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Greatest NBA Players Drafted Straight Out of High School


Ever since Kevin Garnett was drafted right of high school in 1995, a lot of high school players skipped college to go straight to the NBA Draft. While high school players are generally risky picks for NBA teams because they are not tried and tested in the college ranks, there are those certain players who were so good in high school that teams just could not help but draft them. These players lived up to their hype when they came into the NBA.

Toronto Raptors v Detroit Pistons

  1. Josh Smith (PF)

Josh Smith was an interesting prospect coming out of high school. He already had an NBA body and was supremely athletic. He could run the floor and finish great at the basket for a man his size. Above all, he had a great passing ability for a big man. However, he never made good decisions when it comes to shot selection.


  1. Jermaine O’Neil (C)

Jermaine O’Neil came into the league when the Indiana Pacers were stacked and led by a veteran Reggie Miller. Jermaine was a great talent coming out of high school because he was already a grown big man even at a tender age. Above all, he was a defensive force in the paint.


  1. Tracy McGrady (SG/SF

Tracy McGrady did not immediately make an impact in the NBA because the Toronto Raptors, which already had a wingman in Vince Carter in their ranks, drafted him. Nevertheless, he immediately came into his own when he was traded to the Orlando Magic. He won Most Improved Player and a few scoring titles in Orlando.


  1. Daryl Dawkins (F)

Dawkins was the last NBA player to be drafted out of high school until Garnett was drafted in 1995. Dawkins played in the 70’s where everything was all about flair and entertainment. Indeed he was very entertaining, as he would dunk the basket in every opportunity he can.


  1. Amar’e Stoudemire (C/PF)

Amar’e was a very athletic big man coming out of high school. And, at 6’10”, he had the perfect size to be paired up with phenomenal passing point guard Steve Nash. He immediately made an impact in the NBA and was the other half of one of the best pick and roll combinations in NBA history.



  1. Dwight Howard (C)

Dwight Howard had great size and athleticism even at a tender age of 18 years old. He stands at 6’10”, had wide shoulders, a muscular physique, and could jump right out of the gym. His offensive game needed work at first but he became a rebounding and defensive force in the paint deep into his career.


  1. Moses Malone (C)

Moses Malone was the first player to be drafted right of high school. However, it was the ABA that drafted him. He later joined the NBA after a year when the ABA and the NBA merged. He immediately became a force in the NBA as one of the premier rebounders and inside scorers.


  1. Kevin Garnett (PF)

Kevin Garnett paved the way for today’s high school NBA stars. He was the first NBA to be drafted right of high school since Dawkins. While Garnett did not make an immediate impact in his rookie year, he did build a legendary career as he continued to improve. He is considered to be one of the best power forwards in NBA history.


  1. LeBron James (SF)

LeBron was an immediate phenom even back in high school. He was so good that his high school games were even televised. He did not disappoint when he came into the NBA, as he immediately became one of its best all-around players.


  1. Kobe Bryant (SG)

Kobe Bryant was drafted by Hornets and was traded to the Lakers. It was a lopsided trade because he became one of the best players in NBA history. He did not have an immediate impact in his rookie season but he worked on his game hard and became the youngest All-Star in NBA history. He is currently 3rd all time in the NBA’s career scoring leaders.