Randy Moss and Jason Williams paired at DuPont High School to form one of the most entertaining duos in sports history. Born deep in the back country roads of West Virginia, the pair would shake up the nation with their exploits on and off the court. Featured in one of the greatest Nike commercials of all time. The short 30 second ad, shows footage of both Williams and Moss teaming up as kids in Belle, West Virginia. They were teammates for two seasons, leading the DuPont basketball team to the state finals in 1994. While both faced trying times in college and high school, each had serious success in the professional ranks. Two young men who grew up less than a mile apart, would have unmeasured success in their respective sports.
Welcome to Rand, a half-mile from Jason's boyhood home, Randy was raised here in a small house on Church Street. Rand is a small section tucked between the Allegheny Mountains and the Kanawha River. Although it’s only a 10-minute drive from the state capital, it’s rural in every other respect. As discussed in the ESPN feature Rand University, the town had several points of racial tension. But Moss and Williams always seem to ignore that, instead focusing on the bond between the two. Randy moved to Rand at a young age and football was big in his neighborhood. He played a game known as Razzle Dazzle, Moss attributes much of his dynamic play to the game he and his friends played.
The two found each other long before high school. “We were in fourth grade, playing midget football on different teams,” Moss recalls. “He was quarterback and ran a bootleg. Next thing we knew, he was high-stepping into the end zone like Walter Payton. We wanted to kill him. But we never caught him.” By eighth grade, Moss was on the business end of Williams bombs. “I’d throw it as far as I could, and Randy would get it,” Williams says. “All I wanted to do was throw him the bomb.” Said Williams. “That’s the only play we really needed. I never wanted to throw any short passes to him because he was so fast. I used to drop back and throw it as high and as far as I could throw it. Randy would take care of the rest. He could run and jump and do it all”.
Jason's father, Terry, was a state trooper, and had the keys to the gym. Jason took full advantage, practicing for long hours throwing around the back passes against a tape square on the gym wall. The young Williams also spent hours dribbling with wrist weights on. At age four, Jason was already an accomplished ball handler, and by age seven he had determined that he would become an NBA player some day.
DuPont High School
They both attended the now defunct DuPont High School in Belle, West Virginia. Williams won the Mr. Basketball award in West Virginia as a senior in 1993-1994. While Moss took home Mr. Basketball and Mr. Football award as a senior in 1994-1995.
After taking advantage of his father having the gym keys, Williams started for the varsity as a freshman in 1990-91. The following year Moss followed and enrolled at DuPont. Williams had a spectacular high school career, starting all four years. He finished off his career with a senior average of 18 points and 10 assists. Williams was the only player in DuPont history to reach 1,000 points and 500 assists. As a senior Williams was invited to the Nike All-American camp, a prestigious honor, considering only one player from the state made the camp. While Jason turned some heads at camp, his play was not dominant.
Randy Moss excelled in football, basketball, baseball and track. He was also on the school's debate team. He took home the Mr. Basketball award for West Virginia as a senior in 1995. After Jason Williams attended All-American camp, Moss was chosen as the state representative for the Nike All-American camp the following summer. Moss instantly realized that his 6-4 frame, wasn't ideal to play a forward spot (after matching up with teenage superstar Kevin Garnett ). As a sophomore in 1992, Moss joined the track & field team and was the West Virginia state champion in the 100 and 200 meters with times of 10.94 seconds and 21.95 seconds. This was the only year he competed on the school's track team, but he would later join the Marshall track team and lower his 200 m time to 21.15 seconds. He even played center field for the baseball team for one season, where he excelled as a defensive player.
Moss was a national standout while on the gridiron at DuPont. He was at the top of recruiting list nationally and led the football team to three straight state titles. As a senior in 1994 he was named the West Virginia Football Player of the year. On the field, Moss teamed with future Chicago Bears linebacker Bobbie Howard and division one running back Sean Singleton. He was a star at wide receiver, but also played free safety, returned kickoffs and punts, and was the team's kicker and punter. Parade magazine named him to their annual All-American high school football team in 1995. The football squad was so dominant, they cut off all the lights in Rand when the DuPont team played home games, because everyone in town attended the games. Opposing teams in West Virginia simply weren't athletic enough to deal with Moss in any sort of situation on the gridiron. While everyone in the state wanted Randy to choose West Virginia, he committed to play for Lou Holtz and the Notre Dame Fighting Irish.
The duo was easily the most exciting duo in the history of West Virginia basketball. As a junior and senior, he teamed up with Randy Moss on the hardwood for some iconic mixtape plays. The flashy Williams used his ball handling and passing ability to dazzle crowds. Moss was an all world athlete using his jumping ability. DuPont's gym held 1,000 people, if you weren't there an hour early, you were standing outside. In Jason's senior year, all the starters could dunk, and once all did in the same game. They drew hundreds of fans on game nights, forcing the school to install temporary bleachers to accommodate the overflow crowds. The duo led DuPont to the state championship before loosing to Martinsburg 79-73. Despite DuPont showcasing a bevy of highlights, Martinsburg came away with the win. In the last game they played together, Williams had 17 points, 11 assists and 9 rebounds. Moss went for 33 points and 14 rebounds.
Moss and his friends were known to indulge in typical teenage actives like drinking and smoking Marijuana. But in the hallways of DuPont, racial tensions grew fierce. Moss was involved in 7 racially motivated fights over his high school career. Near the end of his senior year at DuPont, Moss took part in a fight that sent a student to the hospital. The incident would put his future in jeopardy and eventually result in jail time.
Both Williams and Moss faced rather serious problems in college, each was dismissed from a college team. Each had issues in their college career with substance abuse. Moss and Williams were each caught multiple times failing drug tests in college.
Coming out of high school, Jason originally committed to play ball for Providence, feeling he had connected with coach Rick Barnes. But when Barnes left for Clemson, Jason got out of his letter of intent. That fall, he enrolled in Fork Union Military Academy in Virginia. Which lasted all of three days, when he was handed a vocabulary quiz with 300 words on it, he had seen enough. Jason’s dad suggested he explore the possibilities at Division-II Marshall in West Virginia. He had met head coach Billy Donovan and was impressed. After red-shirting 1994-95, the redshirt freshman averaged 13.4 points and 6.4 assists for the Thundering Herd in 1995-1996. After sitting out the 1996–97 season, he followed coach Billy Donovan to Florida and became the starting point guard during the 1997–98 season. As a Gator, Williams had immediate success setting a school single-game record with 17 assists. Through twenty games, he averaged 17.1 points, 6.7 assists and 2.8 steals per game against top flight competition. He even led the Gators to an 86–78 upset of the Kentucky Wildcats in Lexington. His darting, spinning drives, reckless penetration and impossible behind-the-back passes, majestic three-pointers, and uncanny showmanship brought fans out of their seats. Many compared him to another SEC legend, Pete Maravich. Jason was the hottest thing in college ball. However a series of failed drug test led Donovan to suspend Williams the first time. The second time he was caught, he was kicked off the team. His career at Florida lasted just 20 games before he was kicked off the team for a marijuana violation. All of his focus turned to the 1998 NBA draft.
After he was kicked out of DuPont high school, Randy Moss was denied enrollment at Notre Dame. Head coach Lou Holtz advised Randy to give Florida State’s Bobby Bowden a call. The Seminoles gave Randy a second chance, as he spent his freshman season as a redshirt. Moss dominated in spring ball so much that Bowden began referring to him as a bigger version of Deion Sanders. Just a few months later, Randy violated his probation by failing a drug test, thus resulting in more jail time and his dismissal from FSU. Few major programs had interest in Moss at that point. After dealing with a bevy of trouble and having to transfer from Florida State. He eventually found his way to local Marshall University for the 1996 and 1997 season. He signed to play at Marshall because they were Division I-AA at the time and he wouldn’t have to sit out another season. At Marshall, Moss vowed to change his ways. Choosing to spend all of his time in his apartment or at the Marshall practice facility, he removed himself from the hype of the outside world. He stared with future NFL pro bowl quarterback Chad Pennington and formed a dynamic offensive duo. His sophomore season saw Moss put up 1,709 receiving yards and 28 touchdowns. As a junior at Marshall, Moss went nuts racking up 1,820 receiving yards and 26 touchdowns. The small school star receiver finished 3rd in the Heisman voting.
Both Williams and Moss were both drafted in the first round of their respective sports. To the surprise of many, Williams went higher than Moss in the draft. Moss sat a considerably longer time than most expected, being selected 21st overall by the Minnesota Vikings in the NFL draft. For his childhood friend Jason, the experience was different. Williams surpassed draft experts elevations when he was selected 7th overall by the Sacramento Kings in the NBA draft. “Since I was little I wanted to play in the NBA," he says, "where you didn't have to deal with foolishness like homework.” Both players dazzled their respective leagues in their rookie season. Setting the sports marketing world on fire with their dynamic and unique on court style.
When Moss burst onto the NFL scene in 1998, he was 6-foot-5, ran a 4.25 40, and made catches that defied physics. He instantly led the Vikings to a 15-1 regular-season record and an NFC championship playoff run, he intimidated every defensive coordinator in the league, and teammate Cris Carter admitted that Moss could be better than Jerry Rice. In 1998, Moss helped the Vikings to become the number 1 rated offense ever at the time, setting the single-season record for scoring (later surpassed by the 2007 New England Patriots, a team that also featured Moss) with 556 points. He was named the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year for his rookie-record 17 touchdown receptions and the third highest receiving yardage with 1,313.
In 1999, Moss had another impressive season, catching 80 passes for 1,413 yards and 11 touchdowns. In 2000, Moss finished the season with a career-high 1,437 yards and league leading 15 touchdown catches. Making him the youngest player ever to catch for over 3,000 yards and 45 touchdowns. During the 2002 season Moss caught a career high 106 passes for only 7 touchdowns. The following year was one of his finest, playing only 12 games while catching for 1,632 yard sand 17 touchdowns.
After an injury plagued 2004 season his off field antics eventually got him traded to the Oakland Raiders, where he spent the worst 2 seasons of his career. Eventually he found his way to the New England Patriots, where he would once again set the NFL on fire. His first year with the Patriots was his best, he caught a record 23 touchdowns to go along with 1,493 receiving yards. The Patriots remained undefeated until they lost in a Superbowl thriller to the New York Giants. During the 2008 season Tom Brady was injured and Moss caught for only 11 touchdowns and 1,008 yards. 2009 was his last good season as he returned to form, catching for 1,264 yards and 13 touchdowns. The twilight of his career saw the receiver bounce around with the Tennessee Titans and San Francisco 49ers, before finally retiring with the Minnesota Vikings. He was named to the All-Pro team 3 times in Minnesota and again in 2007 with the Patriots. Moss finished his career as the number 2 all time receiver in yards and touchdowns. Although Jason Williams was no slouch talent-wise, he and Moss don’t really belong in the same conversation when it comes to professional on field accomplishments. Moss retires as the most physically gifted wide receiver to ever put on cleats. Still Jason Williams managed to get the one thing that escaped Randy Moss, a championship ring.
It’s easy to forget Williams’ monumental arrival in the NBA. At the time, the NBA was looking for anything that could help them shoulder the loss of Michael Jordan. Jason’s game was electric, his flashy style of play gained him millions of fans almost overnight. Drafted seventh overall in 1998, Williams helped transform the revamped Sacramento Kings into the league’s most exciting team and an instant playoff contender. The NBA marketing machine loved Jason, and he gave them nightly highlight-reel material. His nickname, “White Chocolate,” became one of the league’s most widely known. His jerseys were among the NBA best sellers and he signed a big endorsement deal with Nike. Appearing in the Nike Freestyle Commercial, his personal signature commercial and his signature "Good old Boys" commercial (featuring him and Randy Moss). Jason's popularity grew by leaps and bounds. The behind-the-back and no-look passes were thrown with a flair seldom seen in the NBA. His play was one of the flashiest in league history, and the fans instantly recognized it. This led him to be compared once again to the legendary Pete Maravich. The elbow pass he threw rookie weekend was one of the most creative moves ever thought up on hardwood. Jason led the team with 299 assists in the shortened 1999 season, and the Kings finished with a decent 27-23 record. Sacramento's year ended in the playoffs with a 99-92 overtime loss, to Utah Jazz in the first round. Jason's rookie year saw him average 12.8 points and 6 assists per game. However his play was as much reckless as it was entertaining, often to dismay of his head coach Rick Adelman.
Williams spent another season with the Kings, winning 57 games in the 2000 season. The following season he was traded to Memphis, head coach Hubie Brown made a real impact on the philosophy of Jason’s game. His game blossomed, he made the basic plays and began to excel as a point guard. His finest individual year came with the Grizzlies during the 2001-2002 season, he averaged 14.8 points and 8 assists per game. Toward the twilight of his career he found his way to the Miami Heat. Where he paired with Gary Payton at point guard, to help Miami win the NBA Championship. He started all of Miami's playoff games in 2006 during their run to the championship. He would serve as the third leading scorer for Miami averaging 12.3 points a game, and only trailed Wade with 4.9 assists per contest. Williams spent the next two seasons in Miami before moving on to Orlando. In Orlando he played just a season and a half before retiring with the Memphis Grizzlies.
Randy Moss retired as the most physically gifted wide receiver to ever put on cleats. Bobby Bowden put it best: “He was as good as Deion Sanders. Deion’s my measuring stick for athletic ability, and this kid was just a bigger Deion.” When it was all said and done, Moss was a key factor in 2 different NFL record breaking offenses. While not as physically dominant in his pro career, Williams style remained one of the most unique in the history of basketball. It was one of the most crowd pleasing styles since the late Pete Maravich in the 1970’s. Both players impact is clear even years after both have retried from the game.
Although they went their separate ways, the two always kept in touch during their pro career. Often exchanging calls and texts a couple of times a month. Eventually the two retired within months of each other. Both players significantly influenced the way youth played the game. The two remain two of the most exciting players to ever play in their respective sports. While both athletes faced their share of problems, each would face their demons. Both were able to overcome their mistakes, learn from them and ultimately have an enormous amount of success. Pretty good for a couple of kids that grew up on the backroads of West Virginia.
23 Epic Michael Jordan Tails In honor of next years 20 hour Michael Jordan documentary we bring you some of the best stories from Jordan legend. These stories ares quintessential Michael Jordan. 23 Stories that Proved Michael Jordan’s scary psychotic competitive level. Ten stories that prove Michael Jordan may have been a religious figure. Way past competitive to maybe a psychotic level. These stories some up Jordan’s competitive fire and nature. Several of these stories come from ex-teammates and the old Bulls assistant Johnny Bach.
1) Counting Backwards When Steve Smith was in his second season, he felt particularly good when he mentioned to a reporter that he was the best in the league at stopping Michael Jordan. After Jordan hit his first basked of the game, he simply told Smith “48”. After he dropped his next bucket he told the swingman “46”. Yep, you guessed it he counted all the way down to zero, ending the game with a total of 48 points.
2) USA Team vs NBA Stars During the 1984 NBA draft Michael Jordan was selected 3rd overall by the Chicago Bulls. At the time, he was playing with team USA who was being coached by Bobby Knight in Bloomington, Indiana. During the trials, team USA had scheduled a series of games to take on the NBA stars. The USA team featured the likes of . They would go on to play the NBA players in 5 different games. During the first game Jordan embarrassed the team of NBA veteran set by the league office. The NBA league took note and sent several all pro players like Kevin McHale, Magic Johnson, Isiah Thomas, Larry Bird and Robert Parish. The second game was far more intense as several pros took shots at Jordan, including Mike Dunleavy, who threw an elbow then commented Jordan wasn’t shit. Jordan then lost his mind, preceding to show the world what was to come. The next three games Jordan absolutely dominated the NBA team winning each game they played. During the time coaching Jordan, head coach Knight initially thought “how could I start a two guard that can’t shoot. He eventually wavered to say that “ this Jordan good is going to be pretty good.” After team USA finished their exhibition series against the NBA stars, Knight said “He’s going to be the greatest player in the history of basketball”. Of course Knight would prove to be correct.
3) Welcome to the NBA Steve Kerr Steve Kerr was just starting his NBA career when he had a quick run-in with Jordan. In a preseason game with Cleveland, Kerr had a court side seat as the game started. He caught the eye of Mr. Jordan, Michael caught the ball on the wing in front of Kerr. He palmed the ball and then looked directly at Steve Kerr and said “Watch This”. Jordan turned baseline, got by his defender and finished a vicious two hand jam over 7’1 center Brad Dougherty.
4) UNC Card Games Michael’s one time college teammate Buzz Peterson has a story that doesn't exactly make Jordan the most ethical figure. Buzz caught MJ trying to cheat his own mother in a card game back on the campus at Chapel Hill during his sophomore season. Peterson waited until no one was in the room to ask him, “Michael are you that competitive that you have to cheat my own mother out of a card game”.
5) Labradford Smith Story On March 19, 1993 LaBradford Smith went bonkers hitting 15-20 shots in route to 37 points against the Chicago Bulls. Michael Jordan claimed that Smith mocked him post game saying “Nice game, Mike.” Jordan wanted all 37 of his points back in the first half of their next meeting. They happened to play the next night in the Capital Center. Jordan started the game with16 straight points, eventually he finished the first half with 36 points. Years later Jordan admitted he made up the whole “nice game” comments. The best part of the story was that opposing Bullets players were in such awe of Jordan, Smith never denied the comments. In the post game interviews Jordan said, “That was a very embarrassing situation for me. Evidently I didn’t respect the guy and he’s certainly capable of putting up some numbers, and he did. Offensively, it wasn’t going for me and I let that effect my defensive effort and that’s something I will improve on. I look forward to the challenge”. According to some journalists close to the team, he also promised to score 37 points, LaBradford’s total, in the first half of the next game.
