The majority of high school to NBA players were selected between 1995 and 2005; the former was the year in which Kevin Garnett was drafted and the latter is the year in which the practice was banned. Among the top five high school to NBA players are MVP award winners Kevin Garnett, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, and Moses Malone.
Though he wasn’t the first notable high school to NBA player, Kevin Garnett opened the flood gates of prep-to-pro players when he was selected fifth overall by the Minnesota Timberwolves in 1995. In his rookie season, Garnett became an immediate contributor, averaging 10.4 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 1.6 blocks per game. By his sophomore year, Garnett was already an NBA All-Star and he has achieved that honor 12 more times since. In 2008, after joining the Boston Celtics, Garnett won his first NBA championship. With an MVP award, nine All-NBA selections, and a Defensive Player of the Year award, Kevin Garnett is one of the best NBA high school draftees.
The most successful high school to NBA player is Kobe Bryant. Drafted 13th overall in 1996 by Charlotte and immediately traded to the Los Angeles Lakers, Bryant has been a part of four NBA championship teams. Like Garnett, Bryant became an All-Star in his second professional season and he has made it 11 times since. Bryant has an MVP and a Finals MVP award, 11 appearances on All-NBA teams, and two scoring titles, making him one of the best prep-to-pro basketball players of all time.
One of the more recent top high school to NBA players is 2009 MVP LeBron James. James was drafted first overall in 2003 by Cleveland and won Rookie of the Year after already averaging more than 20 points, five rebounds, and five assists per game. He has made six All-Star teams and won MVP in two of them. He became scoring champion in 2008 by averaging 30 points per game and won a league MVP award in 2009.
The year after James was drafted first overall, the Orlando Magic made high school to NBA player Dwight Howard the number one pick in the 2004 NBA Draft. Howard didn’t take long to become an inside force, averaging a double-double with 12 points and ten rebounds per game in his rookie year. He has averaged a double-double in all of his six seasons and has led the league in rebounding three times. Howard has been named for four straight All-Star teams, three straight All-NBA teams, and won the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year award in 2009.
The first major basketball player drafted from high school to the pros was Moses Malone. Malone was selected out of high school to the ABA in 1974 before the league merged with the NBA. Malone went on to win three NBA MVP awards in 1979, 1982, and 1983, becoming an NBA champion in his final MVP season. Malone was a 12-time NBA All-Star and is not just one of the greats out of high school, but one of the greatest NBA players in league history.