What do LeBron James, Kobe Bryant and Kevin Garnett all have in common? Yes, they are icons in the game of basketball but they are some of the amazing high school talents that skipped the college game and joined the NBA.
In total there have been 45 players drafted in the NBA straight out of high school with Reggie Harding being the first in the 1962 draft up until Amir Johnson in 2005. After 2005, the NBA and player’s union made an agreement where the draft age was raised from 18 to 19 and the player had to be at least one year removed from his high school graduation.
We have seen loopholes where guys like Emmanuel Mudiay and Brandon Jennings played professionally overseas for one year after HS then entered the NBA Draft. 2005 was a historic draft where it was the last year a team could select players directly from high school.
With the NBA in talks of lowering the draft age once again let’s take a look back at the last time high school players were drafted in the NBA. Eight high school prospects were taken in the 2005 NBA Draft. Where are they now?
- High School: Seattle Prep (Seattle, WA)
- Drafted: #6 overall by the Portland Trail Blazers
- Playing career: 2005-2010 (Trail Blazers), 2010-2012 (Timberwolves), 2012-2015 (Wizards)
- Career stats: 8.7 points, 3.1 rebounds, 1.0 assists in 580 games (266 starts)
- Career awards: None
Martell Webster was the number five best high school player in 2005 and committed to play at the University of Washington but instead opted to go to the NBA. Portland was struggling to make the playoffs and selected Webster 6th overall in hopes that he would help the Blazers become a legit playoff team.
Webster had an okay rookie year averaging 6.6 points per game and had a stint in the then D-League, making him the highest drafted player at the time to be sent to the minors. He had his moments but never developed into the high scorer Portland had hoped for and was traded to the Minnesota Timberwolves during the 2010 offseason. He had an injury-riddled two-year run there before being waived by the team.
He signed with the Washington Wizards by the injury bug followed him and after three years in the Nations Captial, he was waived. He officially retired after joining the New Orleans Pelicans training camp roster five days earlier.
- High School: St. Joseph (Metuchen, NJ)
- Drafted: #10 overall by the Los Angeles Lakers
- Playing career: 2005-2012 (Lakers), 2013-2014 (Cavaliers), 2014 (Pacers)
- Career stats: 11.5 points, 7.7 rebounds, 1.2 assists, 1.6 blocks in 418 games (319 starts)
- Career awards: 2x NBA champion, 2012 All-Star, 2012 All-NBA Second Team
At 17 years and 244 days old, Andrew Bynum holds the distinction of being the youngest player ever drafted in the NBA. Bynum had a decent tenure for the purple and gold, helping them win back-to-back championships while earning an All-Star and All-NBA selection in the process.
Sadly, constant knee injuries derailed a once promising career for Bynum. He was eventually traded to the Philadelphia 76ers in the famous Dwight Howard four-team trade but never played a game for the franchise because of another knee injury. He joined the Cleveland Cavaliers and Indiana Pacers for the final season of his career but more injuries continued to follow and has not played an NBA game since.
Another case of injuries derailing a promising player.
- High School: Gulf Shores Academy (Houston, TX)
- Drafted: #18 overall by the Boston Celtics
- Playing career: 2005-2007 (Celtics), 2007-2008 (Timberwolves), 2008 (Rockets), 2008-2009 (Mavericks), 2011-2012 (Nets), 2012-2013 (Pacers), 2013-2015 (Suns), 2015-2016 (Heat), 2016-2017 (Celtics), 2017-present (Rockets)
- Career stats: 9.8 points, 2.5 rebounds in 642 games (118 starts) *as of 2/28/19*
- Career awards: 2007 Slam Dunk Contest Champion
Gerald Green was the Number 1 high school player in 2005 and after committing to play for Oklahoma State University, he signed with an agent, making him ineligible for the NCAA.
Green had limited playing time in his rookie year but had a more significant role in his sophomore season. His high-flying dunking ability earned him a spot in the Dunk Contest during the 2007 All-Star Weekend.
After two years in Boston, Green was shipped in the famous five on one trade to the Minnesota Timberwolves for Kevin Garnett. He played in 29 games for the franchise before being shipped to Houston but was waived by them after one game. A disappointing run in Dallas led him to play overseas, with his NBA playing career in doubt.
He had a two-year run overseas were he played professionally in Russia and China and even had a stint in the D-League. He came back to the NBA on a 10-day contract with the New Jersey Nets. Since then, he has been a reliable role player wherever he signed. Currently, he is a key bench payer for the Houston Rockets. Not bad for a guy who one time was out of the league completely.
- High School: Skyline (Dallas, TX)
- Drafted: #34 overall by the Utah Jazz
- Playing career: 2005-2012 (Jazz), 2012-2014 (Cavaliers), 2014-2017 (Pacers), 2017-2019 (Raptors), 2019-present (Grizzlies)
- Career stats: 9.6 points, 2.4 rebounds, 1.1 assists in 831 games (303 starts) *as of 2/28/19*
- Career awards: None
C.J. Miles was Mr. Texas Basketball in 2005 and planned to attend the University of Texas if he was not selected in the first round. He was selected by the Jazz in the second round and decided to stay in the NBA after Utah offered him a first-round rookie deal.