6) 200,000 Rock Paper scissors. Jordan apparently used to wager $20,000 on a single match of everyone's favorite childhood game. According to his former teammate Jay Williams, Mike would consistently bet money playing 'rock, paper, scissors.’ Sometimes, these games made their way up to six-figures.
7) Jordans Pre Arranged Bets His airiness would show up really early to get his shots up on game day. As a shot, he noticed the gatehouse staff doing a run dry through everything. He sees the three-color dot race up on the scoreboard. The story is he goes up to the PA system guys and asks “You already know who’s going to win the color race”. The guy responded thats the red one is going to win the race. Eventually when the game rolled around and the race game came on the scoreboard he turned to Scottie Pippen. Mike tells Scottie 100 bucks on the red one. Of course Mike collects his payment and precedes to do this practice for the rest of the season.
8) The airport gambling prank During his days with the Bulls, he would bet with his teammates on whose luggage would come out first at the airport. Jordan would alway pre arrange for the airport security to bring his luggage out first. So Jordan won the majority if not all of those bets.
9) His strategy while playing against Charles Barkley in the Finals. During the 1993 NBA Finals between the Bulls and the Suns, Michael Jordan and Charles Barkley agreed to play a game of golf together the day before game four. The pair played 48 holes, and Jordan gifted Charles with $20,000 diamond earrings. When asked why the gift, Jordan responded with, "He won't get in my way the rest of the series, what's $20,000 to me? Charles thinks we're great friends. I hate that fat f*ck." After the golf match, MJ scored 55 points in game 4.
10) Mj embarrassed top HS prospect OJ Mayo at age 43 During one summer in at UCSB top high school prospect OJ Mayo showed up to Michael Jordan’s basketball camp. The schoolboy legend had a huge following at the time. He challenged 'His Airness' in front of the whole crow. That’s when MJ dismissed the attendees early, except for Mayo. Jordan proceeded to dominated the teenager, all while talking trash as only Mike can. "You better scream for momma. Mom-ma, mom-ma!" According to Mayo, Jordan preached..."Hey, young fella, let me tell you something. You may be the best high school player in the world, but I’m the greatest ever. Don’t you ever disrespect the great like that."
11) Ping Pong MJ once lost a game of ping pong to his teammate on the Chicago Bulls. The story goes that he absolutely lost his mind, bought a table the very next days. He immediately spent the next six months training every day. He trained for ping-pong both at home and at the Bulls facility until he beat the player in a rematch.
12) Muggsy Bouges According to ex Bulls assistant coach Johnny Bach, their 1995 playoff series against the Charlotte Hornets was capped by a signature Jordan moment. On the biggest possession of the game, Muggsy had the ball with the Hornets down 1. Jordan backed off of him and told him: 'shoot it you f*cking midget.' Muggsy shot it, and didn't come close. A year later, Muggsy actually told Johnny Bach he believes that single play ruined his career.
13) Golf With Chuck Dailey After losing to Dream Team coach Chuck Daly in a golf match, Jordan forced his way into Chuck's hotel room the next morning by pounding on the door nonstop, demanding a rematch. He wouldn't leave until he got dressed to play. MJ went on to win the second game.
14) The Michael-Kobe Dinner The two best shooting guards in NBA history sat down for dinner after their playing careers were over in a Beverly Hills Steakhouse. Although not much was known about the topics of conversation, one story did manage to see daylight. Jordan compared his year in 1991, to Kobe’s peak year and suggesting he would have kicked Bryant’s ass. To which Kobe replied that Jordan should just enjoy the salad.
15) Rodney McCray A former teammate said “he's the most viciously competitive player I’ve ever seen. He has practically ruined forward Rodney McCray for us”. When the two players are on opposing team in scrimmages Jordan is in his face, screaming “Your a loser! You’ve always been a loser!’. Rodney can hardly put up a jump shot snow”. McCray ended up winning a title that year but only averaged 15.9 minutes per game. It was also the last season he ever player.
16) Pre Game Victory Celebration Chris Webb tells a story from his days with the Washington Bullets in 1997. They were ready to take on the Chicago Bulls in the first round of the NBA playoffs. Webber remarked “I saw Michael Jordan come into our locker room with a cigar, while it was lit, and said, ‘Who’s going to check me tonight?’ And we looked at Calbert Chaney and we were laughing like little school kids knowing that Calbert Chaney was going to get him, we knew it wasn’t a game for Mike. Game 3 we get off the bus and I’ll never forget, Jordan was sitting on his Ferrari and Pippen was right there and they have a cigar lit. We get off the bus and we have to pass them with a lit cigar.”
17) Two Left Shoes Alongside Jordan on the 92 Dream Team roster was Clyde Drexler. Drexler's Blazers had just lost to Jordan's Bulls earlier that summer in the NBA finals. In addition Jordan had completely cemented his position as best SG in history, a title that many had thought would be Drexler's just a few years earlier. That summer Drexler brings two left shoes to practice on accident. He is so fearful of what Jordan will say to him about forgetting a shoe that he wears the two left shoes for the entire practice.
18) Reggie Theus “He was really mad at Reggie Theus, because when Reggie got traded, Michael was the draft pick coming in and Reggie was like “there’s no one that can replace me that’s a rookie”. So MJ said, just tell Reggie I’m gonna get 45 tonight. So i went to the locker room and said “Reggie, Michael said he’s gonna get 45 tonight.” “So he ended up with 43, he comes into the locker room, and said I didn’t get 45 but you gotta come to Chicago, he was mad that he didn’t get 45!”.
19) Your Wearing My Shoes Dumbass During the 1996-1997 season, while Jim Jackson was on the Nets, Jackson was enjoying a good game against Michael Jordan and the defending champion Chicago Bulls. Jackson was talking trash to Jordan who shut up Jackson by pointing out that “Your wearing my shoes dumbs”.
20) Stacey King - I got Jokes Stacey King walked into the locker room holding a box with a big smile on his face. All Jordan said was "Hope there's a jump shot in that box”.
21) Minor League Jordan A member of the Birmingham Barons had this story about Jordan. There was a rain delay during one of their games and the players were all hanging out in the dugout waiting for the storm to pass. A few of the players noticed some cockroaches crawling around the dugout and watched them race around. Jordan sees the commotion and comes over to see what the noise is. He tells the team he's gonna bet $500 on one of the cockroaches.They pooled all the money together and got the cockroaches ready to start. They lifted the barricade and as soon as they do Jordan squashes the teams cockroach, picks up their $500 and walks away.
22) Give Me The Ball In Game 5 of the 1989 playoffs against Cleveland. Bulls are down 1, last possession. Doug collins calls time out. Everyone knows the ball is going to Michael. Collins draws up a play to use MJ as a decoy and get the ball down in the post to Dave Corzine. Jordan slaps the clipboard of the coach's hand and says "Just give me the fucking ball.” Jordan makes the shot, and the Bulls win the game.
23) Mj Golfing Tales One of Michael’s supposed friends wrote the book Michael & Me: Our Gambling Addiction...My Cry For Help! Jordan said of the book "I felt I was betrayed by this individual,”. “I don't consider him a friend, because friends don't do this to other friends.” The book told a story of Jordan running up a $1.2 million debt over a ten-day golf binge in San Diego—a debt Jordan supposedly played down to $908,000, negotiated down to $300,000, and ultimately paid $200,000. Charles Barkley told a story of Jordan putting for the small sum of $300,000.
We came up with the 10 best high school basketball teams of all time. The list includes teams as far back as 1952 and as recent as 2016. In addition, the list features several different regions of the United States. What are the teams judged off? Star power, strength of schedule, coaching, points differential and overall chemistry. Enjoy, drop us a comment and let us know who we missed.
1) 1981-1982 Dunbar (Baltimore, MD) (29-0) Players:Mugsy Bouges (NBA), Reggie Lewis (NBA), Reggie Williams (NBA), David Wingate (NBA), Gary Grahm (UNLV), Tim Dawson (Miami), Keith James (UNLV), Darryl Woods (Virginia Union), Mike Brown (Clemson), Jerry White Notable Wins: Camden (NJ), DeMatha (MD), John Caroll (MD), Flint Hill (VA), Cardinal Gibbons Head Coach:Bob Wade Here comes trouble, no question the Dunbar Poets are number one on the list. Their team was an unstoppable force going a combined 60-0 from 1982 to 1984. Arguably, the greatest collection of high school talent ever assembled on one roster. Subjects of the book Boys of Dunbar, the Poets had three future first round NBA draft picks in Reggie Williams, who was the national player of the year as a senior, point guard Muggsy Bogues and Reggie Lewis, who was actually a reserve player on the 1982 and 1983 team. The statistical calculations of 3 players drafted in the first round on the same high school team is 4,037,639 to 1. The media ranked Calvert Hall number 1 and Dunbar number 3 to begin the season. Camden of New Jersey was sandwiched in between at 2, Calvert Hall beat Camden in Philly by 5. Dunbar beat Camden at Camden by 29. But Calvert Hall and Dunbar were not scheduled to play that year and never did. Baltimore Sun ran an article called "The Greatest Game Never Played”. Dunbar played many of the top teams in the country and won by an average of 30 points. Included among those games, was a 29-point victory over New Jersey powerhouse Camden. Throughout the season no one really came within single digits of Dunbar. When Dunbar ventured up to Camden, the fans were laughing at 5-foot-3 point guard Muggsy Bogues, but the Poets led by 33 points at halftime and won 84-59 to end a 17-year Camden home winning streak. Wingate had 37 points against Camden, while Muggsy finished with 15. They won both the Lake Clifton Tourney and the Cap City Classic. Virginia’s Flint Hill had the pleasure and misfortune of encountering Dunbar on an “on” night. Flint Hill was rated in the Top 25 nationally. To accommodate the overflow crowd, the dream matchup was held at Morgan State College. 5 Flint Hill players later went on to D1 programs, it didn’t matter as Flint Hill got embarrassed in front of all those fans. They also beat famed powerhouse DeMatha of Maryland (67-55). Following the Dematha game they blew out John Caroll high school. While they finished the season ranked #2 behind Calvert Hall, most real experts agreed the Dunbar squad was the best team in 1982. The 1982-1983 season following David Wingate’s and Gary Grahm’s graduation, saw Dunbar named national champions after another undefeated season (31-0). The teams floor general 5-3 Mugsy Bouges was one of the most unique basketball players to ever take the court. His stifling full court defense and constant ball pressure gave opposing players nightmares. Bouges was a confident leader on the court, running the offense like a symphony. The 5-3 lead guard would go on to be the shortest player ever selected in the first round of the NBA draft. Reggie Williams was the squads top prospect, the 6-7 forward was a future NBA lottery pick. Dunbar coach Bob Wade said, “Williams is like E.F. Hutton, when he speaks, the other guys listen.” Williams averaged 24.3 ppg and 12 rpg as a junior. He also shot over 90% from the free throw line. Famed scout Howie Garfinkel called Williams, “the kind of athletes candy bars are named after”. Reggie Williams had the perfect mixture of athleticism and touch. The future Georgetown Hoya was the primary scorer on the team and he was incredible while slashing to the hoop. Williams also had a lethal mid-range jump shot. During his senior season, USA Today voted Reggie the National High School Player of the Year. The pair of senior stars at guard, Georgetown bound All-American David Wingate and UNLV commit Gary Grahm supplied leadership to the Poet team. Wingate won a national championship in college and went on to a multi year NBA career. He was known for his pressure defense and his explosive offensive game. Grahm was a shooting threat who also supplied pressure defense. Junior Reggie Lewis was the best kept secret on Dunbar, the future NBA All-Star lacked the hype of some of his teammates. But Lewis was an electric scorer off the bench for the Poets, providing several timely baskets. The teams bench may have been the greatest of all time. 6-6 junior Tim Dawson started a handful of games and helped the Poets inside with his great leaping ability. Future Clemson commit, Mike Brown also came off the bench as a 6-4 guard. 5-7 Virginia Union commit Darryl Woods also came off the bench. The future UNLV guard Keith James came off the bench with Lewis, Dawson, Brown and 5-7 Woods. Coach Wade was a strict disciplinarian, who ran practices like a boot camp. He knew that his team was going to need a whole new set of standards to live by, other than what they had been exposed to in life. Coach Wade had a special corporal punishment regiment he would impose on the players for infractions, ranging from cutting class, to missing the open wing man on the fast break. The "ghetto dun-bells" were bricks wrapped in tape and Poet practice jerseys for padding. Upon rule violation, players could be seen and heard doing jumping jacks and cross-country runs, with their bricks in hand. Wade felt the "ghetto dun-bells" gave his players stronger legs and wrists than their opponents. Above all, he believed in defense and pressure. He tried to instill in his players the same discipline he learned from Vince Lombardi as a defensive halfback for the Washington Redskins in 1969. Those selfless messages got repeated over and over at practice. Wingate insists Dunbar practices were harder than games. They were definitely longer. Practice started at 4 and went until the team got things right. “Sometimes we’d practice till 10:30, 11 at night,” A mind blowing collection of talent when you take into account all 12 players grew up within 7 miles of one another. A far cry from the prep teams and loaded private school teams of the present. There have been severaldocumentaries made about this team, including Baltimore's Boys from ESPN. A public school team will never again match the pure talent of the 82 Poets.
2) 1992-1993 Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, VA) (36-0) Players: Jerry Stackhouse (NBA), Jeff McGinnis (NBA), Mark Blount (NBA), Makhtar NDiaye (NBA), Alex Sanders (Louisville), Curtis Staples (Virginia), Jermaine Smith (UNLV), Mike Brittan (Memphis), Tavares Johnson (Xavier) Notable Wins: Rice (NY), Charlotte Christian (NC), Artesia (CA), Crenshaw (CA) Head Coach:Steve Smith 36-0 on their way to USA Today National Champions, they blew out opponents by an average of 32 points. Oak Hill’s best and deepest team of all time. This might have been the team that started the upward trend toward loaded prep school basketball. The 1993 team held the distinction at playing during a time when loaded prep schools and academies were mostly a thing of the future. Coach Steve Smith said it best “Our 2004 team was really good but that, 93 team might be the best team we’ve ever had.” “They were all high division 1 players, I really didn't have a problem keeping them happy. “We had probably two players at every position,” Smith said. “The depth we had was more than on any other team we’ve had. We had four Division I players that didn’t start, but they all bought into their role.” Smith is one of the top high school coaches of all time, and has led his teams to more than 5 mythical national championships. The most hyped team of the decade, they routinely received ink in multiple national newspapers every week. They were only tested twice all season. They obliterated multiple teams, including a 96-8 victory again John Battle High School. Led by the McDonald’s All-American tandem of Jeff McGinnis and Jerry Stackhouse. Stackhouse was one of the top 3 players in the nation, he recently transferred from Kinston, North Carolina. The swingman went on to a borderline hall-of-fame career in the NBA. As a senior in 1993 Stackhouse averaged 28 points and 12 rebounds. Many thought that Stackhouse was the best guard prospect since Michael Jordan. McGinnis paced the team with 8 assist per game, while chipping in 14 points per game. Both McGinnis and Stackhouse went on to play at North Carolina. Oak Hill had one of the best front lines in the history of high school basketball. Highlighted by future NBA players Mark Blount and Makhtar NDiaye. Blount was an elite rim protector, routinely intimidating the opposing team. Their role players were top notch, including Alex Sanders, Curtis Staples, Jermaine Smith, Mike Brittan and Tavares Johnson. The bench filled with high divsion-1 players, was one of the greatest second units of all time. Their interior muscle was overwhelming, as Sanders, N’diaye, and Johnson each tipped the scales at 240+ lbs. At the Holiday Prep Classic in Las Vegas, that beat up teams that included prep legend Felipe Lopez and his Rice HS squad from NYC, as well as many of the best teams from California. That team filled Oak Hill’s little 400-seat Turner Gymnasium with SRO crowds that ballooned closer to 900 many wearing Tar Heel blue whenever Oak Hill played marquee games.
