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Boys Among Men: How the Prep-to-Pro Generation Redefined the NBA and Sparked a Basketball Revolution

4.15  ·  Rating details ·  2,518 ratings  ·  208 reviews
The definitive, never-before-told story of the prep-to-pro generation, those basketball prodigies who from 1995 to 2005 made the jump directly from high school to the NBA.
When Kevin Garnett shocked the world by announcing that he would not be attending college—as young basketball prodigies were expected to do—but instead enter the 1995 NBA draft directly from high schoo
Hardcover, 313 pages
Published March 15th 2016 by Crown Archetype
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Average rating 4.15  · 
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 ·  2,518 ratings  ·  208 reviews

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Dec 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing
In 1995, the Minnesota Timberwolves shook up the culture of the NBA by selecting Kevin Garnett with the fifth pick of the draft. The reason that this was highly unusual was that Garnett never played a second of college basketball – he was drafted straight out of high school. While Garnett was not the first player to have ever gone from high school to the pros, he was the first of a new generation of players that would make the transition. This generation of players and what it did to the game is ...more
Charlie Evans
Jun 03, 2021 rated it liked it
Overall really good book-- more like 3.5 stars, only because the organization of the book wasn't super clear at times (a lot of names to keep track of, so organization is especially important for things like that for me). Just reaffirmed that the NBA is the most interesting sports league for me. Really cool insight into a debate about the minimum age requirement that I was pretty unaware of. Also interesting, brief discussions about race's role in the league and this overall debate about exploit ...more
Jan 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: crowd-goes-wild
Disclaimer I won a copy of this via a Goodreads Giveaway. My rating and thoughts on the book have nothing to do with this, if I had found the book disappointing or lacking I would express this.

I hate the term "must-read," but this book for a fan of the NBA is a must-read. Abrams has a great voice and writes a riveting look of the NBA, it's players, and those players that were not able to rise to the level needed. It is fascinating and full of interesting little tidbits about players and teams th
Mar 26, 2016 rated it really liked it
After reading this book I'm more convinced than ever that the NBA age limit is wrong. In Chapter 21, Abrams lays it all out. Think Kwame Brown was a bust and a cautionary tale? Kwame Brown made $60 million dollars over his 13 year career. Eddie Curry never lived up to his potential? How does $70 million over 12 years sound. Yes some players might not have the mental toughness to make it in the NBA. But does a year of college really help? Leon Smith ended up struggling with psychological issues w ...more
Benoit Lelièvre
Fantastic book. Black metal, capital punishment and the NBA Draft are the three things I know way too much about in life, yet the prep-to-pro generation still held many mysteries to me. There were so many extreme cases: Kevin Garnett, LeBron James and Kobe Bryant on one side and Kwame Brown, Korleone Young and Lenny Cooke on the other. Jonathan Abrams did a killer job at getting into the lives of these mysterious super athletes who tantalized a generation of NBA scouts, these weird creatures tha ...more
May 04, 2016 rated it liked it
Good book, but as a college basketball fan, I thought it had holes. It seems as though the author went in with the notion the "preps to pros" route is the "right" route, and went about trying to prove it throughout the book.

Much more time was spent focusing on the success stories like LeBron and Kobe, then failures like Robert Swift and Leon Smith.... the failures were covered, but not to the degree I;d hoped.
Matt Lieberman
Jan 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Originally reviewed on:

This April will mark the 10th anniversary of when the NBA set their current age limit of 19, effectively banning the practice of players jumping directly from high school to the pros. Unless Gerald Green has a late-career renaissance or something we all have a decent idea of how these prep-to-pro players have generally panned out in the pros. The route has yielded some major hits (Moses Malone, Kobe Bryant, Lebron James) and misses
Deacon Tom F
Oct 04, 2022 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

A very well written book. It is affirmative for those who love high school early like Kobe Bryant and Kevin Garnett, etc.

