In 1962, the Detroit Pistons selected Reggie Harding in the fourth round of the NBA Draft. However, Harding had to play in the minor leagues for a year before he could play for the Pistons. That’s because the NBA would not let players into the league until one year after graduating from high school. Since Harding never went to college, he had to wait and missed out on an extra year in the NBA.
Then, in 1971 the Supreme Court case of Haywood v. National Basketball Association determined that players could be allowed to enter the NBA straight out of high school if they could show evidence that they didn’t have the means to attend college. In 1974, Moses Malone became the first player in modern professional basketball to go from high school to the bigs as he signed with the ABA’s Utah Stars. Daryl Dawkins and Bill Willoughby followed suit a year later. Over the years 42 players were drafted straight from high school into the NBA.
Today the NBA no longer lets players into the NBA straight from high school. As it was in the 60s, players need to be out of high school for at least a year before becoming eligible for the NBA draft. This has created some controversy as certain people argue that some players who play one year of college and then leave for the NBA like Derrick Rose, Anthony Davis and John Wall have no desire to be in college in the first place. Others argue that people who skip college are not as mature as those who attend, even for as little as a year.
Teenagers can still get into the NBA if they are young enough after finishing one year of college or, in the case of Brandon Jennings, simply one year removed from high school. Jennings played in Italy instead of college for a year before being drafted in 2010.
Fortunate teenagers who are drafted in the NBA can start off their lives making loads of money. This list features the richest teenagers to ever play in the NBA. Each player is limited to being on the list only once; some played as teenagers for two years.
10. Kobe Bryant – 1996-97 – Age 18 – $1.167 Million
Kobe Bryant was drafted out of high school by the Charlotte Hornets in 1996 but was traded to the Los Angeles Lakers soon after. Since he was seventeen when he was drafted his parent had to cosign his contract. His first deal in the NBA paid him $1.167 million per year. Today he’s the highest-paid player in the NBA making $30.4 million in 2013-14. It’s a good total for a five-time NBA champion who has scored more than 31,000 points in his career.