3) 1988-1989 St. Anthony (Jersey City, NJ) (32-0) Players:Bobby Hurley (NBA), Terry Dehere (NBA), Rodrick Rhodes (NBA), Jerry Walker (Seton Hall) Danny Hurley (Seton Hall), Sean Rooney (Duquesne), Felix Ortiz (Radford), Woodrow Williams (Buffalo), Lamont Street (Wagner) Notable Wins: Miami Senior (FL), Flint Hill (VA), Elizabeth (NJ), Artesia (CA), Archbishop Molloy (NY), Tolentine (NY), Cardinal Hayes (NY), Christian Brothers Academy (NJ) Head Coach:Bob Hurley There are several unique traits of the 1989 St. Anthony squad. The school has no home gym, they have no scholarships to give out and the enrollment for students was just over 300. Led by Legendary coach Bob Hurley and three future NBA first round draft picks. The 89 team was Hall-of-Fame coach Hurley’s greatest collection of talent. Only 2 of the 32 wins, were not by double digit margins. The Friars' average winning margin of 28 points, and it's easy to see why they were voted national high school basketball champions by USA Today and Street & Smith's. The 1989 squad featured Bobby Hurley (son of the coach), Terry Dehere and Rodrick Rhodes, each of whom was a first-round NBA draft pick. Hurley was New Jersey's premier guard, and one of the best in the country. Eventually he would excel in college at Duke, leading the Blue Devils to the Final Four 3 times. Rodrick Rhodes was a bonafide guard nationally and one of the top athletes in his high school class. Rhodes was merely a freshman, but his talent was clear. By the time he was a senior, he was a top-five recruit in the country, and eventually slid into the starting lineup at the University of Kentucky as a true freshman. Dehere was a key scorer and long range shooter for the Friars. He was good enough as a senior to earn a scholarship to Seton Hall. He finished his collegiate career with almost 2,500 points and a trip to the Final 4. Jerry Walker, who played for Seton Hall, was an intimidating forward. At 6-7 and 240 pounds, Walker displayed the physical attributes and aggressiveness atypical of high school post players. He was one of the nation's best forwards, and helped the Pirates win two Big East titles. The center position was manned by Sean Rooney and Felix Ortiz, who were both 6-7. Guards Woodrow Williams, Lamont Street and Darren Savino rounded out the team for the friars. Another important bench player was sophomore Danny Hurley (Bobby’s brother), the future college star helped contribute off the bench with his phenomenal offensive game. That '89 season saw St. Anthony win three national tournaments and defeat teams from 10 different states. The Friars beat nationally-acclaimed Miami Senior and Flint Hill. They also knocked off state rivals Elizabeth and Christian Brothers. That year, the Friars won their own Skyline Classic tournament, defeating Artesia of California, a team that featured Ed O’Bannon and an Archbishop Molloy team featured a young Kenny Anderson. The Friars also defeated New York powers such as Tolentine and Cardinal Hayes. They also became the first New Jersey team to win the season-ending Tournament of Champions, which matches all the divisional winners in the state. They beat rival Elizabeth in multiple games during the year. The team finished with the legionary number 1 ranking in the nation. The Miami Senior win (68-55) came on a late run with Bobby Hurley limited by an ankle injury. Against powerhouse Flint Hill Prep (64-45), St. Anthony's blew them out by 20. They sold out practically every gym they played in that season. "I remember walking around my neighborhood with TV cameras following me around," recalled Walker. "It was such a big story at the time because we didn't have a gym and we were the No. 1 team in the country. I remember being on Regis & Kathie Lee, just getting so much exposure. Dateline, People Magazine. It was crazy. We were like rock stars.” At the end of the season the St. Anthony's win streak reached 50.
4) 2005-2006 Lawrence North (Indianapolis, IN) (29-0) Players:Mike Conley (NBA), Greg Oden (NBA), Stephen Van Treese (Louisville), Damian Windham (Chicago St.), Notable Wins: Dunbar (OH), Proviso East (IL), Pike, Franklin Central, North Central, Glenbrook North (IL) Coach:Jack Keefer In 2003, Greg Oden and Mike Conley became the first freshmen to start for head coach Jack Keefer and the two have been linked ever since. After back-to-back state titles, 2006 had all the makings of a dream season. They became the first Indiana team to win the mythical national championship since Cripus Attucks in 1955. The season prior the Wildcats finished with a 24-2 record, winning the last 16 games of the season. The Wildcats might have had the best inside/outside duo in high school history. They made their way through a vaunted national schedule to reach a 31-0 mark. Lawrence North beat up on Dunbar (Ohio) featuring five-star guard Daequan Cook in a nationally televised game. The game was held at Butler University and was a blowout from the tipoff. They played another game on ESPN2, as they took on future pro Eric Gordon and North Central. They embarassed Franklin featuring future NBA big man Juwan Johnson. Another marquee out-of-state match-up against Jon Scheyer and Glenbrook North in Evanston, Ill. The Wildcats went on the road and beat the nationally-ranked Spartans in front of a capacity crowd. By the end of season their winning streak had reached 45 games. "Oden was the best big man that Indiana's ever had, and Conley's the best point guard Indiana's ever had,” a local writer would comment. Regarded by many as the top high school basketball player in America, many thought Oden was the most dominant big since Shaquille O’Neal. The 7-foot center dominated the post for four seasons and was a runaway IndyStar Mr. Basketball. He helped Ohio State reach the national championship game in his one season there. He was the pied piper in Indy and puts the sold out sign on the ticket office everywhere he goes. As a senior, Oden averaged 22.1 points, 10.5 rebounds and 3.5 blocks per game while shooting 74 percent from the floor. Don't forget about Mike Conley. The future NBA All-Star was a blur with the ball in his hands, he remained a consistent force for the Wildcats. As a senior, the point guard averaged 16.5 points and 4.2 assists. Conley and Oden would star together at Ohio State as Freshman, where they led the Buckeyes to the 2007 NCAA tournament title game. 6-5 Damian Windham was a solid contributor from the wing for the Wildcats. Brandon McDonald was a defensive player who locked up opposing teams top offensive players. Future Louisville Cardinal Stephen Van Treese backed up Oden at center. The Wildcats won three Class 4A championships in a row, going 72-4 along the way. A sellout crowd of 18,345 at Conseco Field house witnessed history as Lawrence North became only the third team to win three consecutive state titles. In the championship game they rolled over Muncie Central 80-56. Greg Oden had 26 points and Mike Conley went for 21. The team was even the subject of a book Uncaged: The Rise of Greg Oden, Mike Conley, and the National Champion Lawrence North Wildcats by Dave Krider. In the illustrious history of Indiana basketball, no team has been better over a three-year stretch. The facts remain the Wildcats lost just four games in three years, beat opponents by nearly 20 points a game, won three straight state championships and were named national champions for the 2005-06 season.
5) 1989-1990 Southwestern (Detroit, MI) (30-1)* Players:Jalen Rose (NBA), Vashon Lenard (NBA), Howard Eisley (NBA), Garland Mance (St. Bonaventure), Elton Carter (Penn State) Notable Wins: Saginaw, Cooley, Pershing Head Coach:Perry Watson After title game losses in 7 of the previous 8 seasons, Southwestern finally delivered coach Watson's first championship in the 1990 State Finals. Senior Howard Eisley and junior Voshon Lenard were sensational in their own right, but it was Jalen Rose who starred for the Prospectors. Aside from the big three, they had plenty of division one talent up an down the roster. 8 of the players on the roster went on to play d-1 basketball. Perry Watson’s 1991 squad, which featured seniors Jalen Rose and Voshon Lenard, may have gotten the recognition as the country’s top team. But it was the school’s 1990 squad, that featured Rose, Leonard, and senior Eisley, that laid the groundwork for the national acclaim. The team was as disciplined and hard working as any team ever. They would run around the school, even hallways on rainy days. Words were rarely exchanged if a loss did occur. And you can be assured they would practice that night. Three of the best players in the state of Michigan, and in the country. "That 1990 team would rip your face off before they let you score a basket," said T.C. Cameron, an expert on Michigan high school sports. They also played in Detroit at a time in which the Detroit Public School League, was among the best in the nation. During his high school years, Jalen Rose led the Prospectors to state titles his junior and senior seasons. Over his 14-year NBA career, he totaled over 13,000 points. In his junior season, the versatile 6-7 Rose averaged 18 points, 6 assists and 8 rebounds. Rose played mostly point guard and forward for the Prospectors. An interesting side note to this team, Chris Webber was anticipated to enroll at Southwestern as a freshman in 1988 (instead enrolling at Detroit Country Day). Junior guard Voshon Lenard was a long-range shooting specialist who was part of back-to-back state title teams at Southwestern. At 6-5, Lenard had good enough size and athleticism to land a scholarship for Minnesota. He went on to star in the NBA, where he scored over 6,700 points. Howard Eisley was the senior leader of the Prospectors. The 6-2 guard was a lethal shooter and tough defender. As one of the top players in the state Eisley routinely drilled clutch shots for the Prospectors. He would go on to play in the 1997 and 1998 NBA Finals with the Utah Jazz. St Bonaventure commit Garland Mance was a role player for Southwestern. The 6-4 forward provided depth for the state champions. Mance went on to a successful college career at St. Bonaventure, averaging double digit points for his career. Elton Carter played on the inside for the Prospectors, before playing in the Big 10 at Penn State. Their state championship game was both a celebration and triumph. After head coach Watson struggled to win the big one, Southwestern prevailed with a 67-54 victory over Saginaw. The program was controversial because rival coaches accused Watson of recruiting players, a charge the coach has always denied. In the broader view, it hardly mattered. City kids were succeeding. Few could argue that Watson wasn’t a positive influence. This team was so talented that legendary Yankee Derek Jeter claimed to have played this team in high school, after the game he simply decided basketball wasn't his sport.
6) 2013-2014 Montverde Academy (Mont, FL) (27-1)* Players:DeAngelo Russell (NBA), Ben Simmons (NBA), Justin Bibbs (Virginia Tech), Jayln Patterson (LSU), Jordan Caroline (Nevada), Chris Egi (Harvard), Ifeanyi Umezurike (St. Francis). Ahmaad Rorie (Oregon), Christ Koumadje (Florida St.), Makinde London (Chattanoga), Ifeanyi Umezurike (Saint Francis) Notable Wins: Norcross (GA), Providence School (FL), Lincoln (NY), Paul VI (VA), Christ the King(NY), Roselle Catholic (NJ), Huntington Prep (WV), Oak Hill Head Coach:Kevin Boyle Beginning in the early 90’s several powerhouse prep schools started to gain stream, schools with the ability to recruit talent nationally. This may have been one of the best prep school rosters ever assembled, led by the unstoppable combination of future NBA lottery picks DeAngelo Russell and Ben Simmons. Along with 2 top-3 NBA picks, came a roster loaded with 8 division-one prospects. Legendary coach Kevin Boyle continued his dominance, posting a 27-1 record. All while facing a daunting national schedule. Ben Simmons helped guide Florida's Montverde Academy to three consecutive National High School Invitational championships. Simmons and Russell became roommates and together led the school to national championships in 2013 and 2014. Russell recalls a young Simmons. "Ben's always been as good as he is," Russell said. "Off the court, you could never guess how old he was. On the court, his game was very mature back then.” The 6-foot-10 Simmons came into the NBA touted as a point-forward. His versatility, passing skills and playmaking instinct were apparent as a teenager. As a junior in 2014, Ben Simmons posted 18.5 points, 9.6 rebounds and 2.7 assists. The future number 1 overall pick was the star of the 2014 NHSI championship game, scoring 24 points, grabbing 12 rebounds and dishing out five assists in his team's 71-62 victory over Oak Hill Academy. DeAngelo Russell attended Central High School in Louisville before transferring to Montverde Academy for his sophomore season. In 2014, he helped Montverde win back-to-back High School National Tournament championships. He later played in the McDonald's All-American Game and Jordan Brand Classic. Russell averaged 19.3 points, 4.7 assists and 3.6 rebounds per game as a senior. The guard became the first player in the school’s history to have his jersey and number retired. Future NCAA tournament star Jordan Caroline mostly played inside for the Eagles. The son of NFL star Simeon Rice had a big senior season averaging 14 points and 7 rebounds. The future Nevada star was one of the more slept on recruits in the 2013 class. He went to Nevada where he would score over 1,700 points and 600 rebounds before entering his senior season. Senior Justin Bibbs started at guard for the Eagles before going on to play for the University of Virginia Tech. He currently plays in the NBA’s developmental league. Jayln Patterson went on to play at LSU after his prep career. Chris Egi a 6-7 forward went on to play at Harvard. Both Egi and Patterson were key contributors off the bench for the Eagles. When it comes to strength of schedule, this team ranks first of all time. The Eagles’ championship at Dick’s Nationals capped off a season in which it beat 16 teams that were at some point ranked or included in the final FAB 50. They routed Oak Ridge in a nationally televised ESPN game 93-57. At the Bass Pro tournament they beat Village Christian, Christ the King and White Station. The won the vaunted City of the Palms tournament by defeating Milton, Lincoln, Providence School and Paul VI. Additional signature wins came over Huntington Prep, Roselle Catholic, Wheeler, Norcross and Sagemont. They faced off with Karl Anthony Towns and his St. Jospeh team from New Jersey, before prevailing 79-70. In a controversial game they took on Curie Metro Chicago featuring five star Cliff Alexander. If it weren't for a loss to Curie at the Spalding Hoophall Classic that was later ruled a forfeit, this team would be higher on this list. In the opening rounds of the National High School Tournament they beat national power Huntington Prep. The Eagles defeated No. 3 Oak Hill Academy 71-62 in the finals of the National High School Tournament to capture their second consecutive mythical national title.
7) 1978-1979 Southwest (Macon,GA) (28-0) Players:Jeff Malone (NBA), Terry Fair (Georgia), Michael Hunt, Bobby Jones (Western Kentucky), Hook McCarthy, Eric Hightower (GA Southern), Notable Wins: Oak Hill Academy, Northeast Macon, Bristol (TN), Vanguard (FL), St Johns (DC), Baylor Prep (TN) Coach:Duck Richardson Southwest Macon may have been the best kept secret in the history of high school basketball. The engine of the team was head coach Duck Richardson, once described by one of his players as “The Black Hitler”. The Southwest team single handily changed the perception of basketball in the south. They ran the table to win their second straight state title. Every key player from the 1978 state title team was returning in 1979. Southwest set out to be the first team from the south to win a national championship in basketball. Led by 3 of the best players the state has ever produced, Southwest packed arenas across the East Coast and South. They were not overly big, but the Pats were abundantly skilled and stocked with talent. Future NBA All-Star Jeff Malone was a bonafied scorer that averaged over 20 points per game for over 13 seasons in the NBA. The 6-foot-4 Malone taunted opponents with his silky-smooth jump shot, shooting out to 25 feet. Malone went on to break the all-time scoring record at Mississippi State University, was a lottery pick in the 1983 NBA Draft, and a two-time All-Star. In 13 NBA seasons, he averaged over 19 points per game, shot 51 percent from the field, 81 percent from the free-throw line, and was a certified lock-down defender. Malone had been groomed since his freshman season to be the teams scorer, he did not disappoint leading the team in scoring during the 1979 season. A 6-8 physical specimen and McDonald’s All-American selection, Terry Fair could run like a deer. On offense he could finish above the rim and alter shots on defense. Fair went on to play at the University of Georgia, where he set several scoring and rebounding records. He led the Bulldogs to the 1983 Final Four. Malone and Fair would become high school All-Americans in ’79. While Fair and Malone were spectacular, but it was Michael Hunt who was the team’s unquestioned leader. The 6-4 lead guard was an extension of coach duck on the floor. A gritty swingman, Hunt was the coach on the floor and an extension of Duck, and he took extreme pride in his role. Bobby Jones was the 5’10 junior point guard who contributed a nice blend of scoring and distributing. Jones played college ball at Western Kentucky and set the all-time assists and steals record for a number of years until they were broken. Henry “Hook” McCarthy was a 6’3 junior power forward that was an X-factor on the team. Other complementary players included 6’2 guard Clint Whitehead, 6’4 big man Alonzo “Mickey” Patrick, Carl “Ironhead” Tyler, Glenn Harden and Eric Hightower, a top-tier athlete with noticeable jumping ability that helped him land a basketball scholarship at Georgia Southern University. Don “Duck” Richardson was the harshest disciplinarian in all of high school basketball, often compared to Indiana general Bobby Knight. Duck had no place for egos on his team, and he had neither the time nor the tolerance for self-pity. The stories about Duck seem fictional but the coach went on to win 8 titles in his time at Southwest. Duck was doing things way before other coaches and trainers. He would routinely run full-court passing drills while players wore weighted vest and threw 50-pound weighted balls to each other at full speed to rebounding/box-out drills to three-man weaves to defensive slides. Terry Fair commented “We trained like no other team ever trained. His work ethic…I’ve never seen anything like it. For me, I call him the Black Hitler. Fatigue was not an option. Ask any guy from that era and there say the games were much easier than the practices.” Fair shared a story so cruel and so unusual we had to share it “This man made me get out of the shower and do line drills butt-naked,” says an animated Fair. “Hell yeah, that man crazy.” At a time when teams didn’t play a national schedule, the Patriots looked to challenge themselves facing several out of state opponents. They slaughtered vaunted Oak Hill Academy by 51 and whipped St. John's, Bristol, Vanguard and Baylor Prep in a burly out-of-state schedule. They won back to back state tournament games 82-45 and 104-57. They beat their rival Northeast Macon, 4 times during the year. Still the last playoff matchup got close. Southwest ended up victorious in a 69-60 contest. The Southwest-Northeast rivalry hit its apex in 1979 as both were legitimate state championship-caliber teams. They were one of the first high schools to be sponsored by Nike. Coach Richardson was one of the first coaches to work the famous Nike All-American camp that took place in Georgia. Sonny Vaccaro got in contact with Coach Richardson and offered to pay for their warmup clothing and shoes. There's no questioning Southwest’s greatness, the teams average margin of victory was 29 in the regular season and 27.5 during the state playoffs. The team averaged over 88 points per game in an era without a 3-point line, their defense was stifling. The Patriots were loaded with 13 players who are said to have gone on to play college ball of some sort. When it was all said and done multiple players had success at the next level. They finished with the No. 1 overall ranking in the country capturing the first High School National Championship for a southern school.
