The trend of high school basketball players getting drafted in the NBA became more popular when two NBA stars, Kevin Garnett and Kobe Bryant, had an amazing and successful career. After that, many high school players aspire to skip college and play in the big league.
Some many critics and analysts are against the idea of high school players skipping college and going directly to the NBA. Some reasons are: they are not mentally and physically ready for a gruesome NBA season, high school basketball players aren’t good enough to compete with the experienced guys, and some of them may show poor performance, unlike their high school career, once they are drafted in the NBA.
However, some counter-arguments allowed high school basketball players to go directly to the NBA. Some critics stated that it is best if young players got early exposure in the big league, they may be more skillful than the former NBA players.
This article will showcase to you some of the greatest NBA players who didn’t go to college. We will also show you how it was started. Let’s go!
NBA Draft History
In the past, basketball players were required to have a college degree before they were eligible to enter the NBA. College basketball players were required to play for their high school teams even if they showed impressive highlights. This means that back in the early days, the rules were much stricter.
Back in 1962, Reggie Harding was the first high school player who skipped college and entered the NBA. He was almost drafted by the Detroit Pistons in the 1962 NBA draft even if he didn’t have any college degree. Because of this scenario, the NBA rule for drafting a high school player was changed. The rule stated that high school basketball players must be out of high school for at least one year before entering the NBA draft. Because of that, Reggie Harding played one year in the minor basketball league and was re-drafted by the Detroit Pistons in 1963.
This strict rule has been altered the following decade when the Supreme Court allowed high school players to skip college to enter the NBA draft immediately after they complete high school. But there is another factor to consider the eligibility of a high school player to enter the NBA draft, and that is he must prove that he and his family have a financial problem.
However, this rule was changed in 1974 when one high school basketball player declaring himself for the NBA draft after he graduated high school.
NBA Players Who Didn’t Go To College
Below are the noticeable NBA players who didn’t go to college and started playing in the NBA:
1. Moses Malone
Moses Malone is one of the NBA players who skipped college and got a contract from the big league. Malone was drafted in the ABA, the rival of the NBA, in 1974. The NBA and the ABA were desperate to find talented basketball players that is why they rivaled for Moses. However, Moses was drafted by the Utah team of the ABA straight out of high school.
Moses Malone immediately became a problem for the other team because of his impressive scoring. Malone averaged 18 points and 14 rebounds in his rookie season. His career became successful, and after the NBA and ABA merger, he won multiple achievements. Throughout his 19-year career, Moses won an NBA championship title, three league MVP awards, twelve straight All-Star selections, and after he retired, he was inducted in the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame.
2. Darryl Dawkins & Bill Willoughby
Darryl Dawkins and Bill Willoughby had a chance to play in the NBA because they declared themselves for the 1975 NBA draft. They were both selected in the first-round pick. Dawkins was known because of his monstrous dunk and impressive plays. On the other hand, Willoughby’s career has not been as good as Dawkins’ career. He played for six different NBA teams within eight years and only averaged six points per game.
3. Kevin Garnett
Kevin Garnett was drafted in the NBA in 1995 and won USA Today’s High School Player of the Year. When Garnett was drafted, many critics argued that he wasn’t ready for the big league, but luckily he was drafted. The Minnesota Timberwolves drafted Kevin Garnett as their fifth overall in the 1995 NBA draft. Garnett proved to the critics that he deserves to be in the NBA by having an impressive rookie year.
After his rookie year, his scoring and rebounding went high, and he shocked the fans and critics who criticized him in his rookie season. Garnett had a successful 23 years career in the NBA where he made 15 All-Star teams, won four rebounding titles, won one NBA championship title and one MVP award. He was also a 12-time all-Defense and 9-time All-NBA.
4. Tracy Mcgrady
Tracy Mcgrady entered the NBA draft straight out of high school. He was selected by the Toronto Raptors as their ninth pick in the 1997 NBA draft. In his rookie year, Mcgrady had a low-minute playing time, but he improved slowly. He left the Raptors for the Orlando Magic in 2000, and he became one of the league’s most prolific scorers and became an MVP candidate. Mcgrady was traded to the Houston Rockets where he showcased his scoring skill and teamed up with Yao Ming for a playoff run. Tracy Mcgrady was known for his 13 points in 33 seconds.
Tracy Mcgrady had a chance to win a title, but he was plagued by injuries that ended his career. He retired in 2013 with some awards like NBA’s most improved player and 2-times All-NBA Team.
5. Kobe Bryant
After Garnett gets a spot in the NBA, Kobe followed him the next year. Kobe Bryant and Garnett were superstars during their high school careers. They both won the national player of the year award and were expected to go to the NBA after high school. Kobe Bryant’s rookie season became rough for him because he’s playing time wasn’t enough for him, and he received negative criticism from fans and other players. However, Kobe proved the critics wrong by becoming the youngest NBA player to win the NBA Slam Dunk Title.
Bryant was often compared to Michael Jordan for most of his career because of his playstyle. Kobe Bryant had an astounding NBA career where he won five NBA championship titles, played 18-times in All-Star games, won two NBA finals MVP awards, and won one NBA MVP award.
6. LeBron James
Lebron James is the most popular NBA player who skipped college to play in the NBA. He was idolized by today’s generation because of his impressive game. Likewise, Lebron James was criticized by analysts and fans soon after the draft night. He was drafted by the Cleveland Cavaliers as their first pick in the 2003 NBA draft. He proved the critics wrong by getting his first field goal with a monstrous dunk. The fans and analysts were shocked and knew that Lebron James will soon be a star and soon inducted into the Hall of Fame.
Lebron James is still playing at his highest level and looks like he will never run out of bullets too soon. He will probably become a Hall of Famer soon after he retires. He is currently playing for the Los Angeles Lakers, and he already gave the Lakers another championship in the NBA season 2019-2020. Lebron James will possibly have more rings as long as he stays healthy.
Failed High School NBA Players
These players didn’t have a successful NBA career even though they played well during their high school careers. Their NBA career didn’t end up like Kobe, Garnett, and Lebron James. Again, critics started to voice out their opinion with these high school players. Critics think that these players were unprepared for the professional basketball league.
These players proved that the critics were quite right about drafting high school players is not a positive thing to do. They did not meet the expectations of the world, and they failed to play as supposed they expected them to be. Another problem is that these players wasted the money given by each franchise to them. These players already got fully paid and never worked to improve their game.
Some failed high school NBA players were Kwame Brown, Korleone Young, Eddy Curry, Johnathan Bender, Darius Miller, Andray Blatche, Robert Swift, and Travis Outlaw.
Current NBA Draft Rules
The newly created NBA draft rules for high school basketball players who aspired to go into the NBA was simple. High school basketball players must be out of high school at least one year before entering the NBA draft. Some high school players like Zion Williamson decided to play one year at college before entering the NBA draft, while some chose to play basketball overseas. Other player’s decision was not to play in any league, and they work out with professional trainers during their one-year vacant.
Even though high school players can go through the NBA without going to college, the NBA required players to be 19-years old. However, there are some rumors that the NBA will drop down the required age to 18. For me, this could be exciting because it is fun to watch young players compete with the experienced guys inside the basketball court.
Do you think that the NBA should drop down the age limit back to 18 years old? If yes, then why? Let us hear your opinion in the comments section below.