Nov 5, 2019

Top high school basketball players choose to play in Australia over college

LaMelo Ball (L) and RJ Hampton (R). Photo: Kelly Defina/Getty Images

While the majority of America's top high school talent chose to spend the year in college where they will earn $0 in wages, LaMelo Ball and R.J. Hampton chose to spend the year in Australia's National Basketball League where they will earn $68,400 each in wages.

What they're saying: Ball was unlikely to be NCAA eligible anyway after playing professionally in Lithuania, but Hampton had full eligibility — he simply chose the path he thought would best prepare him for the NBA.

"My dream has never been to play college basketball. My dream has always been to get to the next level and play in the NBA, so ... I think this was the best route for me to live like a pro and play with grown men every day and not have to juggle books and basketball and just focus on my main goal."
R.J. Hampton

The big picture: Hampton's decision embodies the modern challenge facing college basketball, but fears over this becoming the new normal are exaggerated. After all, as I mentioned up top, the "one-and-done" era will likely end soon. And when it does, these alternative paths will be moot.

The bottom line: We've seen international prospects make noise before, but we've never seen two young Americans — both active on social media with massive followings — playing overseas while their former classmates play on campuses. Should be an fun storyline to follow.

Go deeper: A look at this season's college basketball storylines

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Men's college basketball debuts its new 3-point line

Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

In June, the NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel voted to move the men's 3-point line from 20 feet, 9 inches to the international distance of 22 feet, 1.75 inches starting this season.

Why it matters: According to the committee, moving the line back will open up the lane for drives/cuts to the basket and additional low-post play, while keeping the 3-point revolution in check by making threes more challenging.

Go deeperArrowNov 5, 2019

NBA ratings are down, but fans are still engaged

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Entering December, one of the most alarming NBA storylines is the league's declining TV ratings.

By the numbers: Through Nov. 22, games were averaging 1.45 million viewers across ESPN and TNT, down 18% from the same point last year (1.75 million).

Go deeperArrowDec 2, 2019

A look at this season's college basketball storylines

College basketball's ultimate focus on March Madness provides a calming escape from the life-and-death nature of college football — so it's a good thing that beginning Tuesday we have both to choose from.

The big picture: With Michigan State heading up the men's poll and Oregon on top of the women's, there are a slew of storylines to follow as the season kicks off.

Go deeperArrowNov 5, 2019