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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
15 Could Have: Kyrie Irving
Kyrie's high school career began in Montclair, New Jersey, at Montclair Kimberley Academy. As a sophomore at Montclair he led the team to the State Championship, averaging 25.4 points in the process. After two years at the small New Jersey school Irving felt he needed a bigger challenge so he transferred to St. Patrick's High School where the competition was much higher. The move worked out well for Irving as he would become the number two ranked recruit coming out of high school.
14 Shouldn't Have: Korleone Young
As a high school player, Young was recruited by almost every powerhouse university in the country. With his stock high and money in his eyes, Young decided to skip college and go straight for the NBA. His stock slid dramatically in the days and weeks heading into the draft, and in 1998 the Pistons selected him with the 40th pick. Young’s time with the Pistons was very short lived. He appeared in three games at the end of the 1998-99 season. After the season, Detroit cut Young, citing his injury problems as the main reason for his departure from the team.
13 Could Have: DeMarcus Cousins
Cousins high school career began at LeFlore Magnet High School in his hometown of Mobile, Alabama. He was an elite talent from an early age, and by the time he was a junior his name was well known among the NBA scouting world. After his senior season Cousins was invited to all the high school All-Star games, as well as being ranked the number two player in his graduating class.
12 Shouldn't Have: Ndudi Ebi
Another one of those stellar high school kids from the 2003 high school graduating class. Ndudi Ebi was rated the third best player in high school during his senior season, but sadly he turned out to be the biggest bust of the class.
The Timberwolves selected Ebi with their first round pick in 2003. Ebi spent three seasons with the Wolves appearing in only 19 games. During his third season Minnesota attempted to send him to the D-League, but league rules did not allow them to send him down. Ultimately the Wolves released Ebi to make room for a more promising young player.
11 Could Have: John Wall
Wall's high school career was a bit rocky early on. He was forced to transfer after his sophomore year due to a family move. Wall repeated his sophomore season once he and his family were settled in their new location. Once at his new school Wall was cut from the basketball team for attitude related issues, so he decided to transfer once again. It wasn't until he found head coach Levi Beckwith that his issues began to erode. Beckwith helped Wall with his attitude towards lesser talented teammates and his on court personality.
10 Shouldn't Have: Jonathan Bender
In 1999 the Toronto Raptors drafted Jonathan Bender out of Picayune Memorial High School in Picayune, Mississippi. He was projected to be exactly what Kevin Durant actually turned out to be. Bender was a 7 feet, 200 pound skinny kid with freakish athleticism.
After selecting him fifth overall, the Raptors promptly traded him to the Indiana Pacers, for veteran forward Antonio Davis. The Pacers were hoping Bender would turn into a superstar, but it was still too early to know for sure at the time of the trade. As a teenager, Bender saw minimal court time, but in his third season he had the best year of his career, averaging over seven points and three rebounds. Following that season he signed a $28 million contract extension with the Pacers.
9 Could Have: Derrick Rose
In 2003 Derrick Rose was a freshman in high school, but he was already on the radar of most every Division I coach. Rose's high school coach had a strict rule about freshman playing on the varsity team, and the rule was upheld every for the blue chip Rose. Once a sophomore, Rose was immediately placed on the varsity roster, and he didn't disappoint, averaging 19.8 points, 5.1 rebounds, 8.3 assists and 2.4 steals as a sophomore. Rose would go on to receive every honor there is for a high school player, including getting his number retired, and being named to the All-Decade Team.
8 Shouldn't Have: Leon Smith
Leon Smith was selected out of Chicago’s famous Martin Luther King High School. He was drafted by the San Antonio Spurs in the first round, 29th overall in the 1999 draft. On draft day he was immediately traded to the Dallas Mavericks in exchange for the draft rights to Gordan Giriček and a second-round pick in the following year’s draft.
7 Could Have: Chris Bosh
Chris Bosh was regarded as a great high school basketball player as he headed into his senior season, he even had some scholarship offers from some pretty high level Universities. However, it was his senior year that set him apart from the rest.
6 Shouldn't Have: Kwame Brown
The first player to ever be selected number one overall straight out of high school, Kwame Brown was drafted by the Washington Wizards in 2001, a choice made by none other than Michael Jordan. Brown was ranked the best high school player in the country during his senior year, beating out future NBA players Eddy Curry and Tyson Chandler.
5 Could Have: Anthony Davis
Anthony Davis had one of the quickest rises to prominence ever witnessed at the high school level. During his first two years of high school, Davis was a point guard, barely measuring in above 6'. Davis finished his sophomore season at 6'4, and by the beginning of his junior year he was already up to 6'8. It was the summer after his junior season when his name began to spread across the nation. In just one year Davis had gone from an unknown guard, to the number two ranked player in his class.
4 Shouldn't Have: Sebastian Telfair
As a high school sophomore Telfair was on the cover of SLAM Magazine along with LeBron James. The headline across the cover of that magazine read, “The Takeover.” Well we all know how LeBron turned out; if you don’t, you’ve been living under a rock for 14 years.
3 Could Have: Kevin Durant
Durant played for three different high schools during his prep career, including two powerhouse schools; Oak Hill Academy his junior year and Montrose Christian School for his senior year. Durant was recognized as a top talent in his class, but it was during his senior season in which he ascended to the top two.
2 Shouldn't Have: Robert Swift
Robert Swift is one of the best examples of why kids should spend a year or two in college before entering a world of glitz, glamor, temptation and riches.
1 Could Have: Carmelo Anthony
Melo could have easily entered the NBA draft after his senior year of high school, and would have likely been a top three pick. However, he decided to spend a year in college, many believe it was so that he could be drafted the same year as his friend LeBron James.
During his one season in college, Anthony was clearly the best collegiate basketball player that year, as he showed by winning the NCAA Championship and the Final Four MVP. Anthony did what he set out to do during his single year with Syracuse, and he entered the NBA draft in 2003. In a stunning turn of events, Anthony fell to the number three pick when the Detroit Pistons chose to select Darko Milicic with the second pick, after LeBron was taken first. The Nuggets landed Anthony, and he helped lead them to several deep playoff runs before he was ultimately traded to his hometown New York Knicks.
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