Baltimore native and former Michigan commit Isaiah Todd says his decision to forgo college to join the G League was not about money but the opportunity to prepare for the 2021 NBA Draft at the pro level.
Todd, a 6-foot-9, 215-pound power forward, was a consensus five-star recruit and was ranked 13th nationally in the Class of 2020 by ESPN. Todd most recently played at Word of God Christian Academy in Richmond, Va., and he played his AAU ball on the Adidas circuit for Team Loaded.
Todd committed to play for Wolverines head coach Juwan Howard in October 2019 but recently decommitted after being presented with the opportunity to play in the G League, the NBA’s developmental circuit. Todd says the money is a plus, but he is mostly looking forward to improving as a player in the G League.
“I didn’t make any decisions based on money,” Todd said on Glenn Clark Radio April 23. “But obviously I just want to get better and better my game to prepare myself for the NBA so that one day I will be able to make a lot of money. I made the decision so I can better my game.”
Todd is one of three players so far to forgo college for the G League. Top prospects Jalen Green and Daishen Nix did the same. As part of a plan to help them develop, Todd, Green and Nix will be placed on a team with veterans and other draft prospects. They’ll play against other G-League teams, but the games will not count toward the standings.
Although Todd will reportedly earn up to $500,000 in the G League, his main concern is preparing for the NBA Draft. He’s eligible to be drafted in 2021.
“I just believed this route here will better prepare me for the draft and probably might even be more appealing to NBA [general managers],” Todd said. “Just being around the NBA for that one year under NBA trainers, coaches, veterans, and learning NBA terminology and bettering my body will prepare me for the next level.”
Although Todd is looking forward to the G League, he did initially have his mind set on going to college, in large part due to his relationship with Michigan’s head coach. He said Howard was like an uncle to him and “respected his decision as a young man.”
Todd was set to join fellow top recruits Hunter Dickinson (DeMatha), Zeb Jackson and Terrance Williams (Gonzaga) at Michigan in the fall. Todd would have been set to take on big role, with three of the four Wolverines’ top scorers from this past season — center Jon Teske and guards Isaiah Livers and Zavier Simpson — either graduating or testing the NBA Draft waters.
“Decommitting was the hardest thing to do,” Todd said. “I wouldn’t say I was nervous about it. But it was the hardest thing to do because I love Michigan, I love the fans, and I love Juwan Howard as a person.”
Todd added that his G League contract includes a full scholarship to Arizona State, which made his decision easier since he’ll be able to continue his education online while training, something he’s been balancing since he started playing hoops.
Todd says growing up in Baltimore helped shaped him to be the player he is today.
“I can honestly say the people that were around me when I was young kind of groomed me to be the basketball player and the man that I am,” Todd said. “That has a lot do with that grit that comes from being from Baltimore, and everybody around me installed that in me.”
“I feel like every competitive basketball player plays with a chip on their shoulder,” Todd added. “Anybody that wants to be great kind of plays with that same chip. I mean, a lot of times it doesn’t matter where you from as long as you’re just competitive. But I think [being] from Baltimore is why I have that chip.”
Todd says he can’t speak for other players regarding whether they should follow in his footsteps, but he believes there could be players who decide to do so in the next year. As for now, Todd is working out in his driveway and keeping his body in shape during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I’m working out every day in my garage and out front in my driveway with this hoop I bought from Walmart,” Todd said. “… I run the hills with my trainer and with some football players right now. Just trying to get my body right and stay in shape. The grind doesn’t stop.”
For more from Todd, listen to the full interview here:
Photo Credit: Courtesy of USA Basketball