Who Is the Last NBA Player to Go Straight to the League out of High School?

It has been 15 years since an 18-year-old player straight out of high school was drafted to the NBA. There have been many great NBA players who were drafted right out of high school. Players like Kevin Garnett, Kobe Bryant, and Tracy McGrady all had a lot of success in the league.

The last player who was drafted from high school at 18, was Amir Johnson. The Detroit Pistons selected him in the second round of the 2005 NBA draft.

Amir Johnson’s NBA career

Johnson did not play overseas or for any postgraduate school upon graduating from high school. A few players who were drafted recently fulfilled the requirements to enter the draft without attending college. In Johnson’s case, at the age of 18, he’s the last player of that age to be drafted.

Johnson was a highly-rated player out of high school. In 2005 he was named a McDonald’s All-American. Johnson committed to the University of Louisville but decided to skip college and enter the NBA draft. He heard his name called in the second round of the NBA draft as the Pistons agreed to select him with the 58th overall pick.

Johnson made his NBA debut during the 2005-06 season. He only played in three games and averaged 6.7 points during those three games. His first NBA basket came on a windmill dunk against the Minnesota Timberwolves on January 24, 2006. Johnson did not have much production during his time in Detroit.

After playing in Detroit for four years, he became a member of the Toronto Raptors. Playing in Toronto, Johnson saw his numbers improved, and he would become a key role player for the Raptors. During the 2013-14 season, he averaged 10.4 points per game, which was the most in his career. Johnson made himself known throughout the league during his career in Toronto. In 2015, he signed with the Boston Celtics and played two seasons in Boston. He would then sign with the Philadelphia 76ers, and that was the last team he played for.

Where is Amir Johnson now?

Amir Johnson NBA
Amir Johnson entered the 2005 NBA draft after his high school career was over. | Visual China Group via Getty Images/Visual China Group via Getty Images

The 2018-19 season was the last time Johnson played in the NBA. In February of 2019, Johnson announced that he would voluntarily play for the Delaware Blue Coats of the NBA G League because he was not getting any playing time with the 76ers.

As of now, Johnson is not playing in the G League or the NBA and has not made a decision if he would retire or not. He spent 14 seasons in the league, and his career average is 7.0 points, 5.4 rebounds, and 1.2 assists per game. Johnson made a big decision as a teenager to pursue an NBA career and not attend college.

When will the NBA change the rule regarding high school players?

After the 2005 draft, the NBA would put an eligibility rule in place. The rule stated that for a player to be eligible in the draft, they must be at least 19 years old, and at least one NBA season must have passed. There have been multiple discussions about the NBA going back to allowing players to enter the draft straight out of high school, but that decision has not been changed as of yet.

Now you are seeing players going straight to the G League from high school instead of going to college. Those top prospects going to college are just staying there for one year and then declaring for the draft. Or you’ll have these young athletes spending time overseas instead of playing in college. How long can the NBA hold out on not changing the rule back to what it used to be? That is a question that will continue to be brought up across the league.