When Spencer Haywood sued the National Basketball Association in 1971, he did not know what he was getting himself into. He sued The NBA on the grounds that not letting him play basketball before his college graduation denied him the right to earn a living. Haywood won the Supreme Court case seven to two, starting a thirty-one year controversy (Mattura 1). Now in 2002, high school athletes are trying to break through new regulations. High school juniors Lebron James of Ohio and Kendrick Perkins of Texas are trying to enter the 2002 NBA draft in June.
Under current ruling, a high school student may not be selected by a team until his high school class graduates (Mattura 2). This year, there are three high school players who have declared for this year's draft. DeAngelo Collins of Inglewood, California is expected to perform preeminent to the other two entrees Amare Stoudamire of Cypress Creek, Florida and Lenny Cooke of New York, New York. Collins is a McDonalds All -American with a criminal record. He served six months for felony assault. DeAngelo Collins is expected to be drafted in late in the first round or early in the second round.
Amare Stoudamire will be a lottery pick and Lenny Cooke is likely to go in the second round (Anonymous 3). Young men like Cooke and Collins are affecting the National Collegiate Athletic Association. The NCAA's performance has declined in the past years. Team's great leaders are usually gone by their junior year and the great high school seniors skip college basketball entirely. "The extraction of these kids makes good teams unable to be great," says Big East Commissioner Mike Tranghese (Axelrod 1, 2).
Cooke, Collins, and Stoudamire look at Kobe Bryant, Kevin Garnett, and Tracey McGrady, today's NBA stars that came out of high school, as role models. These stars needed role models too. They had Moses Malone, the trailblazer for going to the NBA after high school. Before Malone, the thought of going to the NBA for high school would have been laughed at.
After dominating in the high school scene, Moses Malone decided to attend the University of Maryland. The day he was to begin classes at Maryland, Moses signed with The Utah Stars. The Utah Stars were a dominating team of the now dead ABA, another professional basketball league (Harris 1, 2). Malone, now a hall of famer, put twenty-one quality years into professional basketball.
In 1976 the ABA Utah Stars merged with The NBA Houston Rockets landing Malone in the NBA. Here, Moses Malone would earn himself three leagues Most Valuable Player awards. In 1983 Malone led his team, the Philadelphia 76 ers, to a NBA championship (Harris 3). Moses Malone left Kevin Garnett big shoes to fill.
Twenty years later, Garnett was the first person to go to the NBA after high school since Malone twenty years earlier. Garnett went from a Chicago high school to the Minnesota Timberwolves. Struggling his first year in the NBA, Garnett grew into a two time first team All-NBA selection. Consistently leading his team to the playoffs, Garnett is a 20 point, 10 rebound player (Anonymous 1) One year after Garnett, Kobe Bryant was drafted in 1996.
Kobe did not start until his third season in the NBA. Bryant has teamed up with Shaquille O'Neal to lead his team to two NBA championships. Kobe Bryant is a complete player at the age of 23. He is the poster boy for leaving high school early (Anonymous 1).
Not everyone has life in the league as easy as Bryant and Garnett. Some people get off to slower starts. One such person is Tracey McGrady. McGrady, who has been in the NBA since 1997, struggled his first three years. He was drafted to the Toronto Raptors where his cousin, Vince Carter, was the star of the show. McGrady was not used to not getting all of the attention on the court.
In fact, Tracey McGrady received little attention in Toronto. His playing time was limited to single minutes (Anonymous 1). In 1999 Tracy McGrady was traded to the Orlando Magic. Still, he sat on the bench there playing as the Magic's sixth man. When Grant Hill, the starter in front of McGrady injured his ankle, the Magic looked to McGrady to step up. He did.
McGrady went on to 25. 6 points per game. He was also nominated to be on the first team All-NBA team this season (Anonymous 1). McGrady, Garnett, and Bryant are rare gems. Not very often will NBA All-Stars come right out of high school. Picking high school players in the draft can be risky.
One cannot select a player simply because he is coming out of high school. "These high school kids, all of whom are talented. And all of them are projected as the best big men coming along. But you don't know. There is risk involved." Said Orlando Magic senior vice president Pat Williams (Nielson 1). There are many players that have come out of high school not shooting any lights out.
Some of these players include Jermaine O'Neal of the Indiana Pacers, and Ras hard Lewis of the Seattle Supersonics. Both players are average. O'Neal averages 19 points a game where Lewis is averaging 16. 8. While both of these players have turned out mediocre, some would not consider them worth the risk of drafting them out of high school (Anonymous 1, 2). There are plenty of people that today's draft contenders need to keep in mind.
These people have lost a lot from skipping college and entering the NBA draft. All of them are very talented athletes. Some are holding on to the dream of one day playing in the league. Taj McDavid entered the NBA draft in 1996. He ignored experts that told him not to enter the draft. He was told he would do better after a year or two in college.
After not being selected in the draft, McDavid was cornered. He had already rejected the few college offers he was given. McDavid enrolled into community college. There he played intramural basketball with fellow classmates where they refered to him as "Red." When talking about McDavid one classmate said, " I didn't think Red stood out all that much, even against us." Taj McDavid is currently working at Foot Action (Anonymous 2) (Berk ow 2). The story of Ellis Richardson is a story of stupidity. Richardson was a poor basketball player.
He had rotten basketball skills accompanied by his rotten decision making. Richardson's basketball skills were poor at best. He lacked basic fundamentals, Richardson was a show-off. After being mocked for entering the draft, Richardson turned to a life of crime. Currently, Richardson is playing basketball in a Los Angeles jail (Jiloty 2). When Lenny Cooke, DeAngelo Collins, and Amare Stoudamire make their upcoming decision, they have many people in the past to look at.
All hoping to be the next Kobe Bryant, Lenny Cooke, DeAngelo Collins, and Amare Stoudamire might be trying to achieve the unattainable. Hopefully they can do better than Ellis Richardson and Taj McDavid. They took a big risk by entering the draft but hopefully they made the right decision.