has been "held in Jacksonville for so long because both schools have wanted it that way, from presidents to athletic directors to fans and, sometimes, to coaches." Even if Smart "wants to explore moving the game -- and it’s not clear he does -- then his bosses will need to be convinced" (THEATHLETIC.com, 5/28).