In 1962, the Detroit Pistons selected high schooler Reggie Harding in the fourth round of the NBA Draft. While Harding was not allowed to play for a full year, in 1971 Spencer Haywood brought a case against the NBA that went all the way up to the Supreme Court, who ruled that the NBA must allow those with “hardships” to enter the league immediately out of high school.
Thus began the “prep-to-pro” era, although between 1975 and 1995 there were no players who took the conventional high school-to-NBA path selected in the draft. Kevin Garnett’s success after coming into the league in 1995, though, spawned a whole new generation of players who saw heading into the league right out of high school as a viable option, and they flooded the league until 2005.
At that time, the Players’ Union and commissioner David Stern hammered out a deal raising the minimum age of the players to 19, meaning that high schoolers were effectively ineligible. New commissioner Adam Silver would like to push the minimum age to 20, meaning it’s unlikely we’ll see prep-to-pro return any time soon. In honor of today’s birthday boy Garnett, we are Ranking the Best Prep-to-Pro Players in NBA History.Follow me on Twitter @dcsibor