8) 2015-2016 Chino Hills (Chino, CA) (35-0) Players:Lonzo Ball (NBA), Onyeka Okongwu (NBA), LaMelo Ball (Europe), LeAngelo Ball (UCLA), Eli Scott (LMU), Andre Ball (Pepperdine) Cameron Shelton (NAU), Notable Wins: Bishop Montgomery, Mater Dei, Montverde Academy (FL), Patrick School (NJ), Foothills Christian, Jefferson (NY), High Point Academy (NC), Bishop Gorman (NV), Coach: Steve Baik Led by the trio of the Ball brothers, the team had plenty of other talent on the roster. This team faced a national schedule which showcased their abundance of talent and depth. The team played at a blistering speed offensively, running their full court break. Chino Hills was one of the most exciting high school basketball teams of the 2000s, averaging 98 points per contest and tying the state record with 18 100-point games in 2015-6. McDonalds All-American and future NBA lottery pick Lonzo Ball was the unquestioned leader of the team. The pass first 6-6 point guard was drawing comparisons to Jason Kidd as early as his sophomore season. His senior season was something to behold, averaging over 25 points, 11 assists and 11 rebounds, 5 steals. He provided suffocating full-court defense for all four quarters. The team also includes his brothers LaMelo Ball (freshman) and LiAngelo Ball (junior) who is also committed to UCLA. Junior LiAngelo Ball averaged over 27 points as a junior. The little brother LaMelo had an outstanding freshman season averaging over 16 points and 4 assists. Chino was led inside by intimidating 6-8 freshman Onyeka Okongwu. The rising recruit led the team with 5 blocks per game. Okongwu's shot-blocking skills were game changing in the final month of the season. He went on to averaged 8 points, 7 rebound and 5 blocks as a freshman. A 5-star recruit of the 2019 class, Okongwu recently committed to play basketball for USC. 6-5 swingman Eli Scott contributed to the Huskies success. Scott helped with a bevy of showtime dunks and inside rebounding. He averaged over 15 points and 8 rebounds as a senior. The LMU signee would go on to average more than 12 points per game during his freshman season in college, a true sign of this teams depth. Sophomore and future Pepperdine commit Andre Ball was barely good enough to touch the floor for Chino only averaging 4 points per game. The Huskies captured a City of Palms Classic title while notching a signature win over Montverde Academy. The Huskies also beat Jefferson and The Patrick School to win the City of Palms Holiday Tournament. 3 days later the team traveled to another national tournament in the Maxpreps Holiday Classics. There they took down Seattle Prep, Milwaukee King and Redondo Union. They defeated seven preseason ranked FAB 50 teams after New Year’s, including No. 36 Bishop Montgomery 71-67 in one of California’s most anticipated regular-season games in recent memory. They beat Foothills Christian twice featuring 5-star recruit Tj Leaf. In February, they matched up with Nevada's top squad Bishop Gorman who featured 3 of the top bigs in the country. They were no match for Chino’s run and gun style, as the Huskies won 98-81. The California Open division playoff was especially tough in 2016, as Chino faced three top 50 opponents on their way to the state crown. No team from California ever played tougher national competition. In the CIF Southern Section Open Division semifinals they demolished a good Mater Dei team 102-54. Before beating down Sierra Canyon 105-83 and Foothills Christian 82-62. They once again beat Bishop Montgomery in the Southern California final. The state championship game saw them cruise over De La Salle 70-50. The state championship victory clinched a 35-0 season and assured a mythical national championship. It cemented the school's first state title and erased a bitter defeat in last year's Division I double-overtime championship loss. Considering the Huskies defeated 11 top 50 teams in the country this year, fans wondered if they are the best team in state history. Lonzo Ball had an answer ”We believed before the start of season we had the chance to be the best ever," he said. "Tonight sealed it in our minds.” Said Chino Hills coach Steve Baik, whose team scored at least 100 points 18 times, which tied a state record: "We have to be in the conversation. Our body of work is pretty impressive. Historians will need to take a hard look."
9) Cripus Attucks 1954-1955 (30-1) Players:Oscar Robertson (NBA), Albert Maxey (Nebraska), Willie Merriweather (Purdue) Notable Wins: Rosesevelt Gary, Northeast Macon, Bristol (TN), Milan (Hickory), Lafayette Jefferson Coach: Ray Crowe There were a ton of great achievements by this Oscar Robertson led Indiana state champ. "There's a lot of insensitivity still out there," Robertson said. "Because it's a black school, people just don't care. Nobody cares about black issues. And I simply won't stand for that. Not with what we accomplished.’" Oscar was probably the greatest high school and collegiate player to ever live. He led Attucks to 3 State titles in Indian’s vaunted state tournament. Aside from Robertson they had plenty of star power to match up with anyone. In 1954, Attucks lost in the state quarterfinals to eventual state champions Milan, whose story would later be the basis of the classic 1986 movie Hoosiers. In 1955, Attucks finished with a 30-1 record and the first ever state title for an all black starting five. In the 1955-1956 season they won a second straight Indiana state title, becoming the first team in Indiana to secure a perfect season and compiling a state-record 45 straight victories. The Tigers average margin of victory was 28 points in the regular season and 23 points during the tournament. The team played with pace and pressure defense never before seen in America. They were a new type of basketball team, and a very dominant one at that. At the time, Oscar Robertson was the greatest prep player in the history of basketball. The future NBA hall-of-famer went on to play for the University of Cincinnati where he was twice named the NCAA Player of the Year. Robertson dominated his high school career winning Indiana’s Mr. Basketball as a senior. Following the season he was named MVP of Indiana-Kentucky all-star game. Robertson was an Olympic team co-captain and was an innovator in the NBA by averaging a triple-double over a season. As a junior for Attucks, he averaged 24 points and 12 rebounds. Robertson ended his high school career by scoring 39 points before 15,000 fans at Butler Fieldhouse. Besides Robertson, the Tigers featured forward Willie Merriweather. As a senior in 1955, he averaged over 18 points per game. He would go on to star at Purdue and play semipro basketball. He was good enough to be elected into the Indiana State Basketball Hall of Fame. Guard Albert Maxey played basketball at Nebraska after his high school career. He was also elected to the Indiana State basketball Hall of Fame. Attucks played a in a time where Indiana’s state playoff had no size discrimination, meaning it was a one division open tournament. In the playoffs Attucks defeated New Albany 79–67 in the state semifinals. In the Championship game at Historic Hinkle Fieldhouse, Attucks rolled over Gary Rosesevelt 97-74. Robertson led the way with 30 points as Merriwather contributed 21 points. After their championship game wins, the team was paraded through town in a regular tradition, but they were then taken to a park outside downtown to continue their celebration, unlike other teams. Robertson stated, "[Officials] thought the blacks were going to tear the town up, and they thought the whites wouldn't like it. The Tigers were social pioneers, being the first African-American team to win a state basketball championship during a period in which they had difficulty finding opponents and accommodations. Immediately after winning the championship game, the team, cheerleaders and fans were denied the tradition of riding a firetruck and celebrating by riding around Monument Circle. The omission of the traditional celebration left the team’s players, including Basketball Hall of Fame member, Oscar Robertson, to conclude that they simply “weren’t wanted.” Their success changed things and went well beyond the realm of high school sports.” There is even a distinct piece of Attucks history at the Black History Museum. Spread between tributes to Martin Luther King Jr. and the Tuskegee Airmen is a letterman's jacket from the 1956 undefeated state champs and a medallion from the 1955 trailblazers. There are pictures and trophies, paintings and plaques commemorating everything the Crispus Attucks basketball teams of the 1950s were able to accomplish.
10) 1972-1973 DeMatha Catholic (Hytesville, MD) (30-1) Players:Adrian Dantley (NBA), Kenny Carr (NBA), Billy Langloh (Virginia), Ron Satterthwaite (William & Mary), Eric Coard (Nebraska), Buzzy O’Connell (Stetson), Vern Allen (Niagara), Notable Wins: St Johns, Gonzaga, Calvert Hall, Archbishop O’Connell, Paul VI Catholic Coach: Morgan Wootten DeMatha is a basketball institution led by gatekeeper Morgan Wooten. They play in one of the top conferences in America. Their dominance as a program has reached more than 50 seasons. The 1973 team was the best DeMatha ever had. This team had an unbelievable amount of size and discipline. They were headlined by the tandem of 6-6 Adrian Dantley and the 6-7 Kenny Carr, both future NBA lottery picks. Former UCLA basketball coach John Wooden described Morgan Wootten when he said, "I know of no finer coach at any level – high school, college or pro. I stand in awe of him.” On October 13, 2000, Coach Morgan Wootten was inducted into the Hall of Fame, one of three high school basketball coaches ever so honored. His overall record at the time was 1,210 wins and 183 losses. During his coaching career at DeMatha, he received job offers from North Carolina State, Georgetown, Duke, Wake Forest, and Virginia. Wootten turned down the offers, according to Sports Illustrated, because the Maryland job, was the only college job he wanted. The 1973 DeMatha team was coach Morgan Wooten’s most talented team. Facing one of the top leagues in America, Dematha faced several out of state schools as well. They won the Alhambra Catholic Invitation Tournament, beating Mater Christi, Power Memorial and Leo High School. Adrian Dantley was the greatest player in DeMatha history and one of the best ever produced in the Washington area. The athletic forward was a smooth outside shooter, a force on the inside with an explosive first step, and a master of psychology. “Nobody had a work ethic like Adrian Dantley,” Morgan Wootten said. He practiced obsessively, even on Christmas Day, when he would pick up the gym key from Coach Wooten's house. As a freshman in 1969, Wooten received a knock on the door. He was shocked when their stood the 6-4 Dantley, on not just any morning but Christmas morning. As a senior leader in 1973 Dantley averaged over 22 points and 11 rebounds per game. During his career, he led DeMatha to a combined 57-2 record, earning high school All-America honors. The 6-7 Kenny Carr was an unbelievable power forward for Dematha. As a junior in 1973 Carr dominated the paint, before heading off to NC State. Eventually he was drafted by the Lakers 6th overall in the 1977 NBA draft. Giving the 1973 team, 2 NBA lottery picks. Billy Langloh was a speedy 6-3 guard that went on to play in the ACC for the University of Virginia. He had a good career at Virginia averaging 11 points per game. As a senior in 1973 Langloh was one of the primary guards for Dematha. Buzzy O’Connell was the primary ball handler for the Stags. O’Connell ran Wootten’s offensive system just to coaches liking. The team featured guard Ron Satterwaite who played at William & Mary. Eric Coard seldom played until his senior season, he played good enough to earn a scholarship to the University of Nebraska. Vern Allen started at center for the Stags, his role was mostly to rebound and play defense. He was good enough to play at the University of Niagara. The Stags only had one loss on the year and it came to Baltimore powerhouse Dunbar. ”I will never forget that game," Wootten said several years ago. "We had played St. John's the night before, and we came up to Baltimore the next day and just got outplayed. The place was packed, and Sugar's guys came to play. Skip Wise was unbelievable. Absolutely unbelievable.” Wise scored 39 points (22 in one of the most dominating fourth quarters ever) on an array of long jump shots and slashing drives that left the crowd in an absolute frenzy. Although they didn’t finish the season with the vaunted number one ranking, few doubt they were the best team in the nation. The team was absolutely dripping with talent, under the leadership of Morgan Wooten it was hard to deny their greatness. They played in one of the toughest leagues in America and only lost a game to a standout individual performance.
Honorable Mention: 1957 Middletown (OH), 1959 McClymonds (CA), 1964 Power Memorial (NY), 1974 Verbum Dei (CA), 1977 West Philadelphia (PA), 1977 T.C. Williams (VA), 1978 Dematha High School (MD), 1979 Benjamin Franklin Harlem (NY), 1979 West Memphis (AR), 1988 St. Tolentine Bronx (NY), 1995 St. Augustine (LA), 1995 Lincoln (NY), 1996 Christ The King (NY), 2001 Willowridge (TX), 2002 Westchester (CA), 2003 Blaire Academy (NJ), 2003 St. Vincent St. Mary (OH), 2004 Oak Hill Academy (VA), 2005 South Gwinnett (GA), 2005 Oak Hill Academy (VA), 2005 Niagara Falls (NY), 2007 Norcross (GA), 2009 Findlay Prep (NV), 2017 La Lumiere (IN)
Although the playground game isn’t what it used to be, we still love outdoor basketball. Basketball has always helped neighborhoods to channel their energy into sports and away from tough situations. Admission is free, and each night there is potential to watch professional, college and high school players hone their skills. We give you the best playground basketball courts in America.
Rucker Park - Harlem, New York Veterans: Wilt Chamberlain, Julius “The Doctor” Erving, Connie Hawkins, Joe “Destroyer” Hammond, Tiny Archibald, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Peewee Kirkland, “Jumping” Jackie Jackson, Kobe Bryant, Vince Carter, Allen Iverson, Kevin Durant The most famous and important basketball court of all time. Rucker Park has long been considered hallowed ground and for good reason. Everyone’s who’s anyone, grew up dreaming of showing their skills at Rucker. The long list of NBA pros that played here, grows each year. The court is located in Harlem, it has added features like lights and additional seating throughout the years. Several great tournaments have been played at the Rucker. From the original Rucker-Pro tournament to the Entertainers Basketball Classic, the park has stayed relevant for more than 50 years. It has also played host to celebrity fans like Bill Clinton, Denzel Washington, Barrack Obama, Spike Lee and many more have all attended games at Rucker.
The Cage - Manhattan, New York Veterans: Rod Strickland, Lloyd Daniels, Lamar Odom, Ron Artest, Eric Barkley, Smush Parker. Filipe Lopez, Booger Smith, Kenny Anderson, Anthony Mason Maybe the most unique court on the list. The Cage attracts people from all walks of life, from New York natives to out of town travelers. Close confines of the fence and the court gives it a grimy feel. Fans and onlookers line the fences directory surrounding the court, giving them the feeling that they are in on the action. Fouls are rarely called here and some times an incident can take place. Here, Rod Strickland perfected his handle, Ron Artest developed his no-nonsense defensive approach and Lamar Odom learned his versatile skills. Even today, the best talent in New York can be found at The Cage.
Dyckman - Manhattan, New York Veterans: Ron Artest, Kyrie Irving, Keydrin Clark, Kemba Walker, Isaiah Washington, Tyreke Evans,Corey Fisher, Francisco Garcia, Kevin Durant, Michael Beasley, Trey Burke, Dwight Hardy, Jeremy Hazell, Felipe Lopez, Kareem Reid, JR Smith, Corey Williams Home to the Dyckman league and other high profile tournaments throughout the last 3 decades. Today, the court is one of the most famous in the world and has gained traction in the last few decades. What was a one division, six-team tournament in 1990, is now a tournament with 6 age divisions, containing 77 teams. Its college/pro division is one of the best leagues during summertime, on any given night you are liable to see NBA, NCAA, and overseas professionals on the court. Kemba Walker, Kevin Durant, Michael Beasley and many more have been regulars over the last couple summers. In 2011, Nike formed a team loaded with the top street ball talent in NYC and named them “Team Nike.” They skated through Dyckman staying undeafted throughout the season. When it’s not being used for a tournament, good pick-up runs can still be found at Dyckman.
The Garden - Coney Island, New York Veterans: Stephon Marbury, Sebastian Telfair, Lance Stephenson, Jamell Thomas, Isaiah Whitehead, Norman Marbury, Don Marbury, Eric Marbury, Antonio Pena, Featured in Spike Lee’s 1997 film He Got Game, this Coney Island hotbed has held legendary games since the 70’s. This is the court where Stephon Marbury became one of the most famous New York high school players of all time. It fostered generations of the Marbury clan into basketball success at higher levels. Located just under the fourth floor of the Marbury’s family apartment in the Surf-Side Gardens Projects in Coney Island section of Brooklyn. Several famed players from Abraham Lincoln high school grew up playing in The Garden. After Marbury, players like Sebastian Telfair, Antonio Pena, Lance Stephenson and Isaiah Whitehead have held it down for Coney Island. The park is still home to the legendary Bro-Day game, which features many of New York’s top players.
The GOAT Park “Happy Warrior” - New York, New York Veterans: Wilt Chamberlain, Earl Manguigut, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Rafter Alston, Ron Artest, Booger Smith Four separate courts align the playground and the pastel colors form the lines of the court. Rafer Alston is still a regular at GOAT park even though he is far removed from his youth. Named after the most famous legend NYC has ever had, Earl Manigault made his reputation on these courts during the seventies. Chris Ballard of Hoops Nation "The stories about how he would go up against Wilt (Chamberlain) and dunk on him. Of how he could do a double dunk. Of how he could grab a dollar off the top of the backboard and make change before coming down.” The man himself did confirm the legend "'A lot of that is true, I could grab the dollar, but the part about making the change isn't true. The double dunk, I did that." A young schoolboy at local Power Memorial high frequented the park often catching glimpses of Earl Manigault. Eventually Kareem Abdul-Jabbar grew big enough to play against him. Leading Jabbar to admit on his NBA retirement night that “Earl Manigault was the best player I ever played against”. Few courts are connected to one player like this court is connected to “The GOAT”.
Kingdome - Harlem, New York Veterans: Ron Artest, Pearl Washington, Rafer Alston, Walter Berry, Ed Pinckney, Jamaal Tinsley, Carl Krauser, Tracy McGrady, Elton Brand, Joakim Noah, Tim Thomas, Mo Bamba, Hamidou Diallo Another great court located in Harlem, Kingdome was once a hot spot in the city. Kingdome was closed for several years after financier Dame Dash couldn’t help run the park. It took several years but eventually the Kingdome did open again. At one time The Kingdome Classic was the most important tournament in the city, behind only EBC. The Classic regularly featured NBA pros like Tracy McGrady, Stephon Marbury, Elton Brand, Lamar Odom and a bevy of other stars. Since its reopening, it has been working its way back into the elite circles of NYC summer basketball. Recently a bevy of high school stars like Hamidou Diallo, Mo Bamba and Isaiah Washington have brought tradition back to Harlem.
