NBA teams allowed high school players to be scouted at key events

NBA teams allowed high school players to be scouted at key events

The NBA is loosening rules on scouting high school players, according to a memo to teams obtained by ESPN.

Beginning in mid-December, NBA teams will be able to attend several key high school events featuring many of America’s top non-draft-eligible players, including dozens of future NBA players. The NBA’s age limit remains in place, meaning US-based players who want to be selected in the NBA draft must be one year removed from high school graduation and meet 19 years old in the calendar year of the draft, with no plans to remove this rule. expected soon

The NBA is responding to a desire that teams’ front offices have long had for greater access to evaluate elite prospects before they enter college.

Several highly regarded prospects in recent years, including five-star recruits Shaedon Sharpe, Mitchell Robinson i Darius Bazley — have opted to sit out the season before becoming draft-eligible, forcing teams to make tough decisions on draft night without the benefit of scouting them beforehand. Other prospects, like eventual top five picks James Wiseman i Darius Garland, were injured early in their college seasons, before being fully evaluated by teams. Scouts want to evaluate these types of players early in their careers, to avoid being caught flat-footed.

The three events now certified for scout attendance are the Tarkanian Classic in Las Vegas in mid-December; the Spalding HoopHall Classic in Springfield, Mass., in mid-January; and the Geico Nationals in Fort Myers, Florida in late March.

Geico and HoopHall are arguably the two main events on the high school calendar to evaluate a large number of future NBA players in highly competitive environments, while the Tarkanian Classic also features significant talent and is held at a convenient time of the year where the NBA teams are already there. in Las Vegas for the G League Showcase.

Over the past decade, the NBA has gradually loosened its no-contact rules, which previously prohibited teams from evaluating any high school players, dating back to David Stern’s insistence on keeping NBA scouts out of gyms from the high school.

“It sends the wrong message for them to be there,” Stern said in 2005. “Where does it stop?”

Events such as the McDonald’s All American Game, the Jordan Brand Classic, USA Basketball Select Camps and the Nike EYBL Peach Jam have been allowed, but never before have NBA executives been allowed to watch two high school teams s ‘face each other. This is now changing.

The move also aims to address a loophole opened by the NBA this fall that allows scouts nearly unlimited access to the Overtime Elite, which consists primarily of high school-aged players; creating a competitive advantage that could potentially be used to recruit elite prospects. Until now, OTE and its six-team league, as well as the G League Ignite and NBA academies, were the only platforms where high school-aged players could showcase themselves in front of NBA personnel, creating an inconsistency that some considered favorable treatment.

The league doesn’t seem close to doing away with the no-contact rule entirely at this stage and allowing teams to pursue any high school-aged player as they see fit, not for ethical reasons but for cost management concerns. NBA front offices are already engaged in an arms race to hire scouts and gather data to evaluate the various potential paths that exist to reach the NBA; including college basketball, G League Ignite, OTE and overseas leagues. Opening thousands of high school gyms for NBA evaluations would put significant pressure on teams to have a presence at every high school event, which would be costly and time-consuming.

As for the potential elimination of the age limit rule, which states that players must be one year removed from high school graduation and turn 19 in the calendar year of the draft, there has been no no progress at this stage. It’s something that comes down to negotiations with representatives of the National Basketball Players Association as part of the collective bargaining agreement that expires in 2024.

There are still significant hurdles that will need to be reconciled to eliminate the rule, and this issue is just one of many major issues that the NBPA and NBA will have to agree on during the upcoming labor talks.

Adam Silver, however, is on record as being adamant that changing the age limit is “the right thing to do” last July, pointing to “social changes” and saying he “hopes that’s a change we’re going to make in this next one”. collective bargaining cycle, which will take place over the next two years.”

Jonathan Givony is an NBA draft expert and the founder and co-owner of, a private analysis and research service used by NBA, NCAA and international teams.

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