Moses Malone.

Moses Malone: An NBA great via a route less travelled

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The NBA is littered with past stories of players making the jump straight from high school to the professional game. Of course, the prep-to-pro route was outlawed in 2006, and it created the one-and-done trend that has become so popular within the collegiate basketball system. 

Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, and Kevin Garnett are successful products of the prep-to-pro boom between the years of 1995 and 2005, but there are a number of much less successful stories; who can forget Kwame Brown. 

Skipping college is a move that pre-dates the emergence of Bryant and James - two of the league's biggest superstars - and can be traced back as far as Reggie Harding in 1962, who was selected by the Detroit Pistons straight from Eastern High School. 

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However, in the archives of players who decided college was not for them, there is one name who will not be found; Moses Malone. 

The late center is a Hall of Fame inductee, a three-time MVP, and an NBA champion, but he took a road much less traveled to reach legendary status, and that included a stint in the ABA. 

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Malone had every intention of going to college. He signed a letter of intent to play for the Terrapins at the University of Maryland but that all changed with the 1974 draft. 

In the same year that fellow Hall of Famers George Gervin, Keith Wilkes, and Bill Walton began their NBA adventures, Malone - a tall, thin 19-year-old - began his career with the Utah Stars. 

Two years later, via a season with the Spirit of St. Louis, it was time for his NBA journey to begin as the ABA merger took place. After originally signing with the New Orleans Jazz, then the Portland TrailBlazers, he finally made his bow with the Buffalo Braves. 

Moses Malone and Julius Erving watch the game

He was traded to the Houston Rockets after just two games with the Braves and that was where he really came into his own. It was clear to see the now-21-year-old had the talent to be a raging success in the association. 

Averaging 13.4 points and 13.5 rebounds per game in his first season, he improved those numbers incredibly to finish with career averages in Houston of 24 points and 15 rebounds in 38.3 minutes of action. 

A ring eluded him in Space City, but he would pick up two MVP titles in 1979 and 1982. But there was success on the horizon. A trade to the Philadephia 76ers brought with it the only ring of an illustrious career. 

Atlanta Hawks

Malone's career came to an end in 1995 and finished 12 All-Star appearances and four All-NBA first team selections to go with his ring and MVP honours. 

In the discussion of who is the best prep-to-pro player ever, it usually boils down to a battle between the Black Mamba and King James, but Moses Malone is a name that deserves an honourable mentioned. 

He may have taken an alternative route to the pinnacle of the sport, but once there he left a mark that is still felt today and he is sorely missed by everybody in the basketball community.

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