Sole in The Hole - Brownsville, New York Veterans: Connie Hawkins, Swee' Pea Lloyd Daniels, Booger Smith Located on the border between Brooklyn and Queens, “The Hole” has always been considered a lost neighborhood. Still there is beauty in that struggle, Sole in The Hole is a unique playground that pays homage to the ballplayers that have came before. Lloyd “Swee’ Pea” Daniels learned the game here while growing up, mastering his all around game that translated to a short NBA career. Rumor has it Connie Hawkins used to snatch quarters off the top of the backboards, in order to win bets.
Peters Park - Boston, Massachusetts Veterans: Dana Barros, Patrick Ewing, Wayne Selden Boston’s top playground court has the best runs in the city. A great “Soul Revival” mural is displayed on the walls running parallel to the courts. Legend has it Dana Barros was a regular at the park, routinely going for 50 in games. Patrick Ewing also spent some time here while learning the game, after moving to America. It contains two full-sized basketball courts that include bleachers for fans.
Barry Farms Housing Community - Washington DC Veterans: Kevin Durant, Curt “Trouble” Smith, Gilbert Arenas, Juan Dixon, Ty Lawson, Aquille “Crime Stopper” Carr, Bradley Beal Home of the Goodman League, Gilbert Arenas got booed off the stage in his first Barry Farms appearance. If you don’t produce here, the crowd will let you know it. Many of the DMV’s elite come through Barry Farms and play in the Goodman league. Kevin Durant and Ty Lawson ran together for years as prep players. The most famed player out here might be Curt “Trouble” Smith who dominated the courts in the 90’s and early 2000’s. “Trouble” was a constant on the Barry Farm playgrounds as he dominated almost everyone he matched up with. The Goodman playground provide residents of the community with great pride and entertainment.
The Dome - Baltimore, Maryland Sam Cassell, DeMarr Johnson, Steve Francis, Mugsy Bouges, Reggie Lewis, Carmelo Anthony, Juan Dixon, Steve Blake The Dome is definitely no slouch when it comes to talent. NBA players such as Carmelo Anthony, Reggie Lewis, Juan Dixon, Sam Cassell and Mugsy Bogues have graced the Dome’s surface. The venue is also home to the legendary “Midnight Madness,” which are games that are played at 10:00 p.m., 11:00 p.m. and at 12:00 a.m. on Monday and Wednesday nights in the summertime. Under armor has stepped in and given the court a revamped look. The Dome’s indoor look and outdoor feel give players a special feeling when they take the court. Always a hot spot for University of Maryland and Georgetown players.
Cloverdale - Baltimore, Maryland Carmelo Anthony, Rudy Gay, Sam Cassell, Juan Dixson, Home to NBA star Carmelo Anthony, Cloverdale is one of the more constant playgrounds on our list. You can still get a quality game, unlike many of the other Baltimore playgrounds. NBA champion Sam Cassell has graced the court as well as Baltimore Bullets of the 1970’s like Wes Unseld and Elvin Hayes. Carmelo hosted Melo's Annual H.O.O.D. Movement 3 on 3 Challenge, a three-on-three tournament for local kids, the last couple of years there.
16th and Susquehanna - North Philadelphia Veterans: Rasheed Wallace, Aaron “AO” Owens, Earl Monroe, Aaron McKie, Bryant “Sad Eye” Watson, Doug Overton, Hank Gathers, Wilt Chamberlain, Bo Kimble Philadelphia once ran one of the most entertaining and talent loaded summer tournaments in the country. It all took place on the basketball court at 16th and Susquehanna. Nightly, hundreds of local fans would descend upon 16th. Today is a far cry from the glory days, the league that once brought future NBA talent has since folded. The action here has dried up over the years but a good game can still be found from time to time. In the early 90’s Simon Gratz's players like Rasheed Wallace, Aaron McKie and Aaron Owens could be seen regularly at Susquehanna. “Sixteenth Street really inspired me, because 16th Street was outside, and it was in the community,” Kenny Thompson says. “As soon as the Sonny Hill League games were over, you could walk around the corner to 16th Street, and the games would be going on. You would see some of the top players in the city. It was a whole different atmosphere. It was like going to a family reunion or family barbecue with basketball as the centerpiece.”
Cherashore Park - Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Veterans: Kyle Lowry, Wayne Ellington, Gerald Henderson, Markieff Morris, Marcus Morris, Tony Carr, Tyreke Evans Also known as 10th and Only, Cherashore Park has gained a lot of traction the past couple of seasons. Home to the biggest summer league in all of Philadelphia, the court has picked up some serious renovations thanks to sponsors EA Sports, Mitchell and Ness, NIKE, Red Bull, The Villa and The Philadelphia 76ers. Home to The Chosen League, creator Rahim Thompson takes pride in bringing the community together. The league has produced 125 Division I players. Over 40 alumni of the Chosen League have played professionally, including current NBA stars Kyle Lowry, Wayne Ellington, Gerald Henderson and Markieff and Marcus Morris. The stands are often packed come time for The Chosen League, its not uncommon for 500 fans to show up for a game. The pick-up ball here is legit, so don’t be surprised if you get embarrassed.
Clark Park - Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Veterans: Joe “Jelly Bean” Bryant, Kobe Bryant, Jameer Nelson Known for its grittiness and “no blood, no foul” style of game play, be careful for the natives. This court’s most famous for its match-ups between the older players and younger players. Veterans such as Joe “Jelly Bean” Bryant (Kobe’s dad) still play there, defending their court. Still a relevant spot for Philadelphia’s best young ball players to test their game.
LeClaire Courts - Chicago, Illinois Veterans: Tim Hardaway, Paul McPherson, Eddy Curry, Brian Leech, Juwan Howard, Billy Harris, Kendall Gill Although there are outdoor courts at LeClaire, the best ball is played indoor. As the years pass, anyone who's a real ball player has played on the courts at LeClaire. The one time home to the Chicago’s Pro-Am, the indoor courts are still relevant today helping many of Chicago’s youth. The court was home to Brian Leech’s legendary 70 point game, and several other memorable playground stories.
King Cole Park - Chicago, Illinois Veterans: Cassie Russel, Ricky Green, Bo Ellis, Sonny Parker, Quinn Buckner, Nick Anderson, Hersey Hawkins, Lamar Mundane King Cole Park used to be a jewel of the city, now a day gang violence has taken talent out of the park. Named after Chicago native Nat “King” Cole, the park has been around for more than 40 years. Kings of Chicago like Sonny Parker, Cassie Russel and Quinn Buckner swear this spot was once the best in the city. Chicago native and New York Times sportswriter Ira Berkow wrote that it was one of the "most highly galvanized and competitive outdoor courts in the country.” Recently the shootings became so bad, so routine, that Freddrenna Lyle disabled the basketball courts at the famous Nat King Cole Park by putting locks on the rims. And then ordered that the hoops should come down altogether. A far cry from what used to take place at King Cole.
Fosters Beach Court - Chicago, Illinois Veterans: Tim Hardaway, Billy “The Kid” Harris, Brian Leach, Paul King, Michael Herman Foster Park used to be the spot, some claim that it still is. With over 500 parks in Chicago, it’s hard for a court to standout. Don’t let the scenery of Lake Michigan fool you, Fosters park is a gritty playground that lays on Chicago's south side. Ronnie Fields and Paul McPherson are two park legends, that used to dominate here.
Jackson Park - Chicago, Illinois Veterans: Barrack Obama, Jimmy Hardaway, Kendall Gill, Antonie Walker Located right next to Mt. Carmel High School, this was Barrack Obama’s home court. Jackson offers two basketball courts next to each other and they are some of the best-kept basketball courts in the city. Known as “The Cages”, this park also has a view of Lake Michigan. Beyond “The Cage” the park also had another set of courts across the street. Antoine Walker and Donovan McNabb were regulars here while attending Mt. Carmel High School. Recently Jackson Park has been home to the World Basketball Festival.
Sunset Park - Middleton, Ohio Veterans: Oscar Robertson, Jerry Lucas Although the park isn’t what it once was, it may have been the greatest playground park in America during the 1950s. Famed players such as Oscar Robertson and Jerry Lucas would make the trip to Sunset Park to play among the best in the summertime. College and pro players from neighboring states like Michigan, Indiana, Kentucky would all come out to play. While Middleton isn’t the basketball factory it once was, the court still stands today.
St Cecilia - Detroit, Michigan Veterans: George Gervin, Dave Bing, Jimmy Walker, Magic Johnson, Isaiah Thomas, Voshon Lenard, Ralph Simpson, John Long, Doug Smith, Sean Higgins, Terry Mills, Howard Eisley, Antoine Joubert, Glen Rice, Morris Peterson, Jason Richardson, Steve Smith, Jalen Rose, Chris Webber, Derrick Coleman Detroit has some of the harshest winters of any American city, so it makes sense the best basketball is played indoors. Everyone who’s anyone that can play ball in Detroit, has played at St. Cecilia’s. George Gervin may have started the tradition of making the gym a go-to spot for pros in the area. NBA-TV’s Steve Smith adds “There are always other leagues, but St. Cecilia’s is still where you measure yourself”. Dott Wilson longtime coach at Detroit Central HS, has oversaw the basketball at St. Cecilia for a long time. Recently ESPN personality Jalen Rose has stepped up and help fund St. Cecilia. Thus insuring future generations will have the same opportunities of those before them.
Tandy Rec. Center - St. Louis, Missouri Veterans: Jo-Jo White, Larry Hughes, Bradley Beal, Loren Woods, David Lee Although its an indoor venue, Tandy is the top pickup court in the city. All the real legends of St. Louis have found their way to Tandy. Jo-Jo White helped make the spot well known while growing up in the 1960’s. This spot was once the court for University of St. Louis players during the summertime. Larry Hughes was the spots biggest legend, routinely showing up during the 90’s. If the weather is nice you can always get a few games in outside.
Rupert Bell Rec. - East Winston-Salem, North Carolina Veterans: Chris Paul, Julius Hodge, Josh Howard Home of a unique court similar to Baltimore’s “The Dome”. Rupert Bell Rec gives the players some shade while they run in the fierce summer heat. North Carolina has always had serious love for basketball and this playground court could be their crowing jewel. Recently Chris Paul, has helped to refurbish the basketball courts at the Rupert Bell. Chris and his brother would come down to the popular domed court when they were finished working their shifts at grandfather's gas station. When Chris made it to the NBA he refurbished the court in 2005 in honor of his late grandfather. Chris Paul’s dad commented "There were events here all the time," Paul said. "Guys had cookouts, things like that. My family would come up here. We (Paul and his brother, C.J.) played when we weren't in the backyard.”
Run N' Shoot - Atlanta, Georgia Veterans: Dion Glover, Robert “50” Martin, DeMarr Johnson, Josh Smith Run N’ Shoot was one of the crowning jewels in Atlanta from 1999 to 2002. The indoor physicality hosted the top basketball tournament in Atlanta, daily. During its peak several NBA pros, including Hawks players and Atlanta natives made the spot hot during the Summer months. Players from the University of Georgia and Georgia Tech would routinely show up to get a run in. Several street ball legends like Hot Sauce, Robert “50” Martin an Robert "Hot Sauce" Champion were mainstays at Run N’ Shoot. When they locked there doors for the final time, as mounting debts forced the gym to cease operations. Entrepreneur and coach Mike Williams, commented "Run N' Shoot had a tremendous impact from its beginning to its closing. You had hundreds and thousands of kids who have passed through the gym from 1999. At present, you're talking about hundreds and thousands of kids with nowhere to go.” Although it’s remained closed for more than a decade, the gym called Run N’ Shoot deserves mention.
Central Park - Atlanta, Georgia Veterans: Jordan Hill A park in the Fourth Ward West neighborhood of the Old Fourth Ward in Atlanta. It was known as Bedford-Pine Park prior to 1999. Plus, it has an indoor rec center with a basketball court and even a weight room. Several Georgia Tech players have been seen balling here in the summer time.
Conrad Playground - New Orleans, Louisiana Veterans: Robert Pack, Randy Livingston, Avery Johnson, Jaren Jackson, A halfway indoor court, the Conrad playground is located in New Orleans’s 5th Ward. The games here as usually physical with top notch competition. Players like Robert Pack and Randy Livingston got their start right here at Conrad. Each summer the park holds an annual 3 on 3 tournament. You can even run under the lights after dark.
MacGregor Park - Houston, Texas Veterans: Clyde Drexler, Moses Malone, Hakeem Olajuwon, Dale Thompson, Willie Campbell, Edward “Mad Bomber” Paul, Bennie Anders, Rob Williams The best playground court in all of Texas, people tend to agree the mecca of Texas is MacGregor. Most people swear MacGregor Park hasn’t changed since they were kids, the swooping arches, the line of red tiles, the white tin roof that makes every sound eco. Before his hall-of-fame NBA career Clyde Drexler honed his skills right here at MacGregor. Besides Drexler, a few members of the University of Houston’s Phi Slamma Jama used to run on this court regularly during summer. Legend has it Moses and Hakeem went at it during the early 1980’s at MacGregor.
Mosswood Park - Oakland, California Veteans: Gary Payton, Jason Kidd, Hook Mitchell, Raymond King, Antonio Davis, Greg Foster, Brian Shaw, Damian Lillard, Drew Gooden The best outdoor court in Northern California, the runs at Mosswood are serious. With legendary roots connected with almost every NBA alumni that has called Oakland home. Decades ago was the apex of Mosswood’s talent, with players like Gary Payton, Jason Kidd and Hook Mitchell frequenting the court. The court used to host legendary tournaments in the 80’s and 90’s. Hook Mitchell would routinely dunk over cars that were pulled onto the court. The director of Mosswood, George Hill commented “Most of the kids here now, they just want to imitate what they see on TV. It’s nothing like it was in the 70s or 80s when you had the real ballers coming through here,” he says. “Back then, if you lost a game you probably couldn’t even play again until the next day, there were so many people lined up waiting to get next.” Even recently players like Drew Gooden and Damian Lillard have sharped their skills at Mosswood. The Golden State Warriors have helped give the court various make-overs throughout the years.
Bushrod Rec Center - Oakland, California Veterans: Hook Mitchell, JR Rider, Lester Connor, Raymond “Circus” King, Jason Kidd, Gary Payton, Greg Foster Recently Bushrod has gotten a renovation, thanks to Steph Curry & Under Armor. When “the town” would get to hot for outdoor ball, most players sought refuge in this indoor basketball heaven. Bushrod community center was a common place for Isiah Rider to battle during his youth.
Angels Gate Park - San Pedro, California Located in sunny southern California, Angels Gate Park has an amazing Pacific Ocean backdrop. Although it doesn’t have top flight runs, it's still a great venue.
Venice Beach Courts - Venice Beach, California Veterans: Kobe Bryant, Larry Bird, Raymond Lewis, Robin Kennedy, Nick Van-Exel, Eddie Jones, Baron Davis, Austin Croshere. Get some run by the beach with some of the best scenery around. Legend has it that Larry Bird himself visited the court during the 86 All-Star week, supposedly Bird hustled everyone for their cash and didn’t leave the court all day. A young Kobe Bryant used to frequent Venice Beach, back when he wasn’t getting a lot of run with the Lakers during his first 2 season. Several summer tournament and leagues exists at Venice, the talent level is some of the best in LA. Don’t forget scenes from the infamous 1992 film White Men Can’t Jump were filmed right here.
Rogers Park - Inglewood, California Veterans: Paul Peirce, Andre Miller, Pooh Jeter, Jason Hart, Baron Davis, Milt Palacios, Lisa Leslie, James Worthy, Jamal Wilkes, Michael Cooper Not too far from the showtime Lakers Inglewood Forum home during the 80’s and 90’s, lies Rogers Park. Paul Pierce swears he owes his toughness to Rogers Park. Peirce admits “Rogers Park. That’s kinda where it all started for me.” While the court is isolated out on a solid patch of grass, the game is all contact. The park was notorious as a battleground for both basketball and the streets. Rogers indoor physicality was a hot spot for Lakers and Clippers during the early 90’s. The outdoor court has two stiff metal poles standing 8 feet tall on the sides of mid court. When the weather gets brutal most go inside to battle on the indoor courts.
Wilson Park - Compton, California Veterans: Brandon Jennings, DeMar Derozan, Dennis Johnson You can run under the lights of Wilson, where competition is stiff. Gritty style takes place at Wilson where the park has attracted local players from both Dominguez and Compton High Schools. Legend has it Dennis Johnson was first discovered here by a local junior college coach and given his first chance to play at the college level.
King Drew Magnet - Los Angeles, California Veterans: DeMar DeRozan, Brandon Jennings, James Harden, Paul Pierce, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant, Paul George, Russell Westbrook, Baron Davis, Klay Thompson, Nick Young, Marvin Bagley Home to the Drew League, LA’s version of the Pro-Am. The Drew is currently the go-to spot for NBA players playing during the summer. NBA players tend to live in Los Angles during the off season and the Drew has taken advantage. The gym has seen several renovations and improvements over the years with help from Nike.
