Ranking Indiana high school alumni relative to NBA Draft position

Photo: IndyStar photo illustration

Ranking Indiana high school alumni relative to NBA Draft position

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Ranking Indiana high school alumni relative to NBA Draft position

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Plenty of players from Indiana high schools have played in the NBA, but which ones most exceeded expectations?

Here are 20 players who made the most of their opportunity relative to their draft position. Some of these are household names, but it’s still not easy to realistically project players among the all-time greats when they’re in high school or college.

Five of these players are in the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame (as individuals) and seven more earned spots on at least one NBA and/or ABA All-Star team. Three earned NBA Most Improved Player honors and another a Sixth Man of the Year nod.

Most of the players on this list were first-round picks and all of them had pro careers lasting at least nine seasons. One was a fifth-round pick, and the draft hasn’t been more than two rounds for decades. Five played during the 2018-19 season.

(Included are the player’s high school, his draft year and position, and his career Player Efficiency Rating, a per-minute measure of production. Basketball Reference’s numbers for each player are listed here, and the league average is 15. Basketball Reference lists 172 NBA/ABA players from Indiana high schools.)

1. Larry Bird

High school: Springs Valley

Draft: 1978, 6th overall

Career PER: 23.5

The Boston Celtics drafted Bird in 1978 in the hope that he would skip his senior season at Indiana State. He stayed with the Sycamores and arrived in Boston in 1979. Career highlights include Rookie of the Year in 1980, three NBA titles, MVP honors for three straight years (1984-86), 12 All-Star berths in 13 seasons (he played just six games because of injury the other season), 21,791 career points and entry into the Hall of Fame.

He gets the top spot here because that one-year gap increases the chance of injury before turning pro.

More: Larry Bird trash-talking stories never get old

2. Oscar Robertson

Oscar Robertson (12), Cincinnati’s All-American Star, is seen mid-air in spread-eagle position after a rebound catch during the NCAA regional elimination game in Manhattan, Ka., March 1959 at an unknown location. Standing at right is All-American Star Bob Boozer (30) of Kansas State. (Photo: Associated Press)

High school: Crispus Attucks

Draft: 1960, 1st overall

Career PER: 23.2

He revolutionized the sport the minute he stepped on the court, showing that a player his size (6-5) could dominate as a point guard while also scoring and rebounding at an elite level. He was an All-Star his first 12 seasons, and in his second season he averaged 30.8 points, 12.5 rebounds and 11.4 assists. It would be decades before anyone else averaged a triple-double for a season. He won one NBA title and is a Hall of Famer.

He’s arguably one of the five best players ever, so that’s over-performing, even for a top overall pick.

Doyel: Oscar Robertson didn’t expect this call from the NBA

3. George McGinnis

George McGinnis, Indiana Pacers Oct. 1971 (Photo: Frank Fisse/IndyStar)

High school: Washington (Indianapolis)

Draft: 1973, 2nd round (22nd overall; 17 teams in the league)

Career PER: 20.0

He was already playing for the Indiana Pacers in the ABA when Philadelphia drafted him. Otherwise, his NBA draft spot would have been higher. After four years in Indy, winning two titles, he played his next three with the 76ers. He also played for Denver, earning six All-Star berths between the leagues. He averaged a double-double for seven straight seasons and is a Hall of Famer.

4. Shawn Kemp

High school: Concord

Draft: 1989, 17th overall

Career PER: 19.1

It’s sometimes lost in the highlight-reel dunks, but Kemp was a six-time All-Star and double-double threat in his prime. He earned second-team all-league honors three times (1994-96).

His path from Concord to the NBA was a bit bumpy, with short stints at Kentucky and a junior college (he didn’t play at either). That’s why he was picked in the middle of the first round rather than near the top, where his talent dictated. (The follow through on that dunk is one of the best ever.)

More: Bailey, Kemp, Big Dog: Indiana’s McDonald’s All Americans over the years

5. Clyde Lovellette

Clyde Lovellette (second from left) won a national title at Kansas, an Olympic gold medal and NBA titles with Boston. (Photo: IndyStar file photo)

High school: Terre Haute Garfield

Draft: 1952, 9th overall (10 teams in the league)

Career PER: 21.6

He was a four-time All-Star, averaged a double-double in six seasons and was the first player to win collegiate, Olympic and NBA titles. He’s a Hall of Famer.

After retiring from basketball, Lovellette tried the restaurant and car businesses before being elected Vigo County sheriff. He cut quite a figure walking through Terre Haute.

To see 15 more of the top Indiana players, visit the IndyStar.

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