In 2006, the National Basketball Association decided to no longer allow players to enter the draft straight out of high school. The league now requires athletes to play at least one year of college basketball to be eligible for the NBA.
While some reports have indicated that the “one-and-done” rule could be overturned as early as 2021, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski recently said discussions have come to a standstill.
Although the NBA does have its G League, which gives prospects an enticing path to professional basketball upon graduating, there are players who had successful careers without playing college or “minor” league basketball. Here are seven such superstars.
Hailing straight from Mount Zion Christian Academy, Tracy McGrady had quite a career, playing for 7 different NBA teams, including the Toronto Raptors, Orlando Magic, and Houston Rockets.
He made a name for himself in Orlando and is now an NBA Hall of Famer with seven All-Star appearances and two NBA scoring titles.
Latvian center Kristaps Porzingis began his professional career with EuroLeague team Sevilla when he was just 17 years old. He eventually entered the NBA Draft where he was selected 4th overall by the New York Knicks.
Despite tearing his ACL at 22 years old, Porzingis is on pace to become one of the greatest big men in NBA history.
Before joining the NBA, San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich told his star center, Tim Duncan, that the league wasn’t ready for someone of Manu Ginobili’s caliber.
“This guy is coming, and nobody in the U.S. knows how good he is,” Pop explained.
Selected as the 57th pick in the 2002 draft, Ginobili went on to have an incredible career, capturing four NBA Finals championships and two All-Star appearances.
Technically, Seattle Supersonics star Shawn Kemp enrolled at the University of Kentucky, but he never actually played college basketball due to poor SAT scores.
Nevertheless, he was already a man among boys at Concord High School in Elkhart, Indiana. His raw strength and remarkable athleticism went unrivaled during his time in the NBA.
When he wasn’t posterizing opponents he was playing in the NBA All-Star game.
Kevin Garnett had outstanding careers with both the Minnesota Timberwolves and Boston Celtics. While he didn’t reach the ACT requirement to attend college, college basketball was more than likely going to be too boring for him anyway.
Selected No. 5 overall in the 10095 NBA Draft, Garnett made the All-Star team in 14 of his 15 seasons and was crowned the league MVP in 2004. He also led the Celtics to an NBA Finals championship in 2008.
Who’s to say he didn’t fail the ACT on purpose?
Everyone who follows the NBA knows LeBron James would have been wasting his time had he gone to college to play basketball. Heck, he was probably ready to dominate the league as soon as he received his driver’s license.
James’ impact was immediately felt the first time he stepped onto an NBA court. There was no match for him in the league. He did what he wanted and scored at will. Going from high school superstar to All-Star basically happened overnight.
The world mourned the loss of L.A. Laker legend Kobe Bryant around this time last year after his helicopter crashed, killing nine people, including his daughter Gianna.
When asked what school he would have attended had he gone to college, Bryant said Duke University. Image the Black Mamba as a Blue Devil, dominating the league alongside Elton Brand and Shane Battier.
Bryant was selected 13th overall by the Charlotte Hornets, who then traded the Hall of Famer to the Los Angeles Lakers. The Gold and Purple would never be the same again.