Once upon a time, society didn’t have to deal with the “one-and-done” moniker. For a brief period, the National Basketball Association was content to let high schoolers make the jump to the highest level of the sport. It didn’t matter if these kids were ready. Whether they couldn’t get into college or thought they didn’t need it, no one was stopping them from making that major leap. Of course, this proved to have mixed results.
There is a big difference between being prepared to battle with the big boys and being in way over your head. History is littered with individuals who had no business taking the direct route to the NBA from high school. Remember Kwame Brown? Of course you do. The kid left Glynn Academy with all the promise in the world. He bypassed college, was selected first overall in the 2001 NBA Draft by the Washington Wizards, and proceeded to have a career that saw him average 6.6 points and 5.5 rebounds per game. That’s not exactly what you’re looking for from a 6-foot-11 center. Clearly he wasn’t ready to take his talents to the NBA.
Sometimes things did work out for these young hopefuls. Take Amar’e Stoudemire for example. He was the ninth overall pick in the 2002 draft and he’s put together a solid career. Stoudemire has made six All-Star Games and has career averages of 19 points and 8 rebounds per game. Had he not battled injuries over his 13-year career, the 6-foot-10 power forward may have made more than one All-NBA First Team.
Unfortunately, we’ll never know. The truth is, that’s the risk teams took when they opted to go with a kid straight from high school. Sometimes you end up with a Brown. Other times you end up with a Stoudemire. And sometimes, if you’re lucky, you end up with something much, much more.
With that, here’s a look at the seven best NBA players who came in straight from high school.