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IMG Academy Grows NBA Draft Talent as School Goes International

  • IMG Academy could have a record three alums—Jarace Walker, Keyonte George, and Jett Howard—picked in the first round.
  • The Florida school will gain more access to athletes around the globe through its sale to a Hong Kong-based firm.
IMG Academy alums Keyonte George and Jarace Walker will be picked in Thursday's NBA Draft.
Raymond Carlin III-USA TODAY Sports

For the seventh straight year, IMG Academy basketball alumni will have their name called during the NBA Draft on Thursday at Barclays Center. 

This year’s group includes a pair of 19-year-olds—Jarace Walker and Keyonte George—who were teammates at the college prep school in Bradenton, Fla. before each played one year in the NCAA. Walker, a small forward out of the University of Houston, is projected to go fifth overall to the Detroit Pistons while Baylor guard George is projected to be picked 17th by the Los Angeles Lakers, according to the latest mock draft from Bleacher Report. 

“If your main goal is to try to get to the NBA, I think IMG is one of the places that could put you in the best spot possible,” George, the Big 12 Freshman of the Year, told Front Office Sports. “Just as far as a mental standpoint preparing you to come into a world like this, I think it’s top of the top. I would definitely recommend it if you’re trying to better prepare yourself.”  

George, Walker, and fellow NBA Draft prospect Gradey Dick are all part of Philips Norelco Team OneBlade through their endorsements with the razor brand. 

Endeavor, the parent company of UFC, agreed in April to sell IMG Academy for $1.25 billion to Hong Kong-based private equity group BPEA EQT. More than 30,000 high school athletes from IMG Academy have made college sports rosters, with many going pro across the NBA, MLB, NFL, soccer, tennis, and lacrosse. 

The Florida boarding school will gain access to athletes worldwide under its new ownership. IMG Academy is partnering with Nord Anglia Education, which operates over 80 boarding schools in 33 countries across Asia, the Middle East, Europe, and South America. 

While George and Walker are set to be the next IMG Academy alum to make the NBA, future classes could include overseas phenoms in the mold of Victor Wembanyama, the 19-year-old Frenchman set to be picked first-overall on Thursday on his way to becoming the league’s latest international superstar.

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