Record Nine Preps Taken in NBA Draft

With the age minimum going into effect next year, Tuesday night's NBA Draft marked the end of the preps-to-pros trend for the foreseeable future. And though a record nine high schoolers were drafted, including Martell Webster at No. 6, this year's draft may be remembered more for the guys who fell to the second round.

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The modern-day preps-to-pros craze in the NBA began with a bang exactly a decade ago when Kevin Garnett was drafted No. 5 by the Minnesota Timberwolves.

It ended Tuesday night with a resounding thud.

Although the 2005 NBA Draft did see a record nine high school players drafted overall, just three of the nine went in the first round and received those coveted guaranteed contracts as a result.

Which means that more than a few preps received bad advice or bad information about their first-round prospects and must now scuffle to earn a non-guaranteed roster spot in the NBA or pay their dues in the NBA's Developmental League. Not exactly what guys like Monta Ellis, Louis Williams and Andray Blatche had in mind when they declared for the draft.

Although it has come under fire for being unfair to prep ballers, perhaps the NBA's new age minimum of 19 years old and one year removed from high school graduation — which will go into effect for next year's draft — came a year too late to save those guys from making possibly disastrous decisions.

But not all the preps who entered the draft ended the night wondering whether they had made the wrong decision. Even in what was supposed to be a down year for high school talent, three high schoolers went in the top 18 picks.

Seattle Prep (Seattle, Wash.) swingman Martell Webster was the first high schooler chosen, going No. 6 to Portland. This marks the third straight year the Blazers have taken a prep player in the first round, following Travis Outlaw in 2003 and Sebastian Telfair last year.

Next up was St. Joseph's (Metuchen, N.J.) center Andrew Bynum at No. 10 to the L.A. Lakers, who are hoping the 7-foot, 300-pounder can eventually form a more harmonious duo with Kobe Bryant than Shaq did. Bynum, who won't turn 18 until October, is the youngest player ever drafted in the NBA — a record that might never be broken thanks to the age minimum.

The third prep player taken in the first round and possibly the steal of the draft was Gulf Shores Academy (Houston, Texas) swingman Gerald Green, who went No. 18 to the Boston Celtics. This is also the third straight year the Celtics have gone with a high schooler, following Kendrick Perkins in 2003 and Al Jefferson last year.

Green was projected as a lottery pick and possible top-five selection, but when Portland passed on him for Webster at No. 6 he began to slide. But his misfortune could be Boston's fortune as Green, who is arguably the most athletic player and has as much potential as anyone in the draft, could form a dynamite future duo with Jefferson while learning under Paul Pierce.

After Green, however, the prep water ran dry until Skyline (Dallas, Texas) shooting guard C.J. Miles was drafted in the second round, No. 34 overall, by the Utah Jazz.

Miles hasn't signed with an agent and could still attend Texas next year, but the Jazz would own his rights for one year after his college eligibility expires. Meaning that even if he became the best player in the country, he'd still be stuck in that draft slot and Utah would own his rights.

After Miles, five more high schoolers were taken in the second round: IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.) forward Ricky Sanchez at No. 35 to Portland (and later traded to Denver); Lanier (Jackson, Miss.) guard Monta Ellis at No. 40 to Golden State; South Gwinnett (Snellville, Ga.) guard Louis Williams at No. 45 to Philadelphia; South Kent Prep (South Kent, Conn.) big man Andray Blatche at No. 49 to Washington; and Westchester (Los Angeles, Calif.) power forward Amir Johnson at No. 56 to Detroit.

Though Sanchez and Johnson were expected to be second-round picks, Ellis, Williams and Blatche had to be crushed at the end of the night. All three had dreams of going in the first round but now could end up in the D-League without a guaranteed contract.

The ultimate irony of the 2005 NBA Draft from the prep perspective is that while history will show it was a record-setting draft for high schoolers in the last year they were eligible, right now it is best seen as a cautionary tale.

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