Green Lake - Seattle, Washington Veterans: Jamal Crawford, Nate Robinson, Brandon Roy, Jason Terry Located in Green Lake park, this is an ideal spot for an outdoor basketball game. Plenty of space and scenery, just be careful of the wind. The Supersonics gave the court a renovation before leaving town in 2008. One of the top producers of talent in the country, several Seattle pros have balled at Green Lake at one time or another.
Harborfront Community Centre - Toronto, Ontario Veterans: Corey Joseph, Andrew Wiggins, Tristan Thompson Our only spot in the Great White North, this court has been cited as the most popular in the city. The level of competition here is just as real as any other court in America, among its standouts are Andrew Wiggins, Corey Joseph, Tristan Thompson and other Canadian talents.
Gun Hill Playground - Bronx, NY
Cherry Tree Park - Manhattan, NY
Gauchos Gym - Bronx, NY
Fredrick Johnson Playground - New York, NY
Forsyth Playground - New York, NY
4th Ward Park - Linden, NJ
Roberto Clemente Park - Pittsburgh, PA
Garland Park - Pittsburgh, PA
Wilson Park - Chicago, IL
Powell Park - Raleigh, NC
Halle Park - Memphis, TN
Stripe Courts - Memphis, TN
Gresham Park - Atlanta, GA
Ben Hill Rec. - Atlanta, GA
Flamingo Park - South Beach Miami, FL
Tropical Park - Miami, FL
Kezar Pavilion - San Francisco, CA
Hoop Dome - Toronto, CN
Drop us a comment below and let us know if we missed any.
We love sports, but we are always amazed to see how far people take that obsession. Whether its in the form of a sports crazed stalker or someone that will pay thousands of dollars for someones used jock strap. Here's the weirdest sports items ever sold at Auction.
Ty Cobb Wooden Dentures Baseball’s all time leader in batting average was known for his quick temper and his unapproachable demeanor. The daughter of a dentist bought Cobb’s dentures for a whopping $6,500, hopefully they don’t smell.
Jose Canseco’s Finger Jose Canseco isn’t the brightest crayon in the box, so when he shot off his finger with a Remington 45 few were surprised. After sharing the incident on social media, it was natural he put the finger up for sale. The finger didn’t end up selling, but he would attempt to would sell his sole if there were any buyers.
Curt Schilling Bloody Sock The most famous bloody sock of all time, there's still question to whether or not the injury was real. The incident played out in game 6 of the 2004 ALCS, in which Schilling pitched brilliantly. Eventually, Shilling auctioned off the sock for $92,613. Not details were shared on the buyer, we assume he lives in the Boston area.
Nolan Ryan Jockstrap The fireball pitcher had a rather unique item come to auction when his jockstrap hit the market in the mid 19990’s. Someone spent $25,000 for the honor of owning a piece that held a mans grundle.
Tom Seaver's Toothpick While toothpick’s were all the rage in the 60’s, its hard to imagine someone would pay over $400 for a toothpick without superpowers. But that's exactly what happened in 1992 when a New Yorker paid $440 for Seaver’s toothpick. The pick itself was found in the pocket of Seaver’s 1969 Miracle Met's jacket. Which leads us to the question, was that toothpick ever used?
Barry Sanders Urinal Our favorite item on the list, a fan had the foresight to purchase the urinal from the Detroit Silverdome in 2013 for $23. The fan then took the urinal to a Barry Sanders autograph signing session at a local mall. He told Sanders the story and Sanders signed it. After getting the autograph, the owner sold it for $3,000.
Babe Ruth Jersey No one can refute that Ruth was one of the greatest baseball players of all-time. A jersey worn by Babe sold for $4,415,658 in 2012, making it the highest selling sports memorabilia of all-time. The jersey was worn in 1920 and the earliest known jersey worn by Babe with the Yankees. While the item is legit, the price is staggering to us. To compare, Babe Ruth’s jersey he wore in his “called shot” game went for only 940,000 dollars in 2009.
Michael Jordan’s 12 Jersey Mj’s legendary 23 jersey was stolen one night, so Mike had to play in a blank 12 Bulls jersey. He scored 49 points in a 1990 Valentines day loss to Orlando. The jersey has made several rounds from one collector to the next. The game worn number 12 is definitely one of the cooler items that is for sale today.
Luis Gonzalez Chewed Gum Far from the best of his era, borderline Hall-of-Famer Luis Gonzalez had an item bought at an auction that was utterly absurd. A fan bought a piece of Gonzalez’s used Bubblegum for a whopping $10,000. How much would pieces of chewed gum be sold if it was Michael Jordan’s, Wayne Gretzky's or Babe Ruth’s? By far the most over prized nonsense on a list of overpriced nonsense.
Al Cowlings / OJ’s White Bronco Although it wasn't put it your typical auction, they’re were plenty of people interested in purchasing Al Cowlings Bronco that harbored OJ Simpson during the 1994 chase. Eventually the car sold for over 75,000. The vehicle has bounced around and is now available for a cool 750,000.
David Wells Babe Ruth Worn Hat A huge Babe Ruth fan, pitching legend David Wells purchased Ruth’s cap for about 35,000 dollars. Wells actually wore the vintage hat, to pitch in a 1997 regular season contest. He wore the cap for the entire 1st inning before manager Joe Torre made Wells replace the cap. Eventually, he sold it for 537,000 dollars in 2012.
Ruth Gags Photo A rare photo of Babe Ruth went up for sale, the picture showed Ruth in a rather playful moment. The photo was sold at auction for over $3,000 to a Baltimore collector.
Klay Thompson Toaster Although this item has not been sold by the owner, we believe that the item will find its way to market. A Golden State fan once went to a signing session with Klay Thompson and got his toaster signed. Klay was puzzled by the move, but still agreed to sign the toaster. After signing the toaster, the Warriors proceeded to win 29 of their next 30 games (including the Finals). The media and fans started anointing the toaster “magic”. Thompson later invited the toaster guy to the Warriors’ championship parade. We think the toaster could be sold for more than $9,000.
David Price Signed Twinkie Price signed a Twinkie for a Red Sox fan. Said Twinkie then went for $56 on eBay. This was all in the midst of the Twinkie apocalypse.
Frying pan Giannis Antetokoumpo Another item that is not yet for sale, but will be one day. Giannis Antetokounmpo made an appearance at a grocery store in Milwaukee, and 2,500 people came out with items they wanted to get signed. Antetokounmpo was only supposed to stay for an hour. Instead he ended up signing a frying pan.
Andrew Luck Sketch of Lucas Oil Stadium Upon being drafted by the Colts, the architectural design major sketched a picture of the Colts home stadium. Although the item has spirit, we were surprised it sold for $1,500 in auction.
Steph Curry Mouth Guard The sharpshooters mouth piece went for $3,190 in a 2016 bay area auction.
Joe Montana’s Love Letters How would you feel if your ex-girlfriend sold your old love letters and made them public? His college girlfriend ended up marrying Joe, before the two divorced in 1993. She hung onto some of the notes and letters he’d written her. A collection of three love letters went for $3346.
Honus Wagner T-206 Card The most famous baseball card of all time, the T206 Honus Wagner card in a near-mint condition, was sold to Hockey star Wayne Gretzky at an auction for $451,000 in 1991. It repeatedly sold at auction, reaching a peak of $2.8 million in 2011. A year later, a auction house dealer admitted to trimming the card’s frayed edges to improve its value. Approximately 57 T-206 Wagner cards exist, with virtually all selling for at least six figures, regardless of condition.
Andre Agassi Pony Tail His hair is one of the most iconic in sports history, so it wasn’t a shock when the CEO of Planet Hollywood went all in for the Tennis star’s prized locks. It was put on a rotating display at some of their Planet Hollywood restaurants.
Adam Morrison Bloodied Nose Gauze Although his career in the NBA was short lived, Adam Morrison will always be a legend in Spokane, Washington. The former Gonzaga star once famously bloodied his nose during his junior season. The bloodied nose gauze found its way to an auction where it was purchased for $2,000.
Michael Jordan McDonalds BBQ Sauce In 2012 a North Dakota native sold a one gallon jug of the rare McJordan sauce for $10,000. A “McJordan” was a quarter pounder with cheese, bacon, pickles, onions, mustard and barbecue sauce that came out in 1992 and cost $1.85. The Sauce was over 20 year old when purchased, a rare item purchased by an insane collector.
Art Modell's Toilet The toilet used by the former Browns owner in his Cleveland Municipal Stadium sold for $2,700. Purchaser Gary Baur said "I wanted to see where Art Modell made all his bad business decisions."
Robert Griffin III Cast Rich Bruno joined other weird memorabilia owners by spending over $1,500 on a cast worn by Washington quarterback Robert Griffin III. The cast was also autographed by his teammates, but Bruno was interested for sentimental value.
Thurman Munson’s Pilot Licence A dark item that went up for auction was Thurman Munson’s pilot license, yes the same Munson that died in a plane crash. Super fan Richard Tschernia shocked the public when he paid $6,900 for Munson's pilot's license that expired only days before the Yankees catcher died in a plane crash.
Babe Ruth Note to Mistress A handwritten note from Babe Ruth to his mistress, written on hotel stationery in 1922, sold for $75,000.
Joe DiMaggio’s Wedding Cake Although it wasn’t from DiMaggio’s wedding with famed Marilyn Monroe, the stale cake still sold for $715 at an auction. The piece was left over from DiMaggio's first wedding, to actress Dorothy Arnold in 1939.
The fabric of America is not a spiraling city metropolis, rather it’s small towns. Some of sports biggest icons are natives of small towns. Michael Jordan, Jim Thorpe, Pele, Jerry Rice, Bo Jackson, and Wayne Gretzky all grew up in places with fewer than 60,000 residents. About 25 percent of the United States population resides in cities with under 50,000 people, but nearly half of the players in the NFL are from areas that size. The trend is less significant but continues into the NHL (39 percent), MLB (38 percent), NBA (28 percent) and PGA tour (50%). How are small towns able to produce an abundance of talent? It could be the cultural importance placed on sports in the community. It could be a chance to get away from their rural environments. It all got us to wondering, what small towns produce the best pro sports talent? We take a look at our 12 favorite.
The Muck, Florida Pahokeee, a small town in southeastern Florida is home to 5,600 residents. The closest town, Belle Glade has a population of 17,000 residents. Together these two communities are known as “The Muck”. They hold a unique tradition that is something out of a comic book. Located on the eastern southern coast of Florida. The cities have a rough reputation and both cities are well below the poverty line. While it may lack state funding and a solid infrastructure, it does posses a legendary football legacy. Two school’s Glades Central and Pahokeee, have sent at least 48 players to NFL over the last four decades. Pahokeee has won five state championships in last 6 years, Glades central has won six since 1971. Each year the Muck Bowl is decided between Glades Central and Pahokeee high. While the game is for bragging rights, it symbolizes much more. Many wonder why Pahokeee & Glades could produce the ridiculous number of NFL players it does. Sugar Cane fields spread right up to the levees of Lake Okeechobee, known as the Muck for its dark rich soil and three feet of coffee grounds. Pahokeee holds a unique football tradition each year, they burn the sugar cane harvest, the burn drives the rabbits out of the fields. During the burning, players from the city will come out and try to catch the rabbits. If they catch a certain number of rabbits (45 in one day) they are fast enough to be a position player for the football team. Many think the tradition provides a quick separation of the players and non-players. Anquan Bolding, Janoris Jenkins, Perneell McPhee, Antone Smith, Bill Bently, Rickey Jackson and Andre Water have all chased the rabbits. Adidas made an ad campaign based around the cities rabbit chasing tradition (which can be seen here). The Muck has a reputation for producing tough no-nonsense players. NFL hall of fame linebacker Ricky Jackson may have been the first star of “The Muck”. The 4x All-Pro selection attended Pahokee high school before going on to Pittsburgh. As a member of the New Orleans Saints he was a member of the famed “Dome Patrol”. Four time pro bowl running back Fred Taylor was born in Pahokee and attended Glades Central. Taylor initially played linebacker, but switched to running back in his junior season. As a senior, he ran for 1,700 yards and 22 touchdowns. Taylor played at the University of Florida before being drafted in the 1st round with the 9th overall pick. In an area known for producing receivers, Anquan Boldin may have been the best. The future Hall of Fame wide receiver stared at Pahokee high from 1993 to 1995. Boldin caught for over 14,000 yards in his NFL career and has stared in 2 Superbowl's. Superbowl champion Santonio Holmes also attended Glades Central high school. He was a Letterman in football, basketball, and track. In football, he helped lead his team to two state titles and a 12-1 record as a senior. Santonio graduated from Glades Central High School in 2002 before winning a National Championship at Ohio State. During his pro career he produced over 6,000 receiving yards and 36 touchdowns in 9 seasons. Recently star cornerback, Janoris Jenkins stared for The Muck. He caught the rabbit in 2006 before being drafted by the Rams in 2012. Kelvin Benjamin was originally a basketball player, before he took up football his junior season. Everyone was impressed with Benjamin, at a camp Randy Moss told him he reminded him of himself at the same age. Benjamin played 3 seasons at Florida State before being drafted in the first round. Other elite football players that come out of “The Muck” include Alphonso Smith drafted in 2009, Kevin Bouie in 1995, Eric Moore in 2005, Pernell McPhee in 2011, Dwight Bentley in 2012.
A town of only 27,000 residents, located 8 miles west of the Hoover river. The town is still stained of the mining and steel making decline of the early 1900’s. Without Bessemer, the history of college football would change dramatically. The town has the distinction of being home to 2 different Heisman winners, Bo Jackson and Jameis Winston.
Winston grew up in Bessemer and played his high school football at nearby Hueytown High School. As a high school senior, Winston threw for 2,424 yards and 28 touchdowns. And ran for another 1,065 yards and 15 TDs as a senior. As a redshirt freshman, Winston won the 2013 Heisman Trophy with Florida State. The next season he led his team to the 2014 BCS National Title and a 14-0 record. He went 26-1 as the starting quarterback at Florida State. True to his roots, Winston held a draft night party in Bessemer, rather than attend the NFL Draft in Chicago. Before he was the most famous athlete on earth, Bo Jackson called the city home. He attended school in McAadory, where he rushed for 1175 yards as a running back as a high school senior. Jackson hit twenty home runs in 25 games for McAdory's baseball team during his senior season. Bo was also a two-time state champion in the decathlon, in which he built up such a commanding lead that he never had to compete in the 1500 meter race of event. In 1982, Jackson set state school records for indoor high jump (6'9") and triple jump (48’8"). Beside the two Heisman winners, Bessemer has produced a ton of football talent. DeMeco Ryans attended Jess Lanier High. In his senior season, he had 135 tackles, 11 sacks, two forced fumbles and two interceptions. Ryans eventually played college football for the University of Alabama, and received unanimous All-American honors. He was chosen by the Houston Texans in the second round of the 2006 NFL Draft. In Houston, he was named the AP NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2006, he was also selected to two Pro Bowls. Jerome Rhodes was a starting quarterback and honor student at Jess Lanier High in Bessemer. During his senior season, Rhodes threw for more than 1,600 yards and ran for another 850. He was also selected first team All-state in basketball, after he led his team to the 6A title game. He was drafted by the New York Jets in the fourth round of the 2005 NFL Draft. Rhodes was named to All-Pro teams by three publications after the 2006 NFL season. If that’s not enough, rap legend Gucci Man hails from Bessemer.
Middleton, Ohio A town of 48,000 people, halfway between Dayton and Cincinnati. Bleak and gloomy weather burden the city, that was once famous for it’s steel production. During the 1950’s and 60’s it was one of the best basketball cities in America. Their outdoor court “Sunset Park” was home to some of the most legendary street games of all time, featuring future pros like Oscar Robertson and Jerry Lucas. Hundreds of fans lined the court to watch the area’s greatest high school and college players. Middletown high school had already won five state championships from 1945–55. Residents have taken pride in its plethora of amazing athletes that have been born and raised in the city. By the time he was 15, Sunset Park was one of the best summer basketball scenes in the midwest. By then, Jerry Lucas had grown to 6'7" and had the opportunity to scrimmage against college players, improving his game significantly. He led the 1956 Middletown team to an undefeated season and co-national high school champion. The 1956–57 team also went undefeated and won the Ohio state title. By then, Lucas had set several all-time Ohio records for scoring and shooting accuracy. Lucas entered his senior year as the top-rated high school player in the country. When Middletown lost to an undefeated Columbus North team, 63-62, in the 1958 state playoffs, his high school career ended with a 76-1 record. Lucas went on to a standout career, playing 14 NBA seasons before being selected for the Hall of Fame. The most notable family of Middleton was the Carters, the eldest brother Butch stared for Middleton High School from 1973-1976. As a senior Butch was Mr. Basketball of Ohio. He went on to play for Indiana University and was drafted by the Los Angeles Lakers. He played in the NBA for 6 seasons before going on to coach professionally. The youngest of the Carter brothers, was Chris. The two-sport star attended Middleton high from 1980-83. Many thought of him as a superb basketball talent that was destined to follow his brother’s path to the NBA. The little brother was heavily recruited in both football and basketball. He chose to attended Ohio St, where he planned to play both sports. After his freshman season he decided to focus entirely on football. As a junior he was an All-American before declaring for the draft. He played 15 seasons in the NFL and left as one of the greatest wide receivers of all time. Carter was known for his ridiculous hands, racking up over 13,000 receiving yards and 130 touchdowns. Todd Bell was a standout football player for Middletown, recruited by Ohio State as a defensive back. In 1981 Todd Bell was drafted by the Chicago Bears, playing for them from 1981 to 1987. He signed a contract with the Philadelphia Eagles, where he played an additional two years before breaking his leg against the Bears in 1989. Jalin Marshall attended Middletown high school, where he played wide receiver and quarterback. During his career, he rushed for 4,759 yards and had 54 total touchdowns. Marshall was rated by Scout.com as a five-star recruit and committed to Ohio State University to play college football. Baseball standout Kyle Schwarber attended Middletown High School in Middletown, Ohio. During his four years, he hit .408 with 18 home runs and 103 RBIs. Gary Brewer, a professional golfer on the PGA Tour from 1961 to 1972, was the winner of the 1967 Masters Tournament. Brewer retired from the PGA Tour with 11 tournament wins. Produced a various other division 1 college basketball players like Purdue's current star Vincent Edwards. Most recently Luke Kennard came out of the city, he set the Ohio high school basketball scoring record before staring at Duke University for 2 seasons. He’s currently in his rookie season with the Detroit Pistons.
