Arizona signee Brandon Jennings has decided to make an unprecedented move to forgo playing in college and instead pursue a professional career in Europe next season before likely entering the 2009 NBA draft, Jenning's attorney, Jeff Valle, told ESPN.com on Tuesday night.
"Over the course of the last two months I have consulted a number of people in basketball before coming to this decision," Jennings said in a statement released through Valle. "I would like to thank the University of Arizona for their interest and support through this process." ...
Valle said Jennings will not even wait for his third standardized test result to see if he got a qualifying score after his second test was questioned by the NCAA. The results from the third test are due later this week.
"That's a moot point now," Valle said. "He's not going to the University of Arizona. Brandon plans on going to Europe."
Valle said a number of European teams have expressed an interest in signing Jennings for next season. Valle declined to say which teams and in which countries.
Valle said that the family will consult with Sonny Vaccaro and likely sign with an agent to help facilitate a contract with a European professional team.
Sonny Vaccaro recently talked at length about the importance of a top American recruit heading to Europe. He sees it, as does just about everyone, as the best possible way to stick it to the NCAA, and the NBA's rule banning players straight from high school.
Jennings is a mesmerizing talent who is considered an elite long-term prospect.
But will he be able to help a top European club over the next year -- when he would be a college freshman? It will be a trick for him to get a big deal in Europe, where teams face a lot of pressure to win now, play very intricate offenses, and prefer to develop point guards over several years.
UPDATE: Jonathan Givony is, in addition to the guy who runs DraftExpress, a consultant who advises several European teams on things like which American players to sign and for how much.
Givony says he can't see a top European club offering Jennings more than $100,000. "He's not strong enough and he's not experienced enough to run an elite club. He has a world of talent, and he'll be unbelievable down the road, but experience trumps athleticism and talent every day in European basketball," explains Givony. "I'd be very surprised if a top team offered him more than $100,000, at most, but stranger things have happened. Jerome Moiso just had his best year ever, and averaged seven points a game. He just signed a huge deal in Russia."
Givony points out an important way that Jennings could be valuable in Europe, however. In a year, Jennings will likely be a top NBA draft pick, and whoever drafts him will be only too happy to buy him out of a European contract for $500,000, which is the maximum allowed by the NBA.
So, in theory, a European team could sign Jennings to a longer deal with an NBA escape clause after one year. Then next summer, they could ask for half a million from an NBA team, and potentially even more from an NBA-bound Jennings himself.
In that scenario, paying Jennings more than he's worth for the first year would be easy to swallow, and Jennings could end up with a reasonably big contract.