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The NBA draft is an annual event dating back to 1947 in which the thirty teams from the National Basketball Association (NBA) can draft players who are eligible and wish to join the league.

These are typically college basketball players, but international players are also eligible to be drafted.

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Some players must be at least 19 years of age during the calendar year of the draft, and a player who completed basketball eligibility at an American high school must also be at least one year removed from the graduation of his high school class.

Restrictions exist on players signing with sports agents and on declaring for, then withdrawing, from drafts—although most of them are enforced by the NCAA rather than the NBA.

The top pick in the 1997 NBA draft, Tim Duncan, became the third international player picked number 1 overall—although his designation as "international" is a matter of semantics, as he is a native of the United States Virgin Islands and, like all USVI natives, is a U. Not only was the first overall pick an international player, but five more picks in the first round alone were also from overseas. As noted earlier, four international players had gone first overall before 2002, although all had played college basketball in the U. Hannah Beech (2003) wrote "Yao has single-handedly transformed his countrymen from nameless, faceless millions into mighty men who can jam with the very best." Yao has helped the NBA grow into a worldwide product.

In total, the 2002 draft produced 17 international players, with only three of them (all second-round picks) having U. Beech (2003) goes on to write "Ratings for NBA games broadcast on Chinese TV have never been higher than this year as the nation keeps track of its new favorite team, Yao's Houston Rockets." For his career Yao averaged a solid 19.0 points per game, 9.2 rebounds per game, 1.89 blocks per game, and shot 82.6 percent from the free throw line.

Players who are not automatically eligible but have declared their eligibility are often called "early-entrants" or "early-entry candidates".

The draft usually takes place at the end of June, during the NBA off-season.

Although Bol did not have a stellar career, he is known for being one of the tallest players ever to play the game at 7 feet and 7 inches. Including Duncan, 12 international players were selected in the two rounds of the draft—although half of them, including Duncan and the next two such players picked, had played college basketball.

He holds the record for being the tallest player ever to hit a 3-point field goal. The 1998 draft saw another foreign player picked first overall, Nigerian Michael Olowokandi, but like Duncan he had played college basketball, in his case at Pacific.

However, Thompson's selection was not a true harbinger of the game's globalization, as he had spent much of his childhood in Florida, and had played college basketball at Minnesota.

One of the first foreign players selected in the draft to play in the NBA was Manute Bol out of the Sudan in 1983 in the 5th round by the San Diego Clippers.

Beginning in 2016, players could enter the draft and participate in the NBA Draft Combine multiple times and retain NCAA eligibility by withdrawing from the draft within 10 days after the end of the mid-May NBA draft combine.

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