NBA high school draftees

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The NBA high school draftees are players who have been drafted to the National Basketball Association (NBA) straight out of high school without playing basketball at the collegiate level. The process of jumping directly from high school to the professional level is also known as going prep-to-pro. Since 2006, the practice of drafting high school players has been prohibited by the new collective bargaining agreement, which requires that players who entered the draft be 19 years of age and at least one year removed from high school.[1] Contrary to popular belief, the player does not have to play at least a year in college basketball, as the player can choose to instead play in another professional league (especially overseas) or simply take the year off.

The NBA has long had a preference for players who played basketball at the collegiate level;[2] the vast majority of players to play in the NBA have had college experience. However, there have been numerous notable players who attended high school in the United States and then jumped directly to the NBA without playing college basketball.

History[edit]

Early years[edit]

In the early years of the NBA Draft, a player had to finish his four-year college eligibility to be eligible for selection. Reggie Harding, who had graduated from high school but did not enroll in a college, became the first player drafted out of high school when the Detroit Pistons selected him in the fourth round of the 1962 Draft.[3] However, the NBA rules at that time prohibited a high school player to play in the league until one year after his high school class graduated.[4][5] Thus, he spent a year playing in a minor basketball league before he was drafted again in the 1963 Draft by the Pistons.[6] He finally entered the league in the 1963–64 season and played four seasons in the NBA and American Basketball Association (ABA).[7]

In 1971, the U.S. Supreme Court decision Haywood v. National Basketball Association ruled, 7–2 against the National Basketball Association's requirement that a player must wait four years after high school graduation (which in most cases was spent playing in college) before turning professional. This ruling allowed players to enter the NBA Draft without four years of college, provided they could give evidence of hardship to the NBA office.[8]

In 1974, the NBA's rival, the ABA, drafted high school star Moses Malone. He was immediately signed by the Utah Stars and became the first player to go directly from high school basketball to a professional league.[9] He became an instant success, averaging 18 points and 14 rebounds per game in his rookie season. He played in the ABA until the ABA–NBA merger in 1976. He then played 19 successful seasons with 7 NBA teams. He won the NBA championship, along with the Finals Most Valuable Player Award, with the Philadelphia 76ers in 1983. His other achievements include 3 Most Valuable Player Awards, 12 consecutive All-Star Game selections, 8 All-NBA Team selections and 6 rebounding titles. He has been inducted to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame and was also named in the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History list announced at the league's 50th anniversary in 1996.[10]

A year later, two high school players, Darryl Dawkins and Bill Willoughby, applied for hardship and were declared eligible to be selected in the 1975 Draft.[11] They had applied and gave evidence of financial hardship to the league, which granted them the right to start earning their living by starting their professional careers earlier.[8] Dawkins was selected 5th by the Philadelphia 76ers while Willoughby was selected 19th by the Atlanta Hawks. Dawkins played 14 seasons and averaged 12 points and 6 rebounds per game. Willoughby played 8 seasons with 6 different teams and only averaged 6 points per game. Both players had not reached the level of success that was expected. It is argued that they could have been better players if they had college basketball experience before entering the NBA.[12][13][14]

After Dawkins and Willoughby, no high schoolers were drafted for twenty years, though several players entered the league without playing college basketball. One notable player, Shawn Kemp, enrolled in college but never played any games due to personal problems. In 1989, a year after his high school graduation, he was drafted by the Seattle SuperSonics.[15] He played 14 seasons in the NBA and was selected to 6 All-Star Games and 3 All-NBA Teams.[16]

1995–2005[edit]

A man, wearing a green jersey with a word "BOSTON" and the number "5" written in the front, is standing in front of the crowd.
Kevin Garnett's high-profile migration from high school to the NBA in 1995 prompted many high schoolers to follow in his footsteps

In 1995, Kevin Garnett, USA Today's high school basketball player of the year, announced his intentions to forgo college, and declared himself eligible for the 1995 NBA Draft. The move was highly controversial; the conventional wisdom at the time was that high-schoolers were neither emotionally nor physically mature enough for the rigors of the NBA game. On draft day, Garnett was selected with the #5 pick in the first round by the Minnesota Timberwolves. Garnett led the Timberwolves to eight consecutive playoff berths and was a multiple All-Star during his time with the team. In 2004, the Wolves advanced to the Western Conference Finals before losing to the Lakers; Garnett was named Most Valuable Player that year. After a trade in the 2007 offseason to the Boston Celtics, he was a core player in the Celtics' first NBA title in over 20 years.

