A little-known rule is reportedly keeping some of basketball's most touted youngsters from trying to hit it big in the G League.
Several 2018 first-round prospects asked about potentially playing in the NBA's minor-league system this season, but were informed they're not eligible because they were enrolled in college at some point during the academic year, a league source told ESPN's Jonathan Givony. That group apparently includes five-star center Mitchell Robinson, who was enrolled at Western Kentucky but never took the court for the Hilltoppers because he withdrew from the school prior to the start of the season.
Though he remains without a school, the timing of Robinson's enrollment disqualifies him from appearing in the G League this season. The rule is apparently aimed at preventing frustrated college players from hastily trying to improve their draft stock in the developmental league.
"We're not looking to compete with college basketball for their players," a G League source told Givony. "The NBA, specifically NBA lawyers, are concerned about the optics of NCAA players being disgruntled with minutes or coaching decisions and leaving college with the hopes of joining the G League. This is a blanket rule unfortunately that applies to all players.
"Like all of our rules, we are open to revisiting them if needed, but at the moment any player that was enrolled in a college this season is ineligible to play in our league."
Though unable to join the G League, a player in Robinson's predicament can still risk declaring for the NBA draft despite not having played competitively recently. He can also consider turning pro by signing overseas, though doing so would also forfeit his remaining eligibility in the NCAA.
Players who were enrolled during a season can sign in the G League if the NCAA rules them permanently ineligible with no opportunity for reinstatement.