Miles had a seven-year run for the Jazz, where he was a consistent role player for the team. His 334 made three-pointers is good for 10th all-time in team history. He joined the Cleveland Cavaliers where he had a decent tenure before being a key piece for the Indiana Pacers from 2014-2017. Currently, he was involved in the Raptors-Grizzlies Marc Gasol trade where Miles is now a member of the Memphis Grizzlies.
- High School: Lanier (Jackson, MI)
- Drafted: 40th overall by the Golden State Warriors
- Playing career: 2005-2012 (Warriors), 2012-2013 (Bucks), 2013-2015 (Mavericks), 2015-2017 (Pacers)
- Career stats: 17.8 points, 3.5 rebounds, 4.6 assists, 1.7 steals in 833 games (713 starts)
- Career awards: 2007 Most Improved Player
Long before Stephen Curry was the guy, Monta Ellis was a scoring machine for Golden State Warriors. After a rookie year where he averaged 6.8 points, 2.1 rebounds and 1.6 assists per game, his numbers shot up his sophomore year. His 16.5 point, 3.2 rebounds, 4.1 assists and 1.7 steal season earned him the 2007 Most Improved Player award.
His play only improved, averaging as high as 25.5 points a game in 2010. However, there was a shift in stardom once the 2011 lockout was ending. Seeing that the Warriors looked to have a future with young guards Curry and newly drafted Klay Thompson, Ellis was looked to be expandable. He was eventually traded to the Milwaukee Bucks, where his scoring ability did not stop, averaging close to 20 points during his tenure there.
He had two-year stints in Dallas and Indiana and has not played in the league since 2017. People may not remember Ellis, but he was a baller.
- High School: South Gwinnett (Snellville, GA)
- Drafted: 45th overall by the Philadelphia 76ers
- Playing career: 2005-2012 (76ers), 2012-2014 (Hawks), 2014-2015 (Raptors), 2015-2017 (Lakers), 2017 (Rockets), 2017-present (Clippers)
- Career stats: 14.1 points, 2.2 rebounds, 3.3 assists in 918 games (109 starts) *as of 2/28/19*
- Career awards: 2x Sixth Man of the Year
Arguably the best player on this list, Lou Williams is considered one of the best sixth men in league history. He has played for six different teams and only started 109 games in his career. No matter where he has played, you know Williams would give you a solid 15 points off the bench and give the team a spark that they would desperately need.
He won his first of two Sixth Man of the Year awards during his only season with the Toronto Raptors where he averaged 15.5 points a game. Williams won the award again this past season with the Los Angeles Clippers after averaging a career-high 22.6 points per game in 79 games in only 19 starts.
With a career scoring average of while shooting (including from the three-point line), Williams is a scorer and looks to have many more seasons in the NBA if he continues to play at a high level.
- High School: South Kent (South Kent, CT)
- Drafted: 49th overall by the Washington Wizards
- Playing career: 2005-2012 (Wizards), 2012-2014 (Nets)
- Career stats: 10.1 points, 5.4 rebounds, 1.4 assists in 564 games (191 starts)
- Career awards: None
As the Number 4 best high school player in the country, Andray Blatche was a monster. He averaged 27.5 points, 16.0 rebounds and a ridiculous 6.0 blocks per game during his five years at South Kent High School.
The Washington Wizards took him in the second round, thinking with a little development, they can slowly bring him in and he’ll be a top center in the NBA. He had his moments which included at 2010-11 campaign where he averaged 16.8 points, 8.2 rebounds and 1.5 steals but never developed into the player Washington had hoped he would become. After a two-year run with the Brooklyn Nets, Blatche left the NBA and has since played for the Chinese Basketball Association.
- High School: Westchester (Los Angeles, CA)
- Drafted: 56th overall by the Detroit Pistons
- Playing career: 2005-2009 (Pistons), 2009-2015 (Raptors), 2015-2017 (Celtics), 2017-present (76ers)
- Career stats: 7.1 points, 5.4 rebounds, 1.2 assists, 1.0 blocks in 857 games (481 starts) *as of 2/28/19*
- Career awards: None
Amir Johnson has the distinction of being the last player in NBA history to ever be selected straight out of high school after withdrawing his commitment to the University of Louisville.
Johnson only played in three games his rookie year, spending his time mainly in the minors to develop his game. With the Pistons being one of the best teams in the NBA at the time and having guys like Ben Wallace, Rasheed Wallace, Antonio McDyess and fellow draft class member Jason Maxiell taking a lot of the minutes, they did not need to rush Johnson right away.
He was traded to the Toronto Raptors during the 2009 NBA offseason where he saw his playing time increase and become a consistent starter for the playoff Raptors. He was a starter during his two years as a Boston Celtic before joining the Philadelphia 76ers as a veteran role player for the team. 14 years in the league and is still playing at a high and valuable level? Impressive.