In 1996, two notable players made the jump from high school to the NBA. The first was Kobe Bryant, selected by the Charlotte Hornets with the 13th pick of the NBA draft, but traded almost immediately to the Los Angeles Lakers. The second was Jermaine O'Neal, selected by the Trail Blazers with the 17th pick. O'Neal was traded in 2000 to the Indiana Pacers (and later to the Miami Heat). In 1997, another All-Star caliber player, Tracy McGrady, was selected by the Toronto Raptors. In 1998, three high-schoolers were drafted with Al Harrington and Rashard Lewis experiencing the most success. Darius Miles became the highest high school player selected with the third pick in the 2000, until the following year.

In 2001, Kwame Brown (selected by the Washington Wizards) became the first high-schooler to be selected with the number one pick in the draft; since then, LeBron James (2003) and Dwight Howard (2004) have also been selected with the first pick. Other notable high-schoolers include Tyson Chandler and Eddy Curry (2001); Amar'e Stoudemire (2002); Josh Smith, Sebastian Telfair, J. R. Smith, and Shaun Livingston (2004); Andrew Bynum and Monta Ellis (2005).

Many prep-to-pro players went on to become star players in the NBA. Kevin Garnett, Kobe Bryant and LeBron James have all won the league's MVP Award; as well as holding at least one NBA title under their belt, and are widely regarded as future Hall-of-Famers. Dwight Howard, Tracy McGrady, Jermaine O'Neal and Amar'e Stoudemire also became perennial All-Stars in their prime. However, not all high-schoolers were successful. Kwame Brown and Eddy Curry are widely regarded as draft busts, while Jonathan Bender and Darius Miles had their careers cut short by injury. Korleone Young (drafted in 1998) and Leon Smith (drafted in 1999) only played a handful of games in the NBA, while Lenny Cooke and DeAngelo Collins, both of whom declared for the 2002 Draft, went undrafted and never played in the NBA.

2005–present[edit]

A man, wearing a green jersey with a word "BUCKS" and the number "3" written in the front, is dribbling a basketball.
Brandon Jennings spent a year playing in Italy before entering the NBA

Beginning 2005, both the NBA and the players' union started to discuss the possibility of implementing a new age limit. The league lobbied for an age minimum of 20 while the union was in favor of not having any age limit.[17] Finally in July 2005, both sides compromised in the new collective bargaining agreement, requiring that the minimum age for entry into the NBA be 19 and that entrants be at least one year removed from high school.[18] For the first time, teams are also allowed to send players, with two years of NBA experience or less, to the NBA Development League (NBA D-League).[17]

The terms of the new agreement ended the practice of drafting high school players, starting in the 2006 Draft. A high school player must wait at least a year to be eligible for selection. However, they are not required to spend that year in college. In 2008, high school star Brandon Jennings decided to skip college and play professional basketball in Italy. After a year, he was eligible for the 2009 Draft and was selected 10th by the Milwaukee Bucks.[19] In the 2010 Draft, Latavious Williams, who did not qualify academically to go to college, spent a year playing in the NBA D-League before he was drafted in the second round.[20]

Some players support the new age limit. Gerald Green called it "a smart move", saying that "[not everybody is] LeBron James ... He came in ready and he dominated the league. There's a lot of players that have to get developed. Me, I've got to get developed. But I guess that age limit, that one year of college experience, can get you more developed and I think that's pretty good."[17] Others, however, strongly criticize the rule. Andrew Bynum said "That's something I'll never understand. Because in no other business can the owner, or a stock trader or a C.E.O. of a company try to protect themselves by putting rules like that."[21] Florida head coach Billy Donovan believed that the rule made high schoolers feel like they were being punished.[22]

