How Have High School Basketball #1 Recruits Fared

A look back at the #1 high school basketball recruits since 2003.

  • 5 #1 recruits since 2002 did not go to college
  • 6 #1 recruits were also drafted #1 
  • Most represented colleges – 2 recruits played for Duke, 2 for Kentucky, 2 for Kansas
  • Most represented NBA teams – 2 Lakers (Anthony Davis, Lebron James), 2 Rockets (Gerald Green, Eric Gordon), 2 Kings (Marvin Bagley, Harrison Barnes),
  • 2 dunk contest champions (Dwight Howard, Gerald Green)

2018 – RJ Barrett

Despite all the hype and hoopla that surrounded Barrett’s Duke teammate Zion Williamson, it’s hard to remember that Zion was ranked 7th by 247Sports. Zion was the third best Duke prospect out of high school, behind his teammates RJ Barrett (1) and Cam Reddish (3). 

Barrett was the #3 pick in the 2019 NBA draft to the Knicks, two spots behind his Duke teammate Zion Williamson went #1.

2017 – Marvin Bagley

After one year at Duke, where he averaged 21 ppg, 11 rpg, Bagley was the #2 pick in the 2018 NBA Draft to the Kings. Bagley was named a consensus First Team All-American and was named ACC Player of the Year

Bagley averaged 14.9 ppg, 7.6 rpg for the Kings in 62 games.

2016 – Josh Jackson 

Jackson left Kansas after one year and was drafted #4 by the Suns in 2017

#3 pick in 2017 NBA draft to Suns. Jackson’s tenure in Phoenix was highlighted by inconsistency on the court and trouble off of it. After two years with the Suns, he was recently traded to the Memphis Grizzlies.

2015 – Ben Simmons 

Ben Simmons dominated his one college season at LSU, averaging 19.2 ppg, 11.8 rpg, and 4.8 apg for a really bad Tigers team that missed the NCAA Tournament.

76ers drafted him #1 in 2016 and he missed his entire rookie season but has made up for lost time averaging 16.4 ppg, 8.5 rpg, 7.9 apg in two seasons and is on the verge of signing a max contract this summer to stay in Philadelphia long term. Simmons has yet to his a three pointer in his career.

2014 – Emmanuel Mudiay 

Mudiay skipped college, but did so after the straight from high school and age limit rules were set. After a year in China, he was drafted 7th by the Nuggets in 2015.

2013 – Andrew Wiggins 

Cavs drafted Wiggins #1 in 2014, but he was traded later that summer before ever playing a game in Cleveland. He was traded to Minnesota as part of a package for Kevin Love. Wiggins has spent his whole career with the Wolves and has been largely been considered an underwhelming disappointment.

2012 – Nerlens Noel 

Noel was on track to be the #1 pick in the 2013 NBA draft, but a horrific knee injury cut his Kentucky career short and he ended up falling to 7 to the Pelicans, who traded him to the 76ers as part of the launch of “the process” (they traded Jrue Holiday for Noel).

2011 – Anthony Davis 

In this era of one-and-done, Anthony Davis is one of the two most successful players to win a National Championship in his lone college season and make an NBA All Star team (Carmelo Anthony being the other). Other non one-and-done active players to win a college basketball championship and All Star game are Joakim Noah, Al Horford and Kemba Walker.

Davis is ironically on his way out the door as the Pelicans usher in a new era with Zion.

2010 – Harrison Barnes 

Harrison Barnes is the only player on this list to stay in college more than one season. With North Carolina, he lost both years in the Elite 8 and averaged 16 ppg in two seasons.

In 2012 he was the #7 pick to the Warriors, where he spent 7 seasons, won an NBA Championship in 2015 and was part of the 73-win tea in 2016. Following that year, the Warriors acquired Kevin Durant and Barnes signed a max deal with the Mavericks. He was traded to the Kings last February and signed $100 million contract this summer to remain in Sacramento long term.

2009 – Derrick Favors

Favors led Georgia Tech to the NCAA Tournament in 2010 and a first round victory. That’s the last time the Jackets made the tourney.

Favors was the #3 pick in the 2010 NBA draft and played 56 games for the New Jersey Nets, before being dealt to the Jazz as part of a package for Deron Williams. Favors has had a really solid career, spending 9 seasons in Utah, before being traded to New Orleans this summer. He averaged 11.6 ppg and 7.2 rpg. While never the best player on the floor, he has always been consistent and plays a valuable role.

2008 – Brandon Jennings 

Jennings is the only player on this list who skipped college at a time he was not eligible for the draft. This was the start of the one-and-done college era and Jennings had initially committed to Arizona, but instead opted to play professionally in Italy. He averaged 7.6 points, 1.6 rebounds, 1.6 assists, and 1.2 steals in 19.6 minutes per game.

Jennings was the 10th pick in the 2009 NBA draft by the Bucks. His career scoring average is 14 ppg, but since the start of the 2015 season, it has dropped to 6.4 ppg.

2007 – Eric Gordon 

Gordon was a huge star in his one season at Indiana, after committing as “Mr Basketball” in the state of Indiana in 2006. He played 34 mpg, scoring 20.9 ppg, however the Hoosiers lost in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

In 2008, the Clippers drafted Gordon 7th overall and a few years later traded him to New Orleans as part of a package of assets for Chris Paul. He has been with the Rockets since 2016, and won NBA’s Sixth Man Award in 2017.

2006 – Greg Oden 

Oden’s promising career was doomed by injuries. It was also doomed by the fact that Kevin Durant was the #2 pick after him.

2005 – Gerald Green 

Green is one of the final “straight from high school” prospects and did not attend college. He was the 18th pick in the 2005 NBA draft to the Celtics.

He has had a roller coaster career, playing for 8 different teams (Celtics, Suns, Rockets, Heat, Pacers, Mavs, Nets, Wolves)

2004 – Dwight Howard

It sure has been a weird career for Dwight Howard. He spent the first 8 seasons of his career in Orlando and averaged 18 ppg and 13 rpg, while being considered the top center in the game. He helped lead the Magic to the NBA Finals in 2009, which is Hall of Fame worthy on it’s own.

In the 7 seasons since forcing his way out of Orlando, he has played for 5 different teams – Lakers (1 year), Rockets (3 years), Hawks (1), Hornets (1), Wizards (9 games).

2003 – Lebron James

James is one of the very few athletes in all of sports who not only matched the ridiculous amount of hype surrounding him, but has clearly surpassed him. He has been to 9 NBA Finals (3-6) and is one of the all-time greatest players in NBA history.

Follow me on twitter @msschneid and instagram @mikedropsports for more.

Mike is a member of the FWAA (Football Writers Association of America) and an alum of the University of Cincinnati.

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