Kinston, North Carolina Just off the coast of the Atlantic, Kinston only has 21,000 residents. At one point they were the tobacco capital of America. Another time they had a bomb threaten the entire existence of their city. Since then gangs, drugs and violence have overwhelmed the community. A town of about 20,000 people produces more high-level basketball talent than major cities. The odds of making it to the NBA are pretty minuscule, only three out of every 10,000 high school players make it to the highest level of basketball. But Kinston’s numbers resonate way differently. Since 1972, 1 out of 53 varsity players play in the NBA. Making it the top producer of talent per capita of any city in the United States. Holloway rec. center was a proving ground for the top Kinston players. The center was opened and is still owned by Brandon Ingram’s Father. The skill level was separated by two courts. One court for the adults and one for the kids. Everyones aim was always to play on the adult court, that's how you proved you belong. As a youngster Jerry Stackhouse had intense battles with Mr. Ingram, trying to prove his rank at the center. Cedric “Cornbread” Maxwell started off the tradition for Kinston. He was only good enough to make the varsity team as a senior, before earning a division 1 scholarship. Cornbread was drafted in the first round by San Diego in the 1977 draft. He went on to play with Larry Bird and the Boston Celtics winning an NBA championship in 1981. Maxwell has served as a mentor to many in the community. Jerry Stackhouse may have claim to the greatest athlete out of Kinston. The 18 year NBA veteran set all scoring records at Kinston before heading off to Oak Hill Academy as a senior. Heres a bonus video of Stack dominating at Kinston in the early 90's. Stackhouse scored over 24,000 points in his NBA career. He has claimed Kinston as his home throughout his career. Stackhouse has also been an adviser for several athletes from Kinston after him. Recently Brandon Ingram has continued the tradition after scoring over 2,500 points in high school. He headed off to Duke where he was the ACC freshman of the year, before being drafted 2nd overall in the NBA draft. Reggie Bullock also grew upon Kinston. He said there were a number of people who looked out for him as a young ball player growing up in a place he has described as “gangland.” Bullock said gang members helped dissuade him from a life of crime and went as far as to shelter him from danger. Tony Dawson is a retired NBA small forward who attended Kinston High School. He’s played with the Sacramento Kings and the Boston Celtics before playing some basketball overseas. While the city produces mostly basketball talent they have produced other notable athletes. NFL hall of famer, tight end Dwight Clark was born in Kinston. Kinston was home to NBA veterans Herbert Hill, Charles Shackleford, Mitchell Wiggins and NFL veteran Dwight Coples. UNC Coach Roy Williams commented, “You know it is incredible the size of the town but yet you think about those players that have been there and what they’ve accomplished. It’s phenomenal.” Williams also added that “I’m more likely to travel to Kinston to see a player than I would be in New York City”.
Donora, Pennsylvania Donora is a decaying town, another in a long line of once-flourishing Rust Belt boroughs along the river in West Pennsylvania. Agriculture, coal-mining, steel-making, wire-making, and other industries were conducted in Donora's early history. Home to the 1948 smog that killed 20 people and sickened another 7,000. Donora has a collection of hall-of-famer's that would even put the bigger cities to shame. Stan Musial, Ken Griffey Junior and Joe Montana. The population as of 2010 was a mere 4,781.The steel mills closed long ago. A broken-down bridge that was Donora’s last business life line was imploded last year. “It’s really depressing, and basically, everybody moves out of this town,” said Dennis Lomax, 64, who grew up in Donora. Stan “The Man” Musial was the first superstar to hail from Donora. While growing Musial lived next to a former minor league catcher who taught Musial valuable lessons in baseball. He played one season on the Donora High School baseball team, where one of his teammates was Buddy Griffey, father of MLB player Ken Griffey Sr. and grandfather to Ken Griffey Jr.. One of the greatest hitters in the history of baseball had a lifetime average of .331 over his 22 big league seasons. Musial faced hometown tragedy when the Donora Smog attack killed a brother and a cousin. Although it was a tremendous loss for Musial he continued to support his home town. “The Man” helped put Donora on the map and has never forgotten when he came from, giving the residents of the city a great source of pride. Both Ken Griffey Jr. and Ken Griffey Sr. hail from Donora. Senior went to high school right there in Donora before staring for the Reds and Mariners. His contemporaries in Donora did not think he would become a baseball star; they considered his best sport football, where he was a star wide receiver. At times, he would even compete in track meets during baseball games, rushing up the hill between Donora High School's baseball field and track between at-bats when it came time for his track events. Junior didn't play his high school ball in town but went to Archbishop Moeller of Cincinnati. Still Senior thought it was best if his family lived in the same town he grew up in. Both still call Donora home to this day, the town recently gave the town an official Ken Griffey day. Joe Montana “Joe Montana was from New Eagle, but he played his high school football for Ringgold at Legion Field here in Donora,” he said. Maybe think the magic of Donora may have rubbed off on Montana. While the city hasn't produced a great athlete in a number of years, the community is still heavily rooted in sports. Donora is a decaying town, yet another Western Pennsylvania borough hit by hard times. But it’s also the birthplace of the Griffey's and Stan Musial, and that’s something that keeps its residents going.
Aliquippa, Pennsylvania Located only 29 miles outside Pittsburgh, this tiny town of 10,000 was able to give starts to 4 future NFL hall-of-famers. In the early 1980's when the steel mills started moving away, people found multiple generations of their families out of work. With no other jobs, most people moved away from the area. This caused the city’s population to drop drastically. Those who stayed found themselves struggling just to feed their families. It has one of the highest violent crimes rates in the nation, regardless of city size. The towns original sports hero might be Pete Maravich’s father, Press Maravich. From his early time as a player, Press was a basketball hero in his hometown. After his brief professional career he returned to coach the high school boys team. Before the sweater vest and cigar, future hall-of-famer Mike Ditka was a 3 sport star at Aliquippa High School. Under head coach Press Maravich, Ditka started at forward on the basketball team. Ditka went on to be a hall of fame NFL tight end and a Superbowl winning coach with the 1986 Chicago Bears. Eight years after Ditka departed, Press Maravich’s son was ready to star for the city. It was Aliquippa, where Pete first honed his basketball wizardry, even throwing an under the legs pass as a 12 year old on the high school’s varsity. Maravich and Press eventually formed the greatest father-son college tandem of all time. Maravich scored a record 44 points a game for his dad at LSU, before staring for 10 seasons in the NBA. Running back Tony Dorsett attended Hopewell High School and set the school rushing record with 2,272 yards. While attending Pittsburgh University, he was the Heisman winner in the 1976 season. Dorsett was an all-world running back in the NFL where he accumulated 4 Pro Bowl selections and a first team All-Pro nod in 1981. The early 90’s saw Ty Law emerge on the scene for Aliquippa high. Law was MVP of the school’s basketball and football teams. He was a top 50 recruit nationally and chose to attend Michigan before his hall of fame NFL career. As a senior Sean Gilbert was a Parade Magazine All-America and the USA Today Prep Defensive Player of the Year and the Associated Press named him to its First-team All-state after leading the "Quips" to a 14–1 record and a Western Pennsylvania AAA championship. The greatest football player to come out of Aliquippa may be Darrelle Revis. In the State Championship game, he led Aliquippa to a come-from-behind 32–27 win by scoring 5 touchdowns. In his junior and senior years of high school he led Aliquippa to WPIAL basketball championships, leading the team in scoring both years, culminating with a 25.2 PPG average his senior season. He stared at Pittsburgh before his 5x All-Pro career in the NFL. Other NFL players that came out of the city include, Carmine DePascal, Anthony Dorsett Jr., Charles Fisher, John Tzel, Josh Lay, Curt Singer, Paul Posluszny, Richard Mann, Bob Liggett, and Willie Walker. These kids don’t have a lot, most have nothing to look forward to but football, so they put all of their pride into that game.
Compton, California Depending on who you ask, Compton is both clouded in gang violence and filled with family ties. Ask those outside LA and they instantly think of gang activity. Natives tell a tale of close-knit community. Similar to other cities, Compton has seen a serious change over the last 50 years. While the namesake provides plenty of cache, the city itself has produced a countless amount of pro stars. A rich history of sport has always ran parallel with the city. The city’s biggest stars may be sisters, Serena Williams world No. 1 ranked female tennis player with 23 Grand Slam singles titles and 14 Grand Slam doubles titles. And her sister, Venus Williams – former world No. 1 tennis player with seven Grand Slam titles and four Olympic golds. The sister honed their game in Compton learning the game at an early age from their father. Heres some footage on Venus and Serena on their upbringing in Compton. Dennis Johnson was one of the first truly dominant basketball players from Compton. The glamour of NBA stardom was a long way from Johnson's childhood in Compton, Calif. He was the eighth of 16 children, the son of a bricklayer and a social worker. As a 5-9 guard at Dominguez High School, Johnson played only a minute or two each game. After graduation he grew 6 inches and eventually found his way to Pepperdine University, before going on to a hall of fame career with Seattle and Boston. In 2000 a kid named Aaron Afflao started attending Centennial High in Compton. Afflao went on to be a two time All-State selection and a top 20 player nationally. After leading UCLA to the Final 4 in his junior season, he declared for the draft. Later prompting Compton rapper Kendrick Lamar to include tails of Afflao, in his hit album Good Kid Mad City. Demar Derozan blew up as a 13 year old playing with Master P’s All-Star team, that featured the likes of Brandon Jennings. Jennings who started his freshman year at Compton’s Dominiguez, then transferred to Oak Hill Academy his sophomore season amid cash allegations. Meanwhile Derozan stayed home attending nearby Compton High School for 4 seasons before attending USC. As teenage stars the duo knew just about everyone in Compton, including fellow basketball star James Harden. The Beard attended Artesia High School a far drive away from the inner city of Compton. Although he didn’t attend a Compton basketball factory he did lead his team to two state championships. The cities other NBA players include Cedric Ceballaos, Dwayne Polee, Tyshaun Prince, Patrick Christopher, Josh Childress, Titto Maddox and Jeff Trepagnier. All-Pro NFL corner Richard Sherman played for Dominguez high from 2003-2006. As a senior in 2005, he accounted for 1,030 all-purpose yards, including 870 yards on 28 catches and three punt returns for touchdowns. Sherman was even named an All-American track and Field player as a high school senior. Sherman played at Stanford before being drafted in the 5th round by the Seattle Seahawks. Compton’s only Heisman winner was USC running back Mike Garrett. Garrett was a star running back during his reign with the Trojans. He went on to star in the NFL for 10 seasons. Notable ESPN personality and NFL pro bowler Marcellus Wiley also hails from Compton. Wiley played for the Bills and Chargers for 11 NFL seasons. James Lofton was a standout linebacker with the Washington Redskins. Lofton helped them to 3 Super Bowl titles after growing up in Compton. Eddie Murray was a big time slugger in the major leagues, tacking up over 500 home runs. Murray started his baseball career at Compton High before moving on to college. As a senior the outfielder was one of the most sought after prospects in the country. Murray is far from the only great baseball player Compton has produced. Duke Snider Started the tradition, the MLB hall of famed had a great career with the Brooklyn Dodgers. Snider stared at Compton high in the late 1930’s. The city has also produced various other coaches and people close to sports. Ex NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle is a native of Compton.
Pensacola, Florida The western most city in the Florida Panhandle has a population around 55,000. Known for their dangerous exposure to hurricanes and their title of "The Cradle of Naval Aviation”. Home to a large United States Naval Air Station, the first in the United States. The football king of talent could also be Pensacola. Home to all time greats Emmit Smith and Derrick Brooks, the city gets little credit for its football dominance. A respectable number of basketball and baseball stars also called the city home. The youth program was thought to have some of the best coaches in america. The NFL’s all time leading rusher Emmitt Smith, attended Escambia High School where he played high school football and ran track. During Smith's career he rushed for 106 touchdowns and 8,804 yards, which was the second most yardage in the history of American high school football at the time. Emmitt rushed for over 100 yards in 45 of the 49 games he started for Escambia. In track & field, Smith competed as a sprinter and was a member of the 4 × 100 m (42.16 s) relay squad. For his efforts, Smith was the USA Today and Parade magazine high school player of the year for 1986. Following Smiths stellar high school career, the city birthed another Football legend in Derrick Brooks. Brooks attended Washington High School in Pensacola where he was a USA Today All-American. During his senior season in 1991, Brooks carried Pensacola to the state playoff semifinals, where they lost to the eventual champion Manatee. Brooks would eventually star in the NFL where he was All-Pro 11 times, he was elected to the hall of fame in 2014. Doug Baldwin hails from the city, where he stared at two sports in high school. The wide receiver had a big senior season with 682 yards and 6 touchdowns. Once at the pro level, Baldwin broke out racking up over 5,900 receiving yards and 80 touchdowns in just 7 seasons. Recently running back’s Trent Richardson and Alfred Morris stared for high schools in Pensacola. Both running backs made it big in the NFL, even though Richardson flamed out rather quickly. Richardson was an All-American during his high school career. While Morris was an unheralded recruited, he excelled at the pro level. Not known for corner backs, Cortland Finegan also attend Pensacola high. An underrated recruited Finegan proved himself at the highest keel once he got the chance. Several other outstanding football players call the city home including Ladius Green, Josh Sitton, Ahtyba Rubin, Adron Chambers, Fred Robbins. Baseball is another speciality of Pensacola, which produced the likes of Addison Russell, Josh Donaldson, Jay Bell, Travis Fryman, Buck Showwalter, Josh Sitton and Don Sutton. The town has even produced a few NBA players, Bob Williams, Tom Sweell, Rich Peek, Clifford Lett and most recently Reggie Evans. Infamous boxer Roy Jones Jr. hails from Pensacola. Before he went on to 6 different weight titles, he trained right there in downtown Pensacola.
Norcross, Georgia A fast growing city in northern Georgia, in only 5 years Norcross went from 9,000 residents to over 16,000. The recent explosion in population has helped an already robust basketball city take the next step. Norcross has recently started to produce high quality players. Before 2003, no NBA player ever came out of Norcross. Since then Jodie Meeks, Trey Thompkins, Gani Lawal, Jeremy Lamb, Al-Farouq Aminu and Malcolm Brogdon have all made it to the league via Norcross. Putting out NBA players is nearly impossible and Norcross is making it look routine. Outside of prep schools, there are not many talent-rich public high school basketball factories. Norcross High is a public school that continually produces college & NBA level basketball players. Racking up multiple state championships while sending countless players to the college and NBA level. Head Coach Jesse McMillan, has sent over 45 players to division one college since 2002. Jodie Meeks started the recent trend of successful players when he started at Norcross High in 2002. His senior season culminated in Meeks averaging 25 points and leading Norcross to it’s first state championship. As a top 50 recruit nationally, he drew numerous college scholarships before choosing Kentucky. As a junior he earned All-American honors and was a first round draft pick in the NBA. Al-Fariuq Aminu was a bona fide star as a high school star at Norcorss high. A top 10 recruit nationally, Aminu averaged 23.1 points, 11.2 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game as a senior. Aminu is currently in his 8th NBA season with career averages of 9 points and 5 rebounds. Norcross went 30-3 during Aminu’s senior season where he paired with future NBA player Gani Lawal. Lawal teamed with Aminu to make one of the best front lines in the history of Georgia high school basketball. Lawal was named a McDonalds All-American as a senior before staring at Georgia Tech. Before he won the 2009 NCAA championship with the UCONN Huskies Jeremy Lamb was leading Norcross to a regional championship. After his two years at UCONN, Lamb was an NBA lottery pick in 2012. Recent NBA sensation Malcolm Brogdon graduated in 2009 before staring at the University of Virginia. As a high school senior he averaged 25.7 points, 12.9 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 2.3 steals per game. Brogdon was Rookie of the Year in 2016 after being drafted in the 2nd round by Milwaukee. Various college basketball stars also came out of the city. Trey Thompkins had a cup of tea in the NBA after staring at Georgia. Jordan DeMercy paired with Aminu and Lawal before playing at Florida State for 4 seasons. Chris Allen was a college star at Michigan State. Rayshaun Hammond's like countless other players played at Georgia. Jordan Goldwire is a sophomore at Duke University. Most recently Norcross high’s Lance Thomas committed to Louisville. True to its state tradition, the city has produced some great football talent. Before tearing up the NFL, running back Alvin Kamara called Norcross home. The pro bowl running back and Crimson Tide alumni, attended school at Norcross high. Wide recover Brice Butler, Denver Broncos center Max Garcia and Detroit Lions Tackle Jeff Backus all stared at Norcross high in the past 20 years. Recently Georgia's Lorenzo Carter attended Norcross high.
