There have been over 40 High School basketball players who have been drafted directly from high school into the NBA, skipping any potential college careers, for a chance to make it big immediately. The transition from Prep to Pro is a fraught one and no matter how good you are in high school, it takes an exceptional talent to make the jump. There are of course a few big names that were big hits and succeeded with the jump, including a handful who will end up going from High School to the Hall Of Fame. On the other end of the spectrum are the players who made it to the NBA but then found the jump just a little too much and were unable to translate their talent and potential to this newer, bigger, faster game and ended up as disappointing misses. Then of course there are a few unique individuals who you could call obsolete draft picks. Those that did not even manage to make it into the NBA for any significant amount of time. Here is the list of the five best, five worst, and five useless Prep-to-Pro NBA draft picks.
15. Best: Kobe Bryant
The Lakers great just wrapped up a 20 year NBA career this past season finishing with 60 points in his final game. Unlike some other high school draft picks he was not seen as a slam dunk choice. He was drafted by the Charlotte Hornets at the request of the Los Angeles Lakers as a part of their trade of Vlade Divac. The Hornets however would have never considered taking him for themselves. Once in the NBA, Kobe slowly made his way into the rotation in LA and soon he even cracked the starting lineup to become the youngest person to ever start in the NBA. In his second year, Kobe won the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year Award and from there his career continued to take off. Before long he had his first NBA Championship which turned into a three-peat. Ultimately he would claim five rings, an MVP trophy in 2008, and be an NBA All-Star 18 times.
14. Worst: Kwame Brown
As a journeyman NBA player, Kwame Brown has had a halfway decent career that spanned over a dozen years. Unfortunately he was the first overall pick in the 2001 NBA Draft which meant that a decent journeyman career would be considered a bust. The general consensus around Brown was that he was the best high school player in the country. As a result, the Washington Wizards and team president Michael Jordan decided to choose him with the number one pick. High expectations did not match the low production on the court and despite improving marginally in the following years, Brown never broke through and was traded to the Los Angeles Lakers in 2005. In LA he was inconsistent with flashes of potential that he usually did not live up to. Brown continued to survive in the NBA however, with stints in Memphis, Detroit, Charlotte, and Golden State. Despite lasting a long time in the league, as a highly touted Prep-to-Pro draft pick he was a disappointment.
13. Useless: Ousmana Cisse
Originally from the African country of Mali, Ousmane Cisse became a breakout star at Montgomery Catholic High School in Alabama. After leading his team to a state Championship, he declared for the 2001 NBA Draft. With the 46th pick, the Denver Nuggets took a chance on him but because of an injury he never played in the Mile High City. He first ended up on the Harlem Globetrotters before bouncing around semi-pro leagues between being signed by the Orlando Magic for a day and the Toronto Raptors for a few days. Eventually he found a spot in the Israeli Basketball league and had a few years of success, but never found his way back to the NBA. For this Cisse is considered to be a useless NBA Draft pick.
12. Best: Moses Malone
Moses Malone is known best for his time with the Philadelphia 76ers where he helped them win an NBA Championship in 1983 while also being named the Finals MVP. Known as the “Chairman of the Boards” for his affinity for rebounding, Malone is third on the all-time rebounding list behind Wilt Chamberlain and Bill Russell. Malone also spent time with the Houston Rockets where he made the Finals in 1981, as well as the Bullets, Hawks, Bucks, and Spurs over his almost 20 year career. In addition to being a 12 time All-Star, Malone also claimed three MVP Awards. At the moment Moses Malone is the ONLY player drafted directly out of high school who is now in the NBA Hall of Fame. For a kid straight out of high school, Malone sure made an impact.
11. Worst: Sebastian Telfair
Another decent NBA player who is on this list because of how much better he could have been is Sebastian Telfair. Originally a Brooklyn, New York schoolboy star, Telfair decided against heading to Louisville for college and instead declared for the 2004 NBA Draft. As the number two high school point guard prospect he was chosen by the Portland Trailblazers with the 13th overall pick in the draft. Telfair managed to crack the starting lineup in his rookie year but it was for a team that was not very good to begin with as the Blazers finished with their worst won-loss record since the ’70s. He improved marginally in his second season but his performance was still not up to par and he soon lost his job and ended up being traded to the Celtics. He did not remain in Boston for long and was soon off to the Timberwolves as part of the trade that sent Kevin Garnett to the Celtics. After over a decade he is still bouncing around the league but he is still considered a miss.