The one-and-done era has forced all of the top high school basketball prospects to go to college for at least one season (unless they take the Brandon Jennings route and play overseas), but that has only been the case since 2005. If that was the case before then, where would some of the great players who went straight from high school to the NBA have gone to college? Here are the schools where eight former All-Stars said they would have gone to.
Kevin Garnett - Michigan Wolverines (1995)
Garnett wasn't the first high schooler to go pro, but he did start the trend that emerged in the late 1990's and early 2000's. He was deciding between Michigan and Maryland, but ultimately chose to enter the NBA Draft after not having the ACT scores he needed to get into a D-I school.
However, if he did, Sonny Vaccaro - a sports marketing executive for Nike and Adidas and founder of ABCD Basketball Camp - told Bleacher Report’s Howard Beck that Garnett was headed to Michigan.
“He may or may not admit to this, but he was going to go to Michigan,” Vaccaro said. “The Fab Five guys, that whole era, Juwan Howard being from Chicago—I would’ve bet a million dollars that’s what he was going to do.”
Kobe Bryant - Duke Blue Devils (1996)
Kobe was leaning towards going to the NBA during his senior year in high school more than the other players on this list (with the exception of LeBron James), but Mike Krzyzewski was able to get him to seriously consider going to Duke. Bryant and Coach K kept a close relationship ever since, something that really came to light during Krzyzewski's time as head coach of Team USA.
Jermaine O'Neal - South Carolina Gamecocks (1996)
O'Neal, a Columbia native, had actually committed to South Carolina when he made the decision to skip college and go straight to the NBA. The Gamecocks won the SEC and were a No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament without him that year, but lost to No. 15 seed Coppin State in the first round. That likely wouldn't have been the case with O'Neal, who played sparingly in his first year with the Blazers before becoming a star with the Pacers.
Tracy McGrady - Kentucky Wildcats (1997)
McGrady has never tried to hide that he would've gone to a Kentucky team that ended up winning the national championship that year, but the NBA was always option No. 1 for him. If he would've gone to Lexington, that team would have been one of the best in college basketball history.
Tyson Chandler - UCLA Bruins (2001)
Chandler was part of the 2001 draft in which three of the top four picks (Kwame Brown, Eddy Curry) were kids who came straight from high school, and it became clear during the last half of his senior year that's where he was headed. However, Chandler - a Hanford, California native - said he would have stayed in-state and gone to UCLA.
Amar'e Stoudemire - Memphis Tigers (2002)
Stoudemire was supposed to be part of a package deal at Memphis with Dajuan Wagner and Qyntel Woods, both of whom played in the NBA as well. Wagner had just finished up his freshman season at Memphis, Woods would transfer in from community college and Stoudemire would commit. However, John Calipari - who was two years into his tenure at Memphis - pulled Wagner's scholarship to force him to enter the NBA Draft because he didn't think Wagner should pass up the money he would receive as a first-round pick.
Wagner ended up getting selected with the No. 6 overall pick, but injuries and health problems limited him to just four seasons in the league. Calipari's decision also ended the chances to the trio playing together in Memphis, and Stoudemire decided to go pro instead.
LeBron James - Ohio State Buckeyes (2003)
Let's be real - there was no chance LeBron James was going to college. However, he is very proud of his Ohio State fandom and would've suited up for the Buckeyes in the common era. They even gave him his own locker in their new locker room and presented him with an Ohio State jersey, as you see above. The four other starters on his high school team all accepted scholarships to play at Akron.
Dwight Howard - North Carolina Tar Heels (2004)
Howard's college decision would have come down to UNC, Duke and Georgia Tech, but the Atlanta native admitted he likely would have joined Raymond Felton, Marvin Williams and others on the Tar Heels' 2005 national championship team. Instead, he went to the NBA and became the No. 1 overall pick.Back to the NCAA Newsfeed