Jumping to the NBA

These players skipped college and joined an NBA franchise

For some time in the NBA's early stages, a player had to finish a four-year college to enter the draft and join one of the NBA franchises. It wasn't until Reggie Harding in 1962 that a player skipped college and went straight from high school into the world's toughest basketball league. It's no doubt a huge gamble with similar odds you get at casinos or their sister sites, but if you win, it pays off big. Since then, more athletes have followed Harding's example, some of whom became (and still are) some of the greatest players the NBA has ever seen. Let's take a look at the top ballers that skipped college to join an NBA franchise straight from high school.

Kevin Garnett

Kevin Garnett was the number five pick in the 1995 NBA draft where he was picked by the Minnesota Timberwolves. The 6 ft 11 in giant won the Rookie of the Year award one year later and got called 15 times into the NBA All-Star team. He is a four-time NBA rebounding champion, won the season MVP award in 2004, and crowned his career with the title back in 2008. During his career, Garnett scored over 26,000 points, surpassed 14,000 rebounds, and 5,000 assists.

Kobe Bryant

Lakers legend Koby Bryant is another superstar that chose the NBA over study books when he was drafted by the Charlotte Hornets back in 1996 and traded to the Los Angeles Lakers. For the next 20 years, Bryant would play for the same team and become one of the NBA's greatest players of all time. He won five championships, one season MVP, and two Finals MVP award. Kobe Bryant played 18 times for the NBA All-Star team, became scoring champion twice, and also won the slam dunk contest in 1997. During his career, Bryant scored over 33,000 points, which puts him third in the all-time leaders ranking.

LeBron James

Does LeBron James ring a bell? Of course, it does! James joined the Cleveland Cavaliers straight from St. Vincent-St. Mary High School back in 2003 and manifested himself as one of the greatest NBA players of all times. The power forward is a 3x NBA champion, 3x NBA finals MVP, 4x Most Valuable Player, 15, NBA All-Star, and the 2004 Rookie of the Year. With over 33,000 points, he currently ranks fourth in the all-time scorer's leaderboard, and his career is not over yet. He is expected to surpass Koby Bryant and, if he can keep up his level, might be able to take a shot at Karl Malone as well. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's 38,387 points are probably out of reach.

Dwight Howard

Last but not least, another NBA superstar that skipped college is Dwight Howard, who was drafted by the Orlando Magic back in 2014 and played Houston, Atlanta, Charlotte, and Washington during his career. He is still active and shoots hoops for the Los Angeles Lakers. The center is an 8x NBA All-Star, 2x NBA blocks leader, 5x, rebounding leader, 3x defensive player of the year. The one thing that's missing in his awards gallery is the championship title.

Other players have chosen to enter the NBA draft straight from college including Amar'e Stoudemire, Monta Ellis, Tyson Chandler, or Tracy McGrady, and you can expect other young athletes to follow in their footsteps. While it's a risk to skip college education and turn professional, for some, it's just the way to go.