Magazine article New York Times Upfront

Should High School Players Be Eligible for the N.B.A. Draft? the National Basketball Association Requires Draft Picks to Be at Least 19 and a Year out of High School

Magazine article New York Times Upfront

Should High School Players Be Eligible for the N.B.A. Draft? the National Basketball Association Requires Draft Picks to Be at Least 19 and a Year out of High School

Article excerpt

YES

There are disaster stories of players entering the N.B.A. draft from high school and failing spectacularly. But as tragic as these stories are, they are the exception.

A study by Michael McCann, a professor at Vermont Law School who is an expert on sports and Legal issues, found that of the 21 high school players who declared for the draft from 1975 to 2001, four became superstars--Kevin Garnett, Kobe Bryant, Jermaine O'Neal, and Tracy McGrady--and only four never made it to the N.B.A.

The results were similar with those drafted from the classes of 2002 through 2005, when the ban was put in place: Of the 26 players drafted, 20 were still playing through Last season and three have become superstars: Amar'e Stoudemire, Dwight Howard, and LeBron James.

The common argument that players drafted straight from high school are more prone to get into trouble because of their age has also proved wrong. According to a 2005 study by McCann, more than half of the 84 pro players recently arrested had spent four years on a university campus; only 4 percent of them never went to college (even though players without any college experience made up 8 percent of the league population).

As for high school students not being ready for pro ball, Jon Nichols of Basketball-Statistics.com found that from 1996 to 2006 players drafted out of high school had better efficiency ratings--a measure of overall, play based on a player's statistics--during their rookie seasons than players drafted as college juniors and seniors.

One thing is clear: Raising the minimum age to 19 hasn't helped the players. Superstars may go to college for a year, but for most it has nothing to do with getting an education.

--BUZZ BISSINDER, AUTHOR, FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS

NO

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