The concept of teenagers graduating high school and being selected in the NBA Draft during the same month is crazy in the minds of many. But a group of former and current NBA players have made the leap and been successful.
Their success led to more and more high school basketball stars jumping to the NBA too quickly. Hence, a new rule was installed in 2006 that states that high school players are only eligible for draft selection one year after graduating from high school. The player must also be at least 19 years old at the end of the calendar year of the draft.
Instead of top high school players each year jumping to the NBA, they are now going to school for one year—the “one-and-done” phenomenon. But what if this rule was always in place? Where would have the players have gone to school that have dominated the NBA over the last decade?
The most famous high school basketball recruit ever quickly became the biggest star in the NBA. If James, who was selected #1 overall in 2003, had been forced to pick a school, it would have been Ohio State. He would surely have improved a Buckeye team that finished 14-16 and ninth in the Big 10.
There were also rumours that LeBron would have played football while in Columbus.
Kobe has made it clear that he would have attended Duke had he made the decision to go to school. He says that he always wanted to play under Coach Krzyzewski and was able to at the 2008 Olympic Games.
Bryant would have been a part of the '96-'97 Blue Devils team that won the ACC regular season title but was upset by Providence in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Kobe would have competed with 'The Alaskan Assassin,
The Florida native had committed to John Calipari and the Memphis Tigers for the 2002-03 season. But Stoudemire would later de-commit and immediately chase his dream to play in the NBA. Had Amar'e spent a year in Memphis, he would have been in the same recruiting class as enforcing big-man Rodney Carney. He'd have been a star on an otherwise mediocre team that was upset in the first round of the NCAA Tournament as a 7-seed.
The Suns selected Stoudemire ninth overall in the 2002 NBA Draft; he was the only high school player to be chosen in the first round that year.
The gamble paid off as Amar'e was named NBA Rookie of the Year. He has averaged 21.8 point per game and 8.8 rebounds per game in his 10 seasons.
The #1 pick in the 2004 NBA Draft is currently the top centre in the game. What school would Dwight have chosen for the 2004-05 season if he had decided to go to college first? The Atlanta native would have chosen North Carolina.
That Tar Heel team marched its way to a national championship and had four players (Marvin Williams, Raymond Felton, Sean May, Rashad McCants) selected in the lottery of the 2005 NBA Draft.
This may have already been one of the greatest college basketball teams ever assembled, but with the addition of Howard, North Carolina could possibly have run the table and become the first men's team to complete a season undefeated since the 1976 Indiana Hoosiers.
McGrady would have attended Kentucky, but after being named 1997 High School Player of the Year by the USA Today, T-Mac took his game to the NBA and was drafted ninth overall by the Toronto Raptors. Although McGrady got off to a slow start professionally, he would have been a vital piece to a Kentucky team that won the national championship.
Former Kentucky swingmen Allen Edwards and Jeff Sheppard were two great college players, but neither had the combo of size and ability to slash to the basket that McGrady had.
Andrew Bynum had committed to UConn, but made the last-minute decision to enter the 2005 NBA Draft; the last season in which high school players were eligible.
The 2005-06 Huskies were so talented that they did not rank outside of the top four all season long. They also boasted six future NBA players. But Jim Calhoun's most talented squad (arguably) did not win a championship; they never even made it to the Final Four. George Mason denied UConn of a second title in three years.
Bynum has developed into one the top centres in the NBA. Had he spent at least one season in Storrs, the combination of Josh Boone, Hilton Armstrong and Bynum would have made for a lethal frontcourt.
Malone was one of the first high school players to jump to professional basketball when he opted to not play at Maryland under legendary head coach Lefty Driesell. He chose to join the ABA's Utah Stars instead. Moses went on to be named to 12 NBA All-Star games, win the 1983 NBA Finals (MVP), score 29,580 points, and be named to the NBA's 50th Anniversary All-time team. It is safe to say skipping a year or so at College Park was worth the risk.
In 1974, the Terrapins were establishing themselves as a national powerhouse and Moses would have been on an Elite Eight team playing along side Brad Davis and John Lucas competing for a national championship. Instead, Terp fans had to wait until 2003.
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