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Tuck: Kobe Bryant Correct To Say College Not Needed For NBA Success

Kobe Bryant is correct when he recently said college is unnecessary for NBA success. He is also correct in saying his decision to skip college and turn pro out of high school wasn't a decision made on what was best for basketball, it was one made on what was best for him.

I dont really look at it from that perspective of what was good for the game of basketball, Kobe said when asked about his impact on the NBA as a prep-to-pro player. I think the reality is theres been a lot of players whove come out of high school. If you do the numbers and you look at the count, youll probably see players who came out of high school that were much more successful on average than players who went to college for a year or two or however long. It seems like the system really isnt teaching players anything, if you go to college. If you go to college, you play, you showcase, and you come to the pros. Well, thats always been the big argument, as a player you have to go to college, you have to develop your skills and so forth and so on, and then you come to the league. So, we kind of got sold on that dream a little bit. Fortunately, I didnt really listen much to it. Neither did KG. Neither did LeBron. I think that worked out pretty well for all three of us."

Im always a firm believer in us being able to make our own decisions, especially as it pertains to going out and working and having a job. You should be able to go out there and make your own choices.


Below is a list of all the players drafted directly out of high school from 1996-2005. And you'll see, it isn't the disaster some NBA teams and fans made it seem like. In fact, just the opposite. The rate of success is incredibly high.

The player, the year they were drafted, and the position in which they were selected.


Kobe Bryant 1996 1-13 

Kevin Garnett 1995 1-5 

LeBron James 2003 1-1 

Dwight Howard 2004 1-1 

Tracy McGrady 1997 1-9 

Amare Stoudemire 2002 1-9 

All-Stars and obviously very good players

Josh Smith 2004 1-17 

Jermaine O'Neal 1996 1-17 

Andrew Bynum 2005 1-10 

Rashard Lewis 1998 2-32 

Tyson Chandler 2001 1-2 

Monta Ellis 2005 2-40 

Al Jefferson 2004 1-15 

J.R. Smith 2004 1-18 

Al Harrington 1998 1-25 

Louis Williams 2005 2-45 

Starters and players who had long, productive careers, even if disappointing

Eddy Curry 2001 1-4 

Dorell Wright 2004 1-19 

DeShawn Stevenson 2000 1-23 

Kendrick Perkins 2003 1-27 

Kwame Brown 2001 1-1 

Darius Miles 2000 1-3 

Shaun Livingston 2004 1-4 

Martell Webster 2005 1-6 

DeSagana Diop 2001 1-8 

Sebastian Telfair 2004 1-13 

Travis Outlaw 2003 1-23 

C.J. Miles 2005 2-34 

Andray Blatche 2005 2-49 

Amir Johnson 2005 2-56 

Jonathan Bender 1999 1-5 

Gerald Green 2005 1-18 

The misses

Robert Swift 2004 1-12 

Leon Smith 1999 1-25 

Ndudi Ebi 2003 1-26 

Korleone Young 1998 2-40 

James Lang 2003 2-48 

Ricky Sanchez 2005 2-35 

Ousmane Cisse 2001 2-46 



6 of the 39 became superstars and 5 of them are HOF players. Only 7 were total busts, but 4 of those were second round picks. Think of all the other first rounders during that 10 year span that never panned out and made it to a second contract. 32/39 guys were players in the league contributing somewhere. Certainly some of the players who had long careers could still qualify as busts, but that doesn't make them any different than the college players taken in similar spots and not producing the desired results for their draft slot. The list doesn't even include players like Moses Malone, Darryl Dawkins, and Shawn Kemp who never went to college and were ahead of the time the preps to pros trend began.

Instead of making a farce out of college, players should be able to make their own adult decisions on their job future. NBA teams risk isn't as great as it is made out to be. They just have to be willing to practice patience as these players grow. There is the NBDL now to help out with that process. I am, and have always been for players to decide when they are ready. The game of basketball was never hurt by high schoolers turning pro and wouldn't be if the league shifted back to that.



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