Before One-Year Rule, High School Players Were Doing Just Fine in the NBA

Bryan FlynnAnalyst IJune 12, 2009

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Much has been made of the NBA’s one-year rule. The rule the NBA has used to make high school seniors wait at least one year out of high school before they can enter the NBA Draft. The NBA has talked about extending the rule to two or three years before a player can enter the draft.

We hear how hurtful it was for players to enter the NBA early and that a year in college would make them better players. While I do not doubt a year in college could help just about every player. I decided to look and see how high school players have done since 1995 and entering the draft.

I used 1995 since that was the year Kevin Garnett started the trend of players jumping straight in to the pros. I was surprised to find out that every player but four played more than one year in the NBA.

Only one player, Ousmane Cisse, has not seen any playing time on an NBA team. After be drafted by the Denver Nuggets in the second round in 2001, Cisse has not been able to find his way on to an NBA team.

The other three players Korleone Young, Leon Smith, and James Lang only saw one year of NBA action after being drafted. Leon smith did play only one game for the Seattle Supersonics in '03-'04 but, really only saw action with the Atlanta Hawks in '01-'02.

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Young and Lang were drafted in the second round so they were long shots to catch on with a team. Young was drafted by the Detroit Pistons in 1998 and Lang was drafted by New Orleans Hornets in 2003.

Since '95, all but three players also have played two to four years in the NBA. Two of those players Robert Swift and Shawn Livingston have missed time due to injuries but are still in the NBA. The other player Ndudi Ebi was drafted in the first round by the Minnesota Timberwolves in 2003. Ebi played two years for the Timberwolves from 2003 to 2005.

That means of the 39 players drafted straight from high school since 1995 a vast majority 32 to be exact have played five or more years in the NBA. That would be if all the 2005 draftees play next year. There have been several super stars to come straight out of high school in to the NBA.

Household names like Garnett, LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard, and more are well know. Yes, some have not lived up to the hype, but they were able to stay in the league for more than a couple of seasons. Some players have blossomed as time has gone on.

I am speaking of course to Rashard Lewis, Kendrick Perkins, J.R. Smith, Josh Smith, and more. While they might not ever be superstars, these players have become solid players. That begs the question to be asked. Why did the NBA make the one-year rule?

I would have to say that the rule was made to keep players that were not ready to start in the NBA right away a chance to prove what they could do against college competition. Sure there will be players that are ready to jump straight to the NBA. The LeBrons and Kobes of the world will come along every so often.

The thing the NBA was trying to do was make players who were not can’t miss right way starters a chance to improve their game in college where they will get a chance to play. In the NBA, unless it is practice or you can break your way in to the rotation, there is no playing time.

I know there is the D-League as well, but if you're drafting high school players and paying them a ton of money fans and owners what them on the floor or at least in the arena. With a year in college scouts and players can see better how they measure up to top talent.

The jury is still out on whether or not the one year is working with players leaving college after one year for the NBA and being better players. The real problem is the scandals it has created in Memphis and USC conserving academics. If you believe college players should want and education you have to hate the one year rule.

The thing is that before the rule most of the high school players were able to catch on in the NBA if they stay for a year or two they could come in to the NBA more polished players and not have to sit or work their way on to a team from the D-League.

Late first round to second-round players could use the year they are in college to become better players and move in to the upper to mid part of the first round.

If you’re a player looking for more money the one year rule could help you. If you can put up some good numbers in college and move up in the draft from where you would have been drafted in high school. Otherwise, it only makes players like O.J. Mayo and Derrick have to wait a year before they start cashing big checks.

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