List[edit]

There have been 42 high school draftees in the NBA Draft. Three draftees were selected first overall; Kwame Brown in 2001 NBA Draft, LeBron James in 2003 and Dwight Howard in 2004 NBA Draft. Two draftees went on to win the Rookie of the Year Award in their first season; LeBron James and 2002 draftee Amar'e Stoudemire.[23] Three draftees went on to win the Most Valuable Player Award; Kevin Garnett in 2004, Kobe Bryant in 2008 and LeBron James in 2009, 2010, 2012, and 2013.[24] Eight draftees have been selected to the All-Star Game while seven draftees have been selected to the All-NBA Team.

Pos. G F C
Position Guard Forward Center
^ Denotes player who has been inducted to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame
* Denotes player who has been selected for at least one All-Star Game and All-NBA Team
+ Denotes player who has been selected for at least one All-Star Game
# Denotes player who never played in the NBA regular season and playoffs
A man, wearing a purple jersey with a word "LAKERS" and the number "24" written in the front, is standing in front of the crowd.
Kobe Bryant was selected by the Charlotte Hornets in 1996.
A man, wearing a red jersey with a word "MIAMI" and the number "7" written in the front, is walking on a basketball court.
A man, wearing a white jersey with a word "ROCKETS" and the number "1" written in the front, is walking on a basketball court.
Tracy McGrady was selected by the Toronto Raptors in 1997.
A man, wearing a purple jersey with a word "PHOENIX" written in the front, is holding a basketball.
Amar'e Stoudemire was selected by the Phoenix Suns in 2002.
A man, wearing a black jersey with a word "CLEVELAND" and the number "23" written in the front, is holding a basketball.
LeBron James was selected by the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2003.
A man, wearing a blue jersey with a word "ORLANDO" and the number "12" written in the front, is standing in front of the crowd.
Dwight Howard was selected by the Orlando Magic in 2004.
Draft[a] Round Pick Player Pos. Nationality Draft team High school (city) Ref.
1962 4 29 Harding, ReggieReggie Harding C  United States Detroit Pistons Detroit Eastern High School (Detroit, Michigan)1[›] [25]
1975 1 5 Dawkins, DarrylDarryl Dawkins C  United States Philadelphia 76ers Maynard Evans High School (Orlando, Florida) [26]
1975 2 19 Willoughby, BillBill Willoughby F/C  United States Atlanta Hawks Dwight Morrow High School (Englewood, New Jersey) [27]
1995 1 5 Garnett, KevinKevin Garnett* F  United States Minnesota Timberwolves Farragut Career Academy (Chicago, Illinois) [28]
1996 1 13 Bryant, KobeKobe Bryant* G  United States Charlotte Hornets Lower Merion High School (Ardmore, Pennsylvania) [29]
1996 1 17 O'Neal, JermaineJermaine O'Neal* F/C  United States Portland Trail Blazers Eau Claire High School (Columbia, South Carolina) [30]
1997 1 9 McGrady, TracyTracy McGrady* F  United States Toronto Raptors Mount Zion Christian Academy (Durham, North Carolina) [31]
1998 1 25 Harrington, AlAl Harrington F  United States Indiana Pacers St. Patrick High School (Elizabeth, New Jersey) [32]
1998 2 32 Lewis, RashardRashard Lewis+ F  United States Seattle SuperSonics Alief Elsik High School (Houston, Texas) [33]
1998 2 40 Young, KorleoneKorleone Young F  United States Detroit Pistons Hargrave Military Academy (Chatham, Virginia) [34]
1999 1 5 Bender, JonathanJonathan Bender F  United States Toronto Raptors Picayune Memorial High School (Picayune, Mississippi) [35]
1999 1 25 Smith, LeonLeon Smith C  United States Dallas Mavericks Martin Luther King High School (Chicago, Illinois) [36]
2000 1 3 Miles, DariusDarius Miles F  United States Los Angeles Clippers East St. Louis High School (East St. Louis, Illinois) [37]
2000 1 23 Stevenson, DeShawnDeShawn Stevenson G  United States Utah Jazz Washington Union High School (Fresno, California) [38]
