Sunday, July 15, 2007
Ready or Not: High Schoolers Have Made History
The issue of an age-limit has been nothing if not controversial as it applies to NBA eligibility. As the rule is now, a player must be at least 19 and one year removed from high school in order to be eligible which leads players to attend at least one year of college. As a fairly nerdy academia myself, I am in favor of this rule, but there are certainly reasonable arguments against it.
Even though the jump straight to the L has destroyed as many lives as it has improved the fact that the choice is left up to the players means the blame is really left on them. Sure, they’re kids, but as Uncle Ben would say, “with great power comes great responsibility”. No matter how you view the rule, some high schoolers have made hige impacts in the NBA and some of the best players playing now came straight outta high school.
The trend all started when the Sixers took Darryl Dawkins 5th in 1975 and after he took them to the NBA Finals in ’77, it was popularized. Moses Malone came straight out to, and though Shawn Kemp technically enrolled in college, he never played a game. But the true flow of high schoolers was kicked off by Kevin Garnett. Though skinny and young, he was athletic enough to make an impact right away and this inspired some of the best players to come right out. Since then, plenty of high schoolers have made history by coming into the NBA. Here are some of the best:
’96: Kobe Bryant - Charlotte Hornets
Jermaine O’Neal – Portland Trail Blazers
’97: Tracy McGrady – Toronto Raptors
’98: Al Harrington – Indiana Pacers
Rashard Lewis – Seattle Supersonics
’00: Darius Miles – Los Angeles Clippers
’01: Eddy Curry – Chicago Bulls
Tyson Chandler – Los Angeles Clippers
’02: Amare Stoudemire – Phoenix Suns
’03: LeBron James – Cleveland Cavaliers
’04: Dwight Howard – Orlando Magic
*Note: I listed the teams that picked them, not the ones for whom they first played. I refuse to list Kwame Brown, as he is terrible, but he was the first high schooler picked first overall.
If you read all that you deserve a break, so check out this mix. Not all these players skipped college, but they could have:
It becomes pretty clear that it isn’t impossible for a player to make a huge impact coming from high school and although I hold no convictions about the NBA’s policy on age, it wouldn’t be a disaster to let the players skip college. At the end of the day, the choice should be up to the player and though they are often naïve, it is their mistake to make.