Be True To Your School??

By Eric D. Graham, BASN Staff Reporter
Updated: June 12, 2010

NORTH CAROLINA (BASN) — Don’t listen to your guidance counselor, because it pays not to go to college these days.

For instance, both teams in the NBA Finals have at least two players on their team who bypassed college to go straight to the pros.

First, wearing the glorious Boston green is Kevin Garnett (fifth overall pick in 1995 NBA Draft by Minnesota) and Kendrick Perkins (27th overall in 2003), who both avoided the college classroom in order to make the big bucks in the NBA.

In Los Angeles, there is the greatest basketball player on the planet, Kobe Bryant (13th overall in 1996 by Charlotte) and the youngest player ever to play in a NBA game at 18 years old and six days, center Andrew Bynum (10th overall in 2005) from St. Joseph High in Metuchen, N.J.

Surprisingly, Perkins, Garnett, Bynum, and Bryant are all in another elite fraternity because all of them have been blessed with winning a NBA championship.

Bryant, of course, has exceeded all expectation without playing in the NCAA’s basketball tournament known as March Madness by winning four NBA Titles.

While Kobe is the poster child for skipping college, the No. 1 overall pick in 2004, Dwight Howard (Orlando) as well as his teammate three-point specialist Rashard Lewis (32nd overall in 1998 by Seattle) also took off their high school caps and gowns to play professional basketball in the NBA.

As Howard left high school and went straight to the pros down South, the Phoenix Suns Amare Stoudemire (ninth overall in 2002) went straight from high school to the pros out West.

But this report about high schoolers who are now playing in the NBA would be incomplete if I didn’t mention two-time NBA MVP LeBron James, the No. 1 overall pick by the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2003, even though they lost to the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference Semi-finals.

Shockingly, James is not the only player on the Cavaliers roster who has made the jump from high school to the NBA. James’ teammate Sebastian Telfair even though he didn’t play in the playoffs, did it in 2005 when he was the 13th overall pick for Portland.

Other notable players, who participated in the 2010 playoffs, who sidestepped college are the high-flying dunker Josh Smith of the Atlanta Hawks (17th overall in 2004), Jermaine O’Neal of the Miami Heat (17th overall in 1996 by Portland), Tyson Chandler of the Charlotte Bobcats (second overall in 2001 by the Clippers) and Milwaukee rookie Brandon Jennings (10th overall in 2009), who went overseas before entering the NBA draft.