The NBA plans to ease restrictions on school team scouting. according to memo obtained by ESPN. Beginning in mid-December, teams will be allowed to send staff to play in major school tournaments. These include the Tarkanian Classic in Las Vegas, the Spalding HoopHall Classic in Springfield, Massachusetts, and the Geico Nationals in Fort Myers, Florida.
This decision will not affect the current age limits for players entering the league. As it stands, American players must be suspended for one year from their senior year of high school and must turn 19 in the year of the draft to be eligible. While discussions are underway to end the one-and-one rule, there are no concrete plans to end it anytime soon. This is one of the many issues that will be the subject of heated debate in the next collective bargaining.
However, as the number of prospects who just hole up for a year after high school grows, front offices across the league are pushing for greater access to prep-level scouting for these players. The most recent example was Shadon Sharp, who took the seventh overall pick in the 2022 NBA draft with the Portland Trail Blazers. Sharpe was one of the highest-ranking recruits in his class and was a Kentucky loyalist but never played for the Wildcats. As a result, he was one of the biggest unknowns in the draft; if the teams had more information, he could rise even higher.
Another aspect of the league’s decision is an attempt to streamline the search for high school players and allow organizations to see them on their actual prep teams. Scouts can attend events such as the McDonalds All-American Game and AAU summer tournaments, as well as G League Ignite and Overtime Elite games, but these settings involve players who are essentially All-Star teams. In addition, players who participated in these events, especially those who played for G League Ignite and Overtime Elite, received what some saw as an unfair advantage from NBA scouts and teams.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silverhe supported allowing players to join the league at age 18, saying this summer it was “the right thing to do”. However, for now, teams will have to make do with watching high school players at these select events.