How impressive is
Amare Stoudemire's NBA start?

Suns rookie Amare Stoudemire quickly is raising expectations for drafted high schoolers to even greater levels.

Updated: January 3, 2003, 12:58 PM ET
By by Paul Sobaje, STATS. Inc.
When Kevin Garnett became the first player in more than 20 years to be drafted directly out of high school by an NBA team, there was skepticism as to whether the young man would be able to survive in the league for more than a year or two. The thought of a 19-year-old trying to box out Charles Oakley for a rebound was almost laughable at the time. Questions also arose concerning how a teenager would adjust emotionally to living the NBA lifestyle. But Garnett more than survived; he has become one of the league's elite players, and in the process opened the floodgates for prep players looking to bypass college on their way to NBA stardom.

Due at least in part to Garnett's success, teams now are routinely willing to take draft-day chances on high school players, even though clubs know that these younger players might not contribute for several years. And sometimes, as in the cases of Tracy McGrady and Jermaine O'Neal, players drafted out of high school become regular contributors only after leaving the team that selected them.

This season, however, Suns rookie Amare Stoudemire quickly is raising expectations for drafted high schoolers to even greater levels. Stoudemire, the latest player to follow in KG's footsteps, is contributing right away, something few of the others have done. In fact, he's more than contributing. Since joining Phoenix' starting rotation, the Suns have gone 15-7, while Stoudemire has averaged 15.0 points and 9.9 rebounds in those games. He's been an even bigger contributor on SportsCenter, already posterizing half of the Western Conference. His numbers this season compare quite favorably to others in their first season out of high school.