Brandon Jennings was one of the first players to go from prep to pro in the NBA league. The left-handed point guard went from Oak Hill Academy high school to play professionally for a European team rather than committing to a college basketball team. On July 16, 2008, Jennings signed with Lottomatica Roma of the Italian Serie A.
In 27 games, he averaged 5.5 points, 1.6 rebounds, 2.2 assists, and 1.5 steals in 17.0 minutes per game. After a year in Italy, Jennings decided to go to the NBA. The Milwaukee Bucks selected him tenth overall in the 2009 NBA draft. Before all that, Brandon was known as a high school basketball prodigy. It all started with his H.S. mixtape that went viral, and Jennings joined Gilbert Arenas on his podcast to talk about that.
“I think we were actually the first ones to get it going. It was also weird seeing these guys run up to you with cameras, and that was the MySpace era. That era was fun; a lot of guys like John Wall, O.J. Mayo, and Derrick Rose had a lot of great mixtapes.”Brandon Jennings, No Chill with Gilbert Arenas
And Gil remembers that Jennings’ mixtape caused a lot of fuss in the NBA world at the time. His moves worried some players, who started to work much more on their game after seeing Brandon play. Jennings was the first high-school player that got players in the NBA worried. They actually started working on their game, anticipating Jennigs’ arrival.
“Yeah, there were a lot of good mixtapes, but your’s stood out to the world. We all played highs school basketball, and you think you’re the coldest thing walking. And then you just go on the Internet and, like what?! At the time, there were NBA players that were like, ‘What moves does this dude have.‘ And we were all there writing moves down. Because once you go to that level, you never look down. But soon as the mixtapes hit, that changed everything. See, we are pros, and we’re seeing high school kids who are doing s*** we didn’t even think of. And we’re sitting here thinking that’s coming, we got to change our game. People we’re playing have regular cross-over moves, but this is some whole different type of stuff that we ain’t even ready for. We had to adjust quick.”Gilbert Arenas, No Chill with Gilbert Arenas
Even though Gil praises him, Jennings didn’t meet the expectations in the end. Jennings played for the Bucks, Pistons, Magic, Knicks, and Wizards through nine seasons. He averaged 14.1 points, three rebounds, and 5.7 assists in his NBA career, with his most fruitful season being ’11/’12 when he scored 19.1 points per game. He had a solid NBA career, which was shortened due to injuries. Jennings never really lived up to the level that was predicted for him after his mixtapes went viral. But, he started a trend we saw culminate with Zion Williamson walking into his first NBA game as one of the biggest stars in the Association.