The Percentage Of High School Basketball Players Who Make It To The NBA

Percentage Of High School Basketball Players Who Make It To The NBA

Thousands of high school basketball players compete every year. But only a tiny percentage make their dream of playing in the NBA a reality. 

What percentage of high school basketball players make it to the NBA?

Approximately 0.01 percent of high school basketball players will make it to play in the NBA. There are roughly 5,000 D1 college basketball players, and of those 5,000, only 60 get drafted each year. There are over 500,000 male and 400,000 female high school basketball players. 

It’s a harsh reality because most high school athletes enter their seasons believing they will at least receive a scholarship to play in college and keep their dream alive. But the truth is, this won’t happen for most students. 

We have gathered data on high school basketball players playing on an NBA team below.

What Percentage Of High School Basketball Players Make It To The NBA?

The answer is shockingly low; less than 1% of high school basketball players will play professional basketball and make it to the National Basketball Association (NBA). 

Less than one will eventually be drafted or signed by an NBA franchise out of every 100 high school athletes who play competitively within their respective state or province.

However, the actual number is much lower when we dive deeper and do the math. There are only 450 players on NBA rosters at once. And the number slightly increases when factoring in two-way G-League players. 

In comparison, over 500,000 male high school basketball players are in the United States. This the average high school player has a 1 in 1,920 chance to become an NBA basketball player. 

What percentage of high school basketball players make it to the NBA

It’s important to note that this doesn’t just include those playing varsity or college-level ball – any player currently enrolled in a high school with an eligible athletic program fit for the competition can count as part of this statistic. 

One significant disadvantage for high school players in the United States is the volume of foreign players who occupy roster spots in the NBA. About 30% of the players in the NBA are international players. 

What Percentage Of High School Basketball Players Play NCAA Division I?

It’s estimated that between 1-4% of high school male basketball players will play for an NCAA program. To play Division I, the odds are around 1%. The chances increase slightly when factoring in Division II and Division III. 

Today, there are 358 Division I basketball teams. At least 4,000 Division I college basketball players play basketball on a scholarship, and each team has 2-4 walk-on players. Each college team typically gets 12-15 scholarship players per year. 

Playing Division I is usually the first major step a high school basketball player must make before reaching the NBA. It’s possible to take a different path, but this is usually only available for top-rated players who prefer to skip playing a year in college. 

Based on 2018 data, there is a 3.5% chance of playing in college. There were 540,769 total players in high school, and only 18,816 made it to any level of the NCAA.  

This incredibly low number should come as no surprise once you understand the many challenging aspects of becoming an elite athlete at a young age. This is why many players also end up playing internationally too. 

Why Is It So Hard To Make An NBA Team?

What percentage of high school basketball players make it to the NBA 2

The NBA is by far the hardest professional sports league to play in compared to other sports like football, baseball, soccer, and even hockey. 

This is because of player longevity, roster sizes, and the skill set required to get drafted. Undrafted players can also get signed by NBA teams and play in an NBA game.   

Player Longevity

The average length of an NBA player’s career is about 4.5 years when factoring in all players. Successful NBA players will remain on an NBA roster for 10-15 years.  

Because of this longevity, only a few spots are available for incoming rookies each year. This increases the competition and makes it much harder for new high school basketball players to make it. 

Smaller Roster Sizes

The NBA also has significantly smaller rosters than any other major sport in the United States. NBA rosters max out at 15 players, while MLB rosters carry 28 players (plus minor leagues), and the NFL carries 55 players. 

With such small rosters, most teams only add one or two new rookies each year. In comparison, NFL teams draft 7-10 new rookies each year. 

Unique Skill Set Required To Play Professional Basketball

Lastly, the NBA and average NBA player profile requires a unique skill set. There are fewer roles to play in the NBA, so it’s harder to carve out a role on a team because so many players can do the same thing. 

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What Sport Has the Best Percentage Odds To Make The Pros For High?

Of the three major sports, football and the NFL offers a high school player the best chance to make it to the pros. However, the percentage differences are marginal, and every league still offers an extremely low chance for any player. 

The odds of making it pro for each of these three sports are:

  • MLB: 829:1
  • NBA: 1,920:1
  • NFL: 554:1

The percentages are higher for football players primarily because of the roster size. NFL gameday rosters include 55 players, while NBA rosters have only 15 players. There are also many more Division I roster spots in football.

It’s also more common to see players get drafted from smaller schools in the NFL. This rarely happens, if ever, in the NBA. 

Most prospects played at high major schools, have high draft stock,  and get picked in the first round.

Another reason why the odds of making it in the NFL are higher is because of the various positions players can play. For example, many players carve out a role on special teams, earning them a permanent roster spot. 

Playing basketball is a different game. Players require size or a specific skill set to succeed. Baseball also has higher odds because of bigger rosters too. 

Key Takeaways

  • About 0.01 percent of high school basketball players will ever get drafted or signed and make it to the NBA. 
  • The odds of making the NBA are 1,920 to 1, which is much higher than any other major sport like the MLB or NFL. 
  • It’s harder to make the NBA because the rosters are smaller, players have longer careers, and becoming an NBA player requires a more unique skill set. 

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