Up until 2006 high school basketball players were allowed to enter the NBA draft as soon as they finished their senior year of high school. In 2006, then NBA commissioner David Stern decided to establish new guidelines for NBA eligibility. Beginning in 2006 high school players had to wait one calendar year after graduation before being eligible for the NBA draft. The rule was designed to help protect these young athletes from entering the league too early and also to help keep the NBA level of play as high as possible. The rule was met with mixed opinions, and it certainly has impacted the college basketball landscape.
The rule did help many players with their development, as it forced them to attend University, where they learned the fundamentals of elite level basketball. With that said, however, there have also been many players who were ready for the NBA immediately after finishing high school. Sometimes you wonder if that year of college was really necessary. Did they learn anything new? Did their bodies and/or minds really mature that much with the year in college? Today we will give you the 10 players who shouldn’t have skipped college and 10 who could have.
20. Shouldn’t Have: Ousmane Cisse
Ousmane Cisse attended Montgomery Catholic High School in Montgomery, Alabama. While in high school Cisse was a superstar, helping lead his team to a 2A State Championship. In his first game as a Catholic Knight, he broke the Alabama High School Athletic Association’s record for blocked shots… in the first half.
After his senior season of high school ball, he decided to put his name in the NBA Draft. Being a supremely undersized center, at only 6’9″ his stock was never incredibly high as a draft pick. Ultimately he was selected in the middle of the second round by the Denver Nuggets, who signed him, then released him after he suffered an injury before ever playing an NBA game. Cisse found his way onto the Harlem Globetrotters for a short period of time before playing in the USBL and overseas professionally.
19. Could Have: Kevin Love
It was clear that Kevin Love was on his way to the NBA at an early age. In his sophomore season at Lake Oswego High in Oregon, Love averaged 25.3 points and 15.3 rebounds on his way to a State Championship final. The following two seasons would be nearly identical, with slight increases in his stats, as well as a win in the State Title game.
After three straight trips to the State Championship, and being the Gatorade National Male Athlete of the Year Kevin decided to head to UCLA for his college career. As a freshman with the Bruins, Love led the team to the Final Four as a freshman, and was named the Naismith Player of the Year as a freshman. Love entered the NBA after just one year in Westwood, and was drafted fifth overall in 2007.
18. Shouldn’t Have: James Lang
Part of the amazing 2003 high school graduating class, James Lang declared for the NBA straight out of high school along with LeBron James, Travis Outlaw, Ndudi Ebi and Kendrick Perkins. Lang, unfortunately had the worst luck of the four.
The New Orleans Hornets drafted Lang 48th overall in 2003, but he was unable to make the team due to back injuries. In 2005 James attended a pre-season camp with the Utah Jazz, but again he was unable to make the team’s 15-man roster. In 2006 the Washington Wizards gave Lang his first and only taste of NBA action. He appeared in 11 games for the Wizards where he averaged one point and one rebound per game. In 2009 his dream of ever playing pro ball again was snatched from him when he was partially paralyzed from a stroke.
17. Could Have: Shareef Abdur-Rahim
Often forgotten Shareef Abdur-Rahim was one of the greatest high school players in the history of high school hoops. Shareef began his basketball career at Joseph Wheeler High School in Marietta, Georgia. He was a stand out from the day he set foot on the hardwood. During the 1990s Georgia was a hotbed for basketball talent, and Abdur-Rahim was the head of the class. He was named Mr. Basketball for the state of Georgia in both 1995 and 1996.
Rahim has always been a philosophical kind of guy, so rather than go straight to the NBA he opted to spend a year at Cal Berkeley. As a freshman he averaged 21.1 points, and 8.4 rebounds per game, while holding down a 3.5 GPA. With that phenomenal season, Shareef became the first freshman in Pac-10 history to be named the Conference Player of the Year. His NBA career lasted 11 seasons before he decided to call it quits to pursue other, more challenging life endeavors.
16. Shouldn’t Have: Ricky Sanchez
Ricky Sanchez was the fourth Puerto Rican player ever to be drafted. If you have never heard of Ricky that is not surprising. Sanchez has never played a single minute in an NBA game. After being taken with the 35th pick in the 2005 draft, Sanchez was immediately traded to the Denver Nuggets. That was the trend for Sanchez as his rights have been traded a total of four times. There is even a Philadelphia 76ers themed podcast titled “The Rights to Ricky Sanchez.”
Even though he has never played a game in the NBA, Ricky has carved out a nice little niche for himself in the Baloncesto Superior Nacional league. This is the professional league in his home country of Puerto Rico. Sanchez has won a championship there as well as winning the Most Improved Player of the Year Award in 2011.