The NBA has hired former Knick and legendary NYC basketball star Rod Strickland as program manager for its G League professional path program.
Strickland, a 17-year NBA veteran and former college assistant, will evaluate elite prospects, as well as educate and mentor them on the new initiative that offers select high school prospects the option to bypass NCAA basketball and accept a $125,000 salary for a 5-month G League season.
Former WNBA player Allison Feaster will oversee a group of prospects that are eligible for the pro path initiative and work closely with Strickland.
Every graduating high school player is already allowed to make himself eligible for the G League draft, but those non-elite prospects would still come into the minor league on a lower, traditional salary – if they made a roster.
“First and foremost, we want to make it clear that they won’t be searching out any player already committed to school,” Feaster told ESPN. “We will focus on players who are undecided. As Rod moves into the market, he’ll have interactions with organizations and potential parents. Initially, it’ll be those who reach out to us and want more information on the professional path.”
NEWS: Allison Feaster to lead #NBAGLeague Professional Path, Rod Strickland (@rod_strickland) hired as Program Manager. Read more: https://t.co/MdmUbAGPnO
Strickland’s now the NBA’s weapon on navigating in what will be a new kind of recruiting war where the NBA positions itself to get first dibs on the latest recruits before major college programs get them to commit to at least one year of school.
Rod Strickland’s grassroots with the New York AAU scene and his familiarity with high school, prep and college level hoops will provide the NBA with an eye in the sky and an inside guy when it comes to bumping off interested universities and cherrypicking future NBA talent.
According to Forbes.com, “In his newly appointed post, Strickland will spend time on the road evaluating and meeting with uncommitted high school players who satisfy the league’s desire for high character and high upside prospects to play in the G League prior to entering the NBA Draft.
With the announcement that the NBA has tabbed former journeyman Rod Strickland to head their inaugural professional path program, the league has made it clear that they are ready to be a major player in a game they have previously observed only from the sidelines.”
Life After Hoops
At his best, the 1997-98 season with the Washington Wizards, Strickland averaged 17.8 points and 10.5 assists and electrified the crowd with an array of potent playground moves. But playing in a guard-heavy era that included John Stockton, Gary Payton, Tim Hardaway, and Allen Iverson wasn’t easy, as Rod’s accomplishments were overshadowed by immortal players.
Life after basketball has been good to Strickland and allowed him to keep his competitive edge and continue to impact the game. Most recently he worked as an assistant coach at the University of South Florida. Before that, he was instrumental in the development of Washington Wizards point guard John Wall during Strickland’s years in college working under the recruiting master himself, John Calipari.
Rod Strickland, who has been with me for 7 years and entertained joining Larry Brown and the SMU coaching staff, has decided to stay at UK.
NBA’s Go-To Guy
In October, the NBA unveiled the blueprints of a new development program aimed to further legitimize the G League as their official minor league. The NBA exploited the 2017 college basketball corruption scandal by offering high school prospects an alternative to college basketball, which loosened the NCAA’s grip on elite high school athletes.
As details about the program were revealed, it became clear that the NBA will no longer be an impartial mediator but a major player in the complicated, convoluted and cunning amateur basketball landscape.
Strickland will be the man running through the fire to secure the NBA’s bag. He’s the point guard for a new kind of team with long-lasting relevance to the viability and sustainability of the league.