If a college player can score at a high rate before turning 20 years old, they have a great chance for NBA success.
This quick test was explained a few years ago in The Sports Resource Newsletter. That year, the 2008 NBA Draft had seven players selected who had averaged 20 points per 40 minutes in their final college season before turning 20 years old. Among that group, Derrick Rose, Kevin Love, Michael Beasley and Eric Gordon have emerged as strong NBA players. J.J. Hickson appears headed for a solid career. Jerryd Bayless and Kosta Koufos still have a ways to go.
The next two drafts produced just two “20 under 20” players apiece. All seem destined for excellent careers. The 2009 draft included Tyreke Evans and James Harden, while 2010 had DeMarcus Cousins and Al-Farouq Aminu.
This year’s draft features just three members of the 20 under 20 club. Kyrie Irving and Alec Burks have gotten their share of attention, but a third player isn’t projected to go until the 20’s in most mock drafts. Tennessee’s Tobias Harris actually did the other prospects one better – he averaged 20 points per 40 minutes before turning 19 years old! This hasn’t been done by a drafted player in his final college season since Kevin Durant in 2007.
Burks turned in his own impressive feat by going 20 under 20 in both of his college seasons. He joined Derrick Williams, Jordan Hamilton, Kenneth Faried and Chris Wright as players who did this in seasons other than their final college campaign.