Is exceptionally sad when it comes to those high school players who skip college went to the pros and didn’t make it.
if you’re basketball junkie like me is is a fantastic book that I highly recommend.
Alexander Piccinin
May 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Just finished Jonathan Abrams’ expose on the changing landscape of the NBA. Abrams crafts a deep dive into the multi-generational relationship between high-school basketball prodigies, and their entryway into the world of professional basketball.
Personally, I found the book balanced and bi-partisan. Abrams offers neither a blanket support, nor a condemnation of the current state of affairs with the so-called “One-and-done” rule in place in the NBA. Instead, “Boys Among Men” maps the shifting
Jun 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
An awesome book for NBA junkies. Starting briefly with Moses Malone in the 70s, then focusing on the Kevin Garnett and Kobe Bryant-led influx of high schoolers into the NBA, Abrams does an incredible job illustrating the pros and cons of these important life decisions on such young men. It really encapsulated a historic time in the NBA (and NCAA, for that matter), leading to changes in the league that continue to reverberate today.

The most interesting parts of the book to me were the guys who di
Brandon McGuire
Aug 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I absolutely loved this book and once I really sat down and started to read it for real, I flew through it. Basketball is already my favorite sport and the NBA is my favorite professional league so my interest was piqued at the beginning. It was a wonderful book and I really enjoyed seeing how the league has changed concerning the possibility of high schoolers jumping to the NBA. The heartbreaking aspects concerning the guys that didn’t make it really affected me. I’ve always been the type to be ...more
Dec 25, 2020 rated it it was ok
“Boys Among Men” didn’t do it for me. Jonathan Abrams tracks how some of basketball’s biggest stars transitioned from high school to the pros, covers a few who couldn’t make the jump, and considers a range of opinions as to whether the NBA’s age eligibility rules should be changed. I especially liked the sections on KG and Kobe, and it was interesting to learn a bit about big prospects that faded from the limelight, like Korleone Young and Lenny Cooke. Still, I thought Abrams lost some steam and ...more
Thomas Nassiff
Oct 20, 2020 rated it liked it
For my money, the NBA is currently about as interesting as it’s ever been. I definitely don’t watch as much professional basketball as I did while I was in college, high school or even younger than that, but I love loosely keeping up with the league and its current generation of fun young talent: Giannis Antetokounmpo with Milwaukee, Anthony Davis with New Orleans, Karl-Anthony Towns with Minnesota, Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid with Philadelphia, even the he’s-only-25-years-old Brad Beal, of Univ ...more
Nicholas A
Aug 23, 2018 rated it did not like it
the books was not attention grabbing and it was like readung a wikipedia page.
Aug 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
It was a good book. It gave me an insight on the transition from high school to pro basketball, and I thought that was cool and interesting.
Aug 27, 2019 rated it liked it
It was a good book. It showed many opinions based off if people straight out of high school can go straight into the NBA or wait a Year and go in. I am not the biggest basketball fan but it was an okay book.
Jack Landis
Aug 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book describes the transition that young men made into the nba instead of college. This was a bold decision to skip out on education and choose the risk of pro sports. Young basically high school students were among grown men trying to make it in the league.
Afsheen Zafaranian
Aug 27, 2019 rated it liked it
It was a good book about high school players going to the NBA.
I thought the book was a amazing book. I loved reading about the NBA players what happened in their life and struggles they went through and some positives they went through.
Oliver Bateman
May 31, 2016 rated it really liked it
The Abrams "prep-to-pro" essays that ran on the late, sorta-great Grantland (sorta-great at least in the beginning of its run, before it devolved into a bunch of 200-word Rembert Browne shitposts) were appointment reading. Each one was the result of careful, focused reporting; each one yielded a single coherent story.

This book, however, is a mishmash of that stuff, along with some new material, in a mostly chronological account that does a disservice to the source material. At this point, when l
Feb 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: first-reads
I received a copy of this book for free through a Goodreads First Reads giveaway.

