What Percentage of High School Players Make it to the NBA?

Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant(L) and Chicag

While the numbers may vary, the percentage of high school players who play high level, Division I NCAA College Basketball is extremely low. Taking it a step further, the percentage of Division I NCAA College Basketball players who go on to be NBA draft picks is far, far lower.

This article focuses solely on men’s basketball, but it is important for all high school athletes and college athletes to understand that these numbers reflect every professional sport. While a high school star might go on to be the best player on his college team, it does not guarantee that they will be a first round pick by an NBA team; there is much more that goes into being a professional athlete.

Probability of Being Drafted

Male players are drafted into the National Basketball Association and female players are drafted into the Women's National Basketball Association. According to the National Association for Sport and Physical Education, college players from both men’s and women’s basketball have a very low probability of being drafted to play professional basketball.

  • For men, about three out of 10,000 male high school basketball players will be drafted into the NBA, or about .03 percent

For women, the numbers are similar:

  • One out of 5,000 players, or .02 percent, will be drafted into the WNBA

Longevity in the Sport

If you evaluate this statistic as information for your high school player, keep in mind a few other intriguing statistics:

  • Just 10.6 percent of the 2010-11 rosters include players who have just one year of experience
  • Players with four or fewer years of experience make up the largest part of the team rosters at 52.1 percent
  • Only 10.6 percent of players have more than four years of experience, which makes a long-term career in the NBA a long shot for most players
North Carolina State v Davidson

Plan for the Worst

If your high school player is drafted for the NBA at 19 years old or after one or two years of college as a student-athlete, he can still get a college education even without having any remaining eligibility to play hoops. An October 2009 article in "The New York Times" covered the return of many NBA players to college during the offseason.

Many players and coaches consider returning to college a smart move for a player. The rigors of professional sports and chance of basketball-ending injuries make a college or vocational education essential for a good career after the NBA.

Benefits of Team Sports

The good news is that team sports of almost any variety are very healthy for young kids and high schoolers, regardless of their desires to play college basketball or be in a league like the NFL or MLB.

Beyond the physical benefits, which can be significant given the spiraling statistics in childhood obesity levels, youth sports also provide significant social and emotional benefits. Youth players, regardless of gender, have stronger social development skills, moral development and are less likely to engage in gang behavior.