The NBA G League snatched Mick Cronin’s first high-profile recruit, signing point guard Daishen Nix for a reported $300,000 only months after he had signed a letter of intent to join Cronin as part of his rebuilding efforts at UCLA.
This week, with his team in the midst of a stirring NCAA tournament run, Cronin struck back.
First, the Bruins coach dismissed the notion of a partnership between college basketball and the NBA.
“All I would say is, let’s not act like we’re all on the same team,” Cronin said Thursday as his 11th-seeded Bruins prepared to face second-seeded Alabama on Sunday at Hinkle Fieldhouse.
Cronin also touted the benefits of spending at least a year in college as opposed to pocketing some quick money before heading into the NBA draft.
“College basketball has been a free farm system for 40 years for the NBA,” Cronin said, “and it is and will always be the best place for a young player to develop.”
To bolster his point, Cronin mentioned the value of assimilating with college teammates and being developed while experiencing a college campus.
“The experience is second to none and I believe it’s the best basketball development that somebody’s going to get,” Cronin said. “That’s just my belief; it doesn’t mean that I’m right. Everybody’s entitled to their opinion, but like I said, I’m well aware that in midtown Manhattan [in the NBA office] they’re not real concerned with my opinion and that’s OK. … I don’t think Adam Silver is concerned; he works for 30 owners and they’re all capitalists, as they should be.”
Nix has not wowed with G League Ignite, averaging 8.8 points, 5.3 assists and 5.3 rebounds while making 38.4% of his shots. He has made only 17.6% of his three-pointers.
Cronin made it clear that he harbored no bitterness toward Nix.
“Look, this is America, man, it’s capitalism,” Cronin said, “so I’ve got nothing but love for Daishen, I wish him nothing but the best, but as far as the NBA, they’re worried about the NBA.”