"Boys Among Men" is a fantastic look at the years when many high school basketball players had the option of going directly into the National Basketball Association. The stories about the players featured are well researched and detailed. The author does a great job of including the obvious success stories like Kevin Garnett, while also addressing the 'what could have been' stories like Lenny Cooke. It's both a cele
Mar 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Jonathan Abrams is the freaking man.

I've read a bunch of his oral histories, so I was pretty excited when I found out he was coming out with an even longer and more in depth look at the NBA. I loved how he weaved in and out between timelines, players, coaches, and themes. Although it loosely follows a chronological order, its not a simple march down a timeline. He pulls the best content for the best moment to paint the picture he sees as the truth.

In a lot of ways he reminds me of this college p
Hans Kristensen
May 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is a great book. Abrams gets you into the heads of the players, coaches and officials he writes about and behind the scenes of some historic events and decisions. The writing is crisp and fast paced.

After reading it I am convinced the all high school athletes should go to college for two years. This will mature their games, their bodies and ultimately themselves.

If you are a basketball fan but and read this book
Jun 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sports, read-2016
A well researched and written look at the group of young men who went directly to the NBA after high school and how they impacted the league. As someone who has always felt that the minimum age rule that the NBA now has is wrong, this book did reinforce my views but also presented the association's side. ...more
Dash Williams
Jun 28, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
Excellent look at the time in NBA history in which GMs chased the next Moses Malone.
Nov 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Did you know two of the last players selected in the NBA draft out of high school were Gerald Green and Amir Johnson. Amir johnson was the very last high school player selected in the NBA draft because now you have to be one year removed from high school. Both of these players turned out average at best and it shows that they didn't have the needed talents to become stars in the NBA. I did really like the book Boys Among Men by Jonathan Abrams which is a nonfiction basketball book that deals wit ...more
Jon Den Houter
Sep 29, 2022 rated it really liked it
This book felt liked a cobbled-together mishmash of newspaper articles covering basketball players who made the leap, either directly, after a year in college, or after a year playing basketball overseas, from high school to the NBA. It felt like this because that's indeed what the book is: as Abrams says in the acknowledgements, "More than anything, [Bill Simmons] has taught me to make every article I turn in my best and hopefully this book meets that standard... It took years to gather enough ...more
Riley Haas
Feb 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is a pretty excellent narrative history of the one and only generation of NBA stars to come directly from high school. Though I have one minor quibble, I got over it and, for the most part, it's probably the definitive book about this topic.
Initially, I was put off by the paragraphing, which felt highly idiosyncratic. At times, a paragraph was a sentence. At other times, it was two or three ideas. I am familiar with Abrams' fantastic oral histories and, to me, this style seemed like it was
Sep 26, 2022 rated it liked it
Extensive anecdotal review of what happened to players going directly from high school to the NBA. If you love basketball it's enjoyable to read about some of these players' struggles with the decision about draft vs. college, perspectives of agents/families/college coaches/commissioner/etc.

This may be an unfair criticism since he doesn't pretend to be offering an analytics-based look at the phenomenon, but fwiw it seemed strange in my reading to wait till the book was 90% over to describe a stu
Peter Cohen
Mar 24, 2019 rated it really liked it

Fascinating, exhilarating, troubling, sad. It’s about what makes a star, a reliable journey man, or a promising but flawed prospect. It’s about boys trying to break out of their poverty, immaturity, deprivation, or their being plundered or pigeon-holed as another example of “hip-hop culture.” And it’s about a group of youngsters daring to face down the status quo—that you can’t make it in the NBA out of high school—and those who help or hinder them.

Written with heart and precision, Boys Among Me
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JONATHAN ABRAMS is an award-winning journalist who has covered the NBA for ESPN’s Grantland, The New York Times and Los Angeles Times. He is a graduate of the University of Southern California.

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