LeBron James did not play college basketball, and clearly he did not need to. He was an impact player in the NBA straight out of high school. The No. 1 pick in the 2003 draft, LeBron went on to win the 2004 Rookie of the Year award.
LeBron was one of the lucky top prospects who was able to declare for the NBA Draft straight from high school. Since 2006, draftees have been required to be at least 19 years of age and be one year removed from high school in order to be declared eligible.
The “prep-to-pro era,” which began with Kevin Garnett, ran from 1995-2005. A number of standout NBA players made the leap straight from high school—LBJ, Big Ticket, Kobe Bryant, Tracy McGrady, and Dwight Howard, among others.
As long as top prospects are forced to play college ball, shady practices will be associated with the recruiting process. A number of programs, including Louisville and Arizona, have recently come under fire for going to crazy and illegal lengths to lure top recruits. In light of those stories, the broken NCAA system is a talking point around the hoops world.
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