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Mike Sorensen: What happened to Taj McDavid?

SHARE Mike Sorensen: What happened to Taj McDavid?

When the NBA draft is held Thursday, there won't be any high school players among the draftees.

Thank goodness.

The NBA made a wise move two years ago when it prohibited high school players from being eligible for the annual draft.

Some folks still argue it's not fair to exclude someone who's capable of playing in the NBA just because of their age. They say, what about Kobe Bryant, LeBron James and Kevin Garnett?

There are no doubt several players who have gone straight from high school to the NBA and turned out to be very successful. But most do not become stars.

For every Kobe Bryant there's a Taj McDavid.

For every LeBron James there's a Korleone Young.

For every Kevin Garnett, there's a Ousmane Cisse.

McDavid was a South Carolina prep who declared for the draft in 1996 the same year as Bryant but not only never made the NBA, never even signed any sort of pro


Young was the No. 40 pick in 1998 but has since played for six teams including the Richmond Rhythm, Rockford Lightning and the Canberra Cannons.

Cisse was the No. 46 in 2001 but has since played in NBDL, USBL and the Harlem Globetrotters.

The practice of taking athletes right out of high school essentially began right here in Utah. In 1974, future Hall-of-Famer Moses Malone, who had already signed a letter of intent to play for Maryland, was snatched by the Utah Stars of the old ABA.

The following year, Darryl Dawkins, who later played briefly for the Utah Jazz, signed right out of high school and a year later Bill Willoughby was drafted out of high school. Then the NBA wised up and went nearly 20 years without dipping into the high school ranks before Garnett was taken by Minnesota with the No. 5 pick in 1995.

Bryant came out the next year, followed by Tracy McGrady in 1997.

By 2001 things were getting out of control when three of the first four picks were high school players. None of the three, Kwame Brown, Tyson Chandler or Eddy Curry, has become a star, nor has the No. 8 pick that year, DaSagana Diop, another high schooler.

When eight prep players were taken in both the 2004 and 2005 drafts, the NBA decided to take action and prohibit the drafting of players until they are a year out of high school.

I'm aware of the study by a Mississippi professor, who said high school players have an 80 percent chance of succeeding. Perhaps my idea of success is different. Just because a player earns a million dollars before age 21 doesn't make him a success. What is he going to do for the rest of his life after being cut after a handful of games in the NBA?

As I look at the list of the 45 players who have left high school to declare for the NBA Draft since 1995, I can see just just six players that I would classify as stars — Bryant, Garnett, James, Tracy McGrady, Amare Stoudamire and Dwight Howard. Most are journeymen types, such are former Jazz prep draftee DeShawn Stevenson.

The problem I see is most 18-year-olds are incapable of making proper decisions in regard to their long-term futures and can be easily influenced by the almighty dollar or money-grubbing agents.

Why not go to college for at least a year? Some players will find they enjoy it and stay longer, while others will discover they aren't ready for the NBA for another year or two. Those who don't go pro will hopefully get a degree that will help them get a job long after basketball is over.

Perhaps the best example for not allowing high school players to declare for the draft is Brandon Roy.

Not many people know that Roy declared for the NBA Draft in 2002 after starring for Garfield High School in Seattle, before withdrawing his name. That was the year Amare Stoudamire was the only high school player drafted while three declared prep players weren't.

Roy ended up playing four years at Washington, getting drafted No. 6 and earning rookie of the year honors. As a freshman at Washington he didn't start and only averaged 6.1 points per game. He really didn't blossom until his senior season

But what if he had decided not to remove his name from the draft?

He would have ended up like DeAngelo Collins, Lenny Cooke and Giedrius Rinkevicius.

They're the three high school players who declared for the draft in 2002 but were never drafted.

And never heard from again.

E-mail: sor@desnews.com