2001 1 1 Brown, KwameKwame Brown F  United States Washington Wizards Glynn Academy (Brunswick, Georgia) [39]
2001 1 2 Chandler, TysonTyson Chandler* C  United States Los Angeles Clippers Dominguez High School (Compton, California) [40]
2001 1 4 Curry, EddyEddy Curry C  United States Chicago Bulls Thornwood High School (South Holland, Illinois) [41]
2001 1 8 Diop, DeSaganaDeSagana Diop C  Senegal Cleveland Cavaliers Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Virginia) [42]
2001 2 46 Cisse, OusmaneOusmane Cisse# F  Mali Denver Nuggets St. Jude High School (Montgomery, Alabama) [43]
2002 1 9 Stoudemire, Amar'eAmar'e Stoudemire* F/C  United States Phoenix Suns Cypress Creek High School (Orlando, Florida) [44]
2003 1 1 James, LeBronLeBron James* F  United States Cleveland Cavaliers St. Vincent – St. Mary High School (Akron, Ohio) [45]
2003 1 23 Outlaw, TravisTravis Outlaw F  United States Portland Trail Blazers Starkville High School (Starkville, Mississippi) [46]
2003 1 26 Ebi, NdudiNdudi Ebi F  United Kingdom
 Nigeria
Minnesota Timberwolves Westbury Christian School (Houston, Texas) [47]
2003 1 27 Perkins, KendrickKendrick Perkins C  United States Memphis Grizzlies Clifton J. Ozen High School (Beaumont, Texas) [48]
2003 2 48 Lang, JamesJames Lang C  United States New Orleans Hornets Central Park Christian High School (Birmingham, Alabama) [49]
2004 1 1 Howard, DwightDwight Howard* F/C  United States Orlando Magic Southwest Atlanta Christian Academy (Atlanta, Georgia) [50]
2004 1 4 Livingston, ShaunShaun Livingston G  United States Los Angeles Clippers Peoria High School (Peoria, Illinois) [51]
2004 1 12 Swift, RobertRobert Swift C  United States Seattle SuperSonics Bakersfield High School (Bakersfield, California) [52]
2004 1 13 Telfair, SebastianSebastian Telfair G  United States Portland Trail Blazers Abraham Lincoln High School (Brooklyn, New York) [53]
2004 1 15 Jefferson, AlAl Jefferson F  United States Boston Celtics Prentiss High School (Prentiss, Mississippi) [54]
2004 1 17 Smith, JoshJosh Smith F  United States Atlanta Hawks Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Virginia) [55]
2004 1 18 Smith, J. R.J. R. Smith G  United States New Orleans Hornets Saint Benedict's Preparatory School (Newark, New Jersey) [56]
2004 1 19 Wright, DorellDorell Wright G/F  United States Miami Heat South Kent Preparatory School (South Kent, Connecticut) [57][58]
2005 1 6 Webster, MartellMartell Webster G/F  United States Portland Trail Blazers Seattle Preparatory School (Seattle, Washington) [59]
2005 1 10 Bynum, AndrewAndrew Bynum+ C  United States Los Angeles Lakers St. Joseph High School (Metuchen, New Jersey) [60]
2005 1 18 Green, GeraldGerald Green F  United States Boston Celtics Gulf Shores Academy (Houston, Texas) [61]
2005 2 34 Miles, C. J.C. J. Miles G  United States Utah Jazz Skyline High School (Dallas, Texas) [62]
2005 2 35 Sánchez, RickyRicky Sánchez# F  Puerto Rico Portland Trail Blazers IMG Academy (Bradenton, Florida) [63]
2005 2 40 Ellis, MontaMonta Ellis G  United States Golden State Warriors Lanier High School (Jackson, Mississippi) [64]
2005 2 45 Williams, LouisLouis Williams G  United States Philadelphia 76ers South Gwinnett High School (Snellville, Georgia) [65]
2005 2 49 Blatche, AndrayAndray Blatche F  United States Washington Wizards South Kent Preparatory School (South Kent, Connecticut) [66]
2005 2 56 Johnson, AmirAmir Johnson F  United States Detroit Pistons Westchester High School (Los Angeles, California) [67]

^ 1: Reggie Harding played and graduated from Detroit Eastern High School in January but he played high school basketball in Nashville, Tennessee prior to the draft.[68][69]

Other players[edit]

The following players also played in the NBA or were drafted without playing college basketball, however these players did not get drafted or join the NBA directly after their high school graduation.

