The NBA plans to loosen the restrictions on team scouting high school players, according to a memo obtained by ESPN. Starting in mid-December, teams will be allowed to send personnel to select high-profile high 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 restrictions on players entering the league. As it stands, American players must be one year removed from their senior year of high school and be turning 19 in the year of the draft in order to be eligible to enter. While there have been discussions about eliminating the "one and done" rule, there are no concrete plans to eliminate it anytime soon. It is one of the many items that will be hotly contested during the next collective bargaining talks.
However, as the number of prospects who simply sit out the year after their high school graduation rises, front offices around the league have been pushing for greater access to scout these players at the prep level. The most recent example was Shaedon Sharpe, who went No. 7 overall in the 2022 NBA Draft to the Portland Trail Blazers. Sharpe was one of the highest ranked recruits in his class and committed to Kentucky, but never played for the Wildcats. As a result, he was one of the biggest unknowns in the draft; if teams had more information, he may have gone even higher.
Another aspect of the league's decision is an attempt to regulate the scouting of high school players and give organizations an opportunity to see them on their actual prep teams. Scouts can attend events such as McDonalds All-American Game and summer AAU tournaments, as well as G League Ignite and Overtime Elite games, but those settings feature players on what are essentially All-Star teams. Furthermore, players involved in those events, and particularly those playing for G League Ignite and Overtime Elite, were receiving what some viewed as an unfair advantage from scouts and NBA teams.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver his support for allowing players to enter the league at the age of 18, saying this summer that it's the "right thing to do." For now, though, teams will have to be content watching and scouting high school players at these select events.