Will Barton, Memphis Recruit, Ineligible For Upcoming Season; D-League A Possibility?

Memphis recruit Will Barton can score from anywhere on the court. He's a killer in transition, has an excellent mid-range game and his three-point shot is what some might call 'wet'.  The Baltimore native also has good court vision and the size and intangibles to harass opposing wingmen on defense. Oh, and you already know this if you watched the above video, but word is that he can finish above the rim as well - ferociously.

Unfortunately for the 6-foot-6 swingman, it seems that the top-ranked shooting guard in his class won't be eligible to play for the Tigers this upcoming season.

University of Memphis basketball players were informed before Wednesday night's practice that freshman Will Barton may not be academically eligible this season according to Dan Wolken of the Memphis Commercial Appeal.

"It dont get no worse than this," Barton posted on his Twitter account Wednesday evening. "The hardest thing I ever had 2 face is here. Need vision cuz everything blurry now. Where do I go from here?"

As Wolken notes, the talented scorer has two options if he's unable to win an appeal to the NCAA to regain his eligibility.

If he is not cleared to play this season, it is unlikely he will ever see the court for Memphis. Barton would have opportunities to play in Europe or the NBA Developmental League next season before entering the NBA draft next June.

This is where it gets interesting.

As talented as Barton is, he'll almost certainly be a first round pick in the NBA next season - regardless of which option he chooses to pursue next season.

As Barton's Twitter bio states, he's "focusing on making my dreams come true & being the best. NBA is the ultimate goal. SACRIFICE & DEDICATION. B.asketball I.s Life."

With the ultimate goal of the NBA in mind, the NBA Development League might be his best option - especially to further develop his game as Draft Express noted in their scouting report that he does have a few fixable flaws.

His ball-handling skills first and foremost need plenty of work, as he shows very little ability to operate with his left hand and struggles in general to create his own shot in the half-court and get all the way to the basket. His decision making and shot-selection were very questionable throughout the course of the weekend, particularly when his team started falling behind and they needed him to make good decisions. He did not look like a particularly efficient scorer in the games we saw, being quite turnover prone as well.

In the NBA Development League, he'd be able to get solid coaching focused on his development (see Williams, Latavious), play against NBA-level competition (note the record amount of call-ups to the NBA last season) and showcase his wares in front of NBA scouts on a night-in-night-out basis.  Really, that's everything a burgeoning NBA player that isn't eligible to play in the NBA could ever want, right?

Well, not quite.

If Barton were to forego playing domestically this season and instead spend a year abroad, a la Brandon Jennings, he'd probably be able to make roughly the same $1.2 million that Jennings did while playing in Rome as both were high-profile players ranked at the top of their position in their class.

While the extra million dollars is certainly tough to turn down for a player coming right out of high school and looking at a $26,500 salary in the D-League as his only other option, Jennings wasn't exactly happy in Europe when he talked the New York Times midway through his lone season.

"I've gotten paid on time once this year," Jennings said in an e-mail message. "They treat me like I'm a little kid. They don't see me as a man. If you get on a good team, you might not play a lot. Some nights you'll play a lot; some nights you won't play at all. That's just how it is."

While Jennings' situation turned out positive, I don't know that it necessarily would have been any different had he joined the D-League instead of playing in Rome.  If anything else, his stock probably would have been higher as it's possible some teams were worried about his attitude in Europe as well as his spotty minutes without much of an explanation.  Being a lottery pick is nothing to scoff at, obviously, but things can always be better.

As I said earlier, there probably isn't a wrong choice for where Barton goes next - and I really hope he's able to become academically eligible at Memphis if that's what he thinks is best for him.

That said, it'd be an interesting case study to watch Barton develop firsthand in the D-League as well.

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