Year[b] Debut[c] Player Pos. Nationality High school (city) Notes Ref.
[d] 1946 Kappen, TonyTony Kappen G  United States [d]
  • Played in the ABL before making his BAA debut
  • The first player to play in the BAA/NBA without any college experience
  • Made his BAA debut at the age of 27
[70][71][72]
[d] 1946 Simmons, ConnieConnie Simmons F/C  United States Flushing High School (Flushing, New York)2[›]
  • The second player to play in the BAA/NBA without any college experience
  • Made his BAA debut at the age of 21
[73][74]
[d] 1948 Graboski, JoeJoe Graboski F/C  United States Tuley High School (Chicago, Illinois)
  • Made his BAA debut at the age of 18
[75][76]
1960 1969 Hawkins, ConnieConnie Hawkins^ F/C  United States Boys High School (Brooklyn, New York) [77][78][79]
1974 1976 Malone, MosesMoses Malone^ F/C  United States Petersburg High School (Petersburg, Virginia) [80]
1988 1989 Kemp, ShawnShawn Kemp* F/C  United States Concord High School (Elkhart, Indiana) [81][82]
1986 1992 Daniels, LloydLloyd Daniels G  United States Andrew Jackson High School (Queens, New York) [83][84][85]
1993 1996 Hamilton, ThomasThomas Hamilton C  United States Martin Luther King High School (Chicago, Illinois) [86][87]
1996 2000 Jackson, StephenStephen Jackson F  United States Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Virginia) [88][89]
2004 2005 Butler, JackieJackie Butler F/C  United States Coastal Christian Academy (Virginia Beach, Virginia)
  • Declared for the 2004 NBA Draft but went undrafted
  • Played in the CBA before making his NBA debut
[90][91][92]
2008 2009 Jennings, BrandonBrandon Jennings G  United States Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Virginia) [93][94]
2009 Williams, LataviousLatavious Williams# F  United States Christian Life Center Academy (Humble, Texas) [95][96]
2010 2011 Tyler, JeremyJeremy Tyler C  United States San Diego High School (San Diego, California) [97][98]

^ 2: Secondary source mentions that Connie Simmons attended Forest Hills High School (Queens, New York).[74]

Controversy[edit]

Despite the success of some high school players drafted, the entry of high school players into the NBA remains controversial. Critics say that high school players are not mentally and physically mature or prepared enough to handle the pressure of professional play. Thus, they are more likely to fail.[14][99] Instead, they believe that colleges are useful at filtering out players who can dominate against weak competition in high school, but cannot succeed at a higher level of play. They also think that the influx of high schoolers bypassing colleges in favor of the NBA has caused collegiate game to deteriorate. Universities are wary of spending time recruiting as many players that are motivated financially to turn pro fresh out of high school.[99][100]

On the other hand, proponents argue that there is no valid reason to exclude high school players. Michael McCann, writer of law article "Illegal Defense: The Irrational Economics of Banning High School Players from the NBA Draft," contends that players drafted straight out of high school can do as well as any other players in the NBA. The article finds that "on average, these [high school] players perform better in every major statistical category than does the average NBA player".[101] Others instead believe that the problem was due to the lack of established farm system in basketball until recently. In other major sports, such as baseball and hockey, it is common for young players to develop in their minor league systems.[99]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  • a Each year is linked to an article about that particular NBA Draft.
  • b Year denotes the year when the player graduated from high school.
  • c Debut denotes the year when the player made his NBA debut. Each year is linked to an article about that particular NBA season.
  • d Information not available

References[edit]

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