Decades before Kobe Bryant or LeBron James, Moses Malone started the ball rolling as the first pro prep hit


When Kevin Garnett was fifth overall by the Minnesota Timberwolves in the 1995 NBA Draft, he was the first high school player drafted in 20 years. A total of 38 others followed Garnett before the NBA changed the age limit for the 2006 draft. The results were decidedly hit and miss. But before any choice of the NBA, Moses Malone paved the way for high school students to go straight to the pros and find success.

An NBA team has never drafted Malone. Well, one of them did, but the New Orleans Jazz lost the rights to Malone when he was found to be subject to the ABA player dispersal plan as part of the NBA merger. -ABA.

Moses Malone was one of the most coveted ABA Dispersal Draft awards in August 1976 because, at age 21, he already had two years of professional experience and was showing star potential.

Moses Malone was like every other candidate in high school until he wasn’t

As a senior at Petersburg High School in Virginia, Moses Malone was simply dominant. He first committed to dating Clemson before changing his mind and committing to Maryland, according to the narrative story of Terry Pluto of the American Basketball Association, Bulk balls. However, the ABA Utah Stars began to spot Malone and Larry Creger, an assistant coach of the Stars, began the chase.

Creger pointed out the level of poverty in the neighborhood where Malone lived. Mary Malone’s health made this worse. Moses’ mother was no longer supposed to work because of ulcers.

“It was obvious they were broke. The house had no paint. There was no grass where the lawn was supposed to be. The whole neighborhood was like that, extremely poor.

“The interior of the house was okay. I was under the impression that some colleges had sent them furniture. They had a nice color TV, new carpet and a new sofa. They also appeared to have the only house in this area with a window air conditioner. Maybe Mary Malone made the money for this stuff, but I found it very hard to believe.

Larry Creger

What Creger never heard from the Malones was the firm belief that Moses had to go to college. It opened the door for one of the best rebounders in NBA history (and one of the toughest teammates) to start early.

Malone signs 4-year guaranteed contract for huge sum (at the time)

Utah Stars center Moses Malone (22) shoots against New York Nets center Billy Paultz (5) during an American Basketball Association (ABA) game at the Nassau Coliseum circa 1975 in Uniondale, New York. | George Gojkovich / Getty Images

The Utah Stars kicked Moses Malone out of high school, earning him the wrath of the college basketball establishment. The whole league has paid the price, as colleges have banned ABA scouts from their campuses. Malone’s contract was for four years and $ 565,000. It was a huge investment for a guy who had never played beyond high school.

But Malone averaged 18.8 points and 14.6 rebounds per game as a 19-year-old rookie. Limited by a broken foot in his second season, Malone never played for Utah again. As he healed, the stars fell back and the Spirits of St. Louis picked him up in the current of dispersal air. St. Louis was one of the franchises paid to retire as part of the merger with the NBA.

Tom Nissalke coached him with the Stars in his rookie season and was impressed with his rebounding prowess.

“Young Moses Malone had virtually no offensive movement other than a devastating ability to get the ball out of the glass. He was so lightning fast and just seemed to know where a bounce was going. I saw a playoff game in his rookie season where he had 38 rebounds, including 23 out of the offensive glass.

Tom nissalke

Nissalke, who went on to coach the Houston Rockets, was able to reunite with Moses Malone soon after.

Moses Malone also takes the NBA by storm

Moses Malone never played for the Trail Blazers, who traded him to the Buffalo Braves after selecting him in the scatter draft. Buffalo babysat Malone for two games before selling him to the Rockets.

Although Malone developed a lower game as he matured, the offensive rebound skill was still there. In 19 NBA seasons, Malone won more offensive boards than any player in league history (the statistic became official in 1973), finishing with 6,731. His 16,212 total rebounds rank fifth. of all time and is ninth in NBA history with 27,409 points.

Moses Malone was a first-round Hall of Fame inductee in 2001, but a heart attack cut his life short in September 2015 at the age of 60. He’s one of four Hall of Fame pro prep players, including Garnett, Kobe Bryant and Tracy McGrady. It was Malone, however, who helped pave the way for the rest of them.

Statistics courtesy of Basketball Reference.

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