Three years ago, there were only high-major, blue-blood programs competing for the best high school talent in the country. Over the past summer and this high school season, NBA scouts and executives have been allowed to attend a record number of AAU and high events. Soon a top player will be choosing between Duke, Kentucky, Kansas or going straight to the NBA – something that hasn’t been an option since 2005.
In early September, a rumor began circulating that the NBA and National Basketball Players Association were expected to change the draft eligibility age from 19 to 18, potentially paving the way for high school students to go straight to the NBA and forgo the gap year in college. G League Ignite or Abroad. The earliest time frame would be for the 2024 NBA Draft.
“It’s only a matter of time before they change the rule,” an NBA scout told Yahoo Sports. “I don’t know if it will be as soon as the 2024 Draft, which was originally reported, but the fact that we are all able to attend more high school events and scout high-level players at a younger age certainly makes it . coming.”
The McDonald’s All-American Game and Nike Hoop Summit used to be the first in-person encounter with NBA scouts and executives before the player’s draft eligibility just over a year later. Both games highlight the nation’s top senior basketball players, and NBA personnel line up in the gym for a handful of practices and scrimmages ahead of the all-star game.
“This year is different because we’ve seen this group of seniors several times and it’s only at the end of January,” another NBA scout told Yahoo Sports. “It’s still a great benchmark for us and good to see the growth in some players.”
NBA scouts were able to attend several high school and AAU events for the first time, including the Pangos All-American Camp, Adidas 3SSB Circuit, Tarkanian Classic, and most recently the Hoophall Classic two weekends ago. They also competed in the NBPA Top 100 Camp and Nike’s Peach Jam for two years.
Last summer, there were more NBA scouts at a 15-under game between the top two sophomores, Cameron Boozer and Cooper Flagg, than college coaches.
“This is the first time I’ve scouted a player with a mouth full of braces,” an NBA scout told Yahoo Sports after watching Flagg and Boozer at Peach Jam. “They are young and there is a lot of time for both [Flagg and Boozer]but there’s a lot of fun in their game.”
Since last summer, Scouts Boozer and Flagg have each been able to see two more at the USA Basketball minicamp in October and both played at the Hoophall Classic with their high school teams, earning first team honors.
“I just want to show the NBA scouts my versatility and that I have an inside-out game,” Boozer told Yahoo Sports. “If I keep improving myself and keep working on becoming the best version of myself, it will show through on the track.”
The NBA is already adjusting to the potential removal of the one-time rule, hiring former elementary and high school analysts and insiders already wired deep in the space. The Oklahoma City Thunder added former Rivals.com national recruiting analyst Corey Evans to their scouting team two years ago. Shortly thereafter, the Minnesota Timberwolves announced the addition of Josh Gershon, a former recruiting analyst for 247 Sports.
There’s a lot of preparation going on behind the scenes that signal the end of the one-time era, but no official announcement of progress or timeline.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said he was hopeful of a change to the current 19-year-old rule, which requires players to be a year away from high school, when he addressed the media in July. Speaking at his annual press conference at the end of league board meetings, Silver said: “I think there’s an opportunity [to change it].”
“Are [based on] bigger conversations than just whether we go from 19 to 18 but I stand firm if I balance all these different considerations I think that’s the right thing to do and I’m hopeful that that’s a change we’re in this next collective bargaining cycle, which will take place over the next few years,” he said.
The change seems unlikely in 2024 with all the details to be worked out. Could it possibly happen in 2025 (the last grade of Flagg and Boozer’s high school) or in 2026? The high school freshman class is showing promising signs with AJ Dybantsa and Tyran Stokes already garnering attention, so the 2026 NBA draft could be a monster draft if the one-time rule were removed by then.
Until that date is announced and perpetuated, NBA scouts will continue to pack more high school gymnasiums or sit alongside college coaches at AAU tournaments, scouting the next wave of NBA talent and preparing for the next season. end of the one-and-done era.