Pine Bluff, Arkansas With a population of about 50,000 people, Pine Bluff has been a hidden gem in the world of sports. With roots in the civil war, early industry help build the cities infrastructure. Once those industries left and jobs were gone, the community took a serious hit. Now the town has major problems with its economy and dying infrastructure. At one time, it was one of the major producers of athletic talent in the country. Early football star Don Hutson help put Pine Bluff on the map. As a senior at Pine Bluff High School he was an All-State basketball player, he was famously quoted as saying "I'm like most, I'd rather see football, but I'd rather play basketball.” Hutson only played one year of football at Pine Bluff before he went on to play for the Alabama Crimson Tide. He then signed a contract with the Green Bay Packers where he stayed for 10 seasons. He was an 8 time first team All-Pro at the wide receiver position and won three championship. Hutson was named league MVP twice, leading the league in receiving yards 7 times. Joe Berry Caroll was perhaps Pine Bluff’s biggest basketball star. The 7’0 Center stared at North Carolina State in college before becoming at NBA lottery pick. A naturally gifted player, Caroll struggled with substance abuse issues and was never able to fulfill his true potential. One of the NBA’s first big point guards was Lafayette Lever, better known as “FAT”. The 6-3 Lever had a long and skinny frame that allowed him to shoot and see over the top of smaller defenders. His best year came in 1987 when he averaged 19 points to go along with 8 assist for the Denver Nuggets. The best part of Lever’s game might have been his rebounding, as he averaged 8 or more rebounds 4 different times in his career. The cities most well-known star was Torii Hunter, the former MLB center fielder stared at Pine Bluff High school where he played baseball, football, basketball and track. During his high school career he was named to the US track team. Eventually he was selected out of high school in the 1993 MLB draft by the Minnesota Twins. Willie Roaf was a longtime NFL lineman that also grew up in Pine Bluff. Roaf was a star tackle in high school and had numerous division 1 college choices. Roaf might even receive some consideration for the Hall of Fame. The mid size city has also produced a countless amount of division 1 football and basketball players. Recently those in the area think that the talent pool has dropped off quite a bit. Mostly due to families moving away from the area. Locals question when that problem will be solved.
East Chicago, Indiana Located against the south end of Lake Michigan, East Chicago is cold, tough town in the northern most part of Indiana. Home to 30,000 people, the frigid town has produced great athletes. East Chicago was once powered by a booming steel industry. Near by, Gary is another basketball hot bed that has produced numerous talents. East Chicago's has a rich high school basketball history which includes four basketball state championships, 7 NBA players and more than 100 Division I players. Before Kenny Loften was big time in the major leagues, he called East Chicago home. Loften was a huge two sport star in baseball and basketball. The future MLB All-Star broke several school records. He started at point guard for the schools basketball team, while playing center field for the baseball team. Greg Popovich grew up in East Chicago before playing in the NBA and coaching 5 championship teams. He spent his summer nights at Glen Park on 39th and Broadway in south Gary, going against the top players in the area. As a junior he started on the varsity team, where he improved each day. Eventually he caught a scholarship and made his way to the NBA. Recently Popovich had his No.21 jersey retired by his high school, prompting him to say, "I don't know why they want to do it now. My scoring average hasn't changed in 40 years." Here is some bonus footage of Popovich talking about growing up in East Chicago. NBA player Junior Bridgeman was the 7th overall pick in the 1982 draft. Bridgeman was a star recruit for East Chicago high. NBA journeyman Etwann Moore continued the basketball tradition in East Chicago. The 6-3 scoring guard was a top 50 recruit nationally before attending Purdue University. Recently Carolina Panthers Star Kawann Short attended East Chicago high from 2004 to 2007. Short was under recruited but was a two time all Big-Ten selection at Purdue. Besides Short, the town has produced long time NFL veterans Jim Bradley and Ron Smith. They even produced MLB players Larry Fritz and Bob Anderson.
Lamar, South Carolina Lamar with a tiny population of 989, has produced four NFL football players in the past 25 year. All of them attended the one and only high school in town. Linebacker Levon Kirkland (Class of 1986), defensive end John Abraham (1996), safety Mike Hamlin (2004), linebacker Marshall McFadden (2005) and B.J. Goodson (2011) all came up in Lamar. Known as a town where two school busses were toppled over in a desegregation protest in 1970, Lamar remade its image with football. The odds of a town that size producing 5 NFL players in 25 years is off the charts. Jeffrey Forrester, an associated professor of math at Dickenson College in Pennsylvania put the chances at 0.000000000797. Being dealt a royal flush is 20,000 times more likely to happen. Dominic Yeo, an Oxford math student, set the probability at “1 in ten million billion.” John Abraham was a star in the NFL, making 5 pro bowl teams as a defensive end. The future first team All-Pro selection played only one season of high school football where he was good enough to earn a scholarship to the University of South Carolina. Most recently Lamar native B.J. Goodson made his way to the NFL. The Clemson linebacker was drafted in the 4th round by the New York Giants in 2016. In his 2 seasons with the Giants, he has recorded 62 tackles. Levon Kirkland, a former Pittsburgh Steeler and second-round draft pick, is now an assistant coach with the Arizona Cardinals. Before his coaching days he was a 2x All-Pro selection at linebacker. He believes the no-frills life in Lamar has a real effect on the success of the players in the city “there were no movie theaters or fast food restaurants and that led to a blue-collar work ethic. The guys from Lamar are workers.”
Mount Vernon, NY. Tyler, TX. Gavelston, TX. Tuston, CA. Martins Ferry, OH. Gastonia, NC. Marietta, GA. Griffin, GA. Stone Mountian, GA. Bernice, LA. Lufkin, TX. Gastonia, NC.
An overly complicated list to research and judge. High School Football has been played in this country for over 90 years. Choosing the 10 best teams was a big task. While the Football might span several decades, their were many similarities between these all time juggernauts. Teams were ranked based on a few characteristics, Division 1 or NFL talent, their strength of schedule and their margin of victory. Several of these individual teams served as big time pipelines to major college programs. Many of the players would go on to decide future National titles in college.
#1) De La Salle (Conord, California) 2001 Most sports fans have heard of the infamous 151 game winning streak by De La Salle High School in Concord, California. Led by head coach Bob Ladicer, the Spartans didn’t loose for over 12 years. During that streak they boasted numerous NFL and division 1 prospects. The team that standouts over the others, is the 2001 version of the Spartans. They started the season ranked 1 nationally in some publications, but the USA Today ranked them 2nd behind Long Beach Poly. There defense only returned four starters and had to replace All-American linebacker Kevin Simon, who moved on to Tennessee. Their defense still managed four shutouts. Unlike some seasons in the streak, the Spartans faced two nationally ranked teams in the 2001 season. Although, they were never in danger of loosing a game. Head coach Bob Ladicer was probably the best high school football coach ever. The 2001 team exemplified everything the program was about. Their veer offensive illustrated their simple approach to the game. Instead of flashy gimmicks De La Salle was simply more discipline and hard working than any team they ran into. While effort and fundamentals were their backbone, the team had no shortage of talent. Led by junior running back and future NFL star Maurice Jones-Drew, the 5-7 bulldozer racked up 1,043 yards and 22 touchdowns on just 75 touches during the 2001 season (13.9 YPC). He performed even better in big games, racking up 365 yards rushing (14.6 yards per carry) and eight touchdowns in three postseason games. Quarterback Matt Guiterez had his pick of big time schools, as he was ranked 88th in the country. He was recruited by the likes of Michigan, Notre Dame and Tennessee, eventually he spent some time in the NFL. He had a big senior season in 2001 with 3,300 passing yards and 33 touchdowns. The team had another big time weapon in two way starter Demetrius Williams. A blur with the Spartans, he was a three-year starter at wideout for Oregon, where he had 11 100-yard receiving games. He played in the NFL for 5 seasons. The standout lineman was two way starter and nationally ranked Derek Landri. The tackle was the highest rated prospect the Spartans had. During his senior season of 2001, he was named California’s Mr. Football. He went on to start at Notre Dame for three years, before staring in the NFL for 5 years. The depth of the program was unquestioned. Defensive back and future Oregon Duck, Willie Glasper was a sophomore on the team. Juniors Chan and Erik Sandie were both Division I recruits on the offensive line. Sophomore and future NFL pro bowler TJ Ward wasn't good enough to play a down the Spartans that year. Future top 25 recruit nationally, wide recover Cameron Colvin only played occasionally for the team. Their biggest match-up of the season was the 5th game, which was against the number 1 ranked Long Beach Poly. Known as “The Streak vs The Beach” the game has been documented as the first No. 1 vs No. 2 game in US prep football history. Since the start of the 1997 season The Beach went 57-1-1. 20001 Long Beach Poly was widely regarded as the most talented in school history, with six players listed in SuperPrep's top 100. The New York Times as well as 120 other media outlets requested credentials for the game. A live telecast was available nationwide on DirecTV, and attendance at Veterans Stadium in Long Beach swelled to 17,321. Scalpers were charging up to $50 for $10 tickets. The Spartans were peeved about going into any game relegated to second. De La Salle hadn’t lost since Dec. 4, 1991. Although the game was competitive, Long Beach was no match for De La Salle’s ground game as they won 29 to 15. Before the game, no one knew the name of junior running back Maurice Drew. He finished the game with 165 total yards and 4 touchdowns. After the game he said “I read the quotes in the paper, and it was like they had all these star players and we didn't have anybody." The National champions demolished every other team that came in their path. They won 56-14 over defending Central Section champ Buchanan of Clovis, then two weeks later in Stockton took apart southern California powerhouse Mater Dei 34-6. They outplayed foes in the playoffs outscoring them 147-28 in the 4A Playoffs. The Spartans finished the season undefeated and were able to push the streak forward. When the season finished they were ranked as the number one team in the nation by USA today and Rise/ESPN.
#2) Vigor (Prichard, Alabama) 1988 1988 Vigor was the greatest team the state of Alabama has ever produced. Five members of the 1988 team went on to play professionally in the NFL or CFL, Mitch Davis, Roosevelt Patterson, Willie Anderson, Albert Reese and Kevin Lee, all went on to play professionally in the NFL or CFL. Over 20 players ended up playing division 1 football. The Entire defense returned from the season before. Their speed, size and skill was simply unmatched. The Wolves outscored their opponents 387-44, including 148-7 in the playoffs. No foe got closer than 14 points. By season’s end, the Wolves had a 25-game winning streak. The only team from Alabama that can boast a national title on its resume. "The players bought into our system -- whatever you asked them to do," head coach Perine said. "You know a lot of kids you can't find? Those kids were there and ready to go each and every week.” The talent level at Vigor was ridiculous, 11 players went on to play at mid major division 1 programs, while 9 played at major college football schools. Future Auburn Tiger Darrell "Lectron" Williams was named Mr. Football after rushing for 1,706 yards on 235 carries, before injuring his knee in the championship. Vigor quarterback Kelvin Simmons, was a dual threat at quarterback. He threw for 1,498 yards and accounted for 22 touchdowns. Kevin Lee, Bruce McGree and Ryan Blakeley returned at wide receiver. The trio known as McBlakeLee combined for 44 catches and 1,097 yards along with 8 touchdowns. Kevin Lee ended up catching passes at Auburn. Duane Lewis, 5-11, 180, fullback played at Jackson State. Their two most talent players ended up never playing in college or the NFL, mostly due to their criminal record. Every position had a potential Division I football player in it," Darrell Williams said. "Twenty-two people, 11 on defense, 11 on offense and each a Division I talent. People ask me all the time: What made you guys so much better than everybody else? We had no weaknesses. The most competition that we experienced was at practice. If you wanted to see some hellacious competition, come to our practice and see our first-string offense go against our first-string defense". Defensive end Adrian Jackson 6-3, 210 was an excellent pass rusher before he went on to Auburn. Lineman Roosevelt Patterson played at Alabama, where he helped the Tide win the national title in 1992. Norvie Chambers, 6-0, 170, defensive back signed with Florida A&M and defensive back Bradley Craig, signed with Memphis State. Linebacker Mitch Davis, a junior in 1988, signed with Georgia the next year. The hard hitting Cleon Jones was a junior on the squad that went on to sign with South Carolina. The Wolves won their 25th straight game in front of over 20,000 fans, including Auburn Coach Pat Dye, Alabama Coach Bill Curry and Florida State Coach Bobby Bowden. During the contest Vigor put on a display and assured their legacy as one of the best high school football teams to ever take the field. Vigor became the first team to win back to back championships in Alabama's largest classification since 1976. Their opponents, Berry high school did not cross midfield until the second half. Berry was able to get on the scoreboard shortly before halftime on a 6 yard touchdown pass, breaking a scoreless streak of 25 straight quarters for the defense. Vigor completed its 13-0 season by beating Berry 41-7 in the 6A championship game at Legion Field. Roosevelt Patterson, a 1988 All-State lineman for Vigor, "I don't think there's a team that compares to our team. We had all the pieces to the puzzle. Teams like that probably come along once in a lifetime. We were hard-working and talented. Most teams that might be talented, they don't be hard workers. We worked all year 'round. I think it's going to take a while for another team to be like that '88 team." Vigor received national recognition following the season and were named by ESPN as the 1988 high school national champions. They finished 2nd in the USA Today poll behind Pine Forest of Pensacola, Florida. At the end of the year, there were efforts to get them together, but the high school associations squashed the idea. This might have been the first ESPN nationally televised high school game had it been played.
#3) St. Thomas Aquinas (Ft. Lauderdale, Florida) 2010
Saint Thomas Aquinas has always been known as a football dynasty in Florida. In 2010 they lost 4 future NFL players from the previous year and still had enough talent to win a national title. This team was able to pull talent from across the nation, a clear advantage that most high schools don’t have. Aquinas had a superior passing game which featured 3 big time weapons. Their point and turnover differential was among the best of all time. The 2010 team was back for revenge, off their 2009 state championship defeat. The prep school circuit has given birth to new teams that are loaded, with out of town talent. Although they are allowed to pull talent from around the nation, they usually faced far stiffer competition than other powerhouse schools. Aquinas thrived under intense national competition and a reasonable amount of travel. A number of their players contributed at big time college football programs. Jacob Rudock was a feared Quarterback in high school, he eventually went to Iowa after he had his pick of big time schools. His biggest weapons were future NFL players receivers Phillip Dorsett and Rashadd Greene. The speedster Dorsett went on to the U, before staring in the NFL. Greene helped Florida State win a championship in 2014. Star tackle Bobby Hart protected Rudock’s blindside, he also went on to play for the Seminoles. Austin Barron who signed with Florida Sate, was a bruiser on the inside line for Aquinas. Did I mention they had future Olympic sprinter Arman Hall at wide receiver. The defense was just as nasty as the offense. Defensive back Marcus Robertson was a standout corner for Aquinas before he went on to be drafted by the Rams. Defensive end Bryan Cox Jr clogged running lanes before going off to play for the Gators. Sophomore defensive end and future NFL superstar Joey Bosa made a significant impact at a young age. Linebackers Cole Champion and Tyler Drake were also division 1 prospects. Johnny Joseph a top 100 corner back nationally, went to Bowling Green. Pass rusher Jelani Hamilton went on to Akron and running back Fred Coppet played at Bowling Green. They played several supposed national powers in the pre-season. They throttled Skyline of Dallas, 31-3 in week 1. In week 4 they destroyed Georgia power Camden County 42-28, in which they racked up over 600 yards of offense. The 42-28 score was the closest any team would get to upsetting Aquinas all season. The playoffs were their own personal joke racking up nearing 200 points, while only giving up only 27 points. Completing an undefeated season they finished 1st in the ESPN national poll. The Raiders capped off a dominant season by dismantling defending 5A champion Plant 29-7. While South Panoa high school of Mississippi was named the number one team in the country by multiple polls, there is much doubt that they could have competed with the excellence of Aquinas. Many cried foul that the two teams couldn't agree on a match-up date, leaving the mystery forever unanswered. One thing isn't up for debate however, Aquinas faced a way tougher schedule than South Panoa ever thought about playing.
#4) Jack Yates (Houston, Texas) 1985 The 1985 Yates Lions were special, they finished 16-0 while racking up a record 659 points. A great pool of talent and depth separated the team from its opponents. Their offense was unstoppable and their defense posted 8 shutouts giving up only 4.8 points per game. They were voted the team of the decade by the Texas media. The players made ultimate sacrifices to ensure their path to success, "We gave up everything," running back Johnny Bailey said after the state championship game. How determined were the Lions you ask? Linebacker Melvin Foster admitted that the team “Even gave up girls”. Five players from the team, including Johnny Bailey, Melvin Foster, Quinton Smith, Zeno Alexander and Santana Dotson, went on to play in the NFL. Quarterback Charlie Price threw for 25 touchdowns in 1985. His best receiver Quinton Smith played college football at Kansas. Zeno Alexander, Darron Nash, Ronald Moore, Charles Price, Quinton Smith, James Goode, Larry Gill, Gregory Garrett, Kenneth Payne, Reginald Breggs and James Christian were all on the 1985 Chronicle All-HISD Team. The roster was so loaded that Santana Dotson, a future NFL starter came off the bench. Their biggest star might have been middle linebacker Melvin Foster. Foster was a top 40 player nationally and recruited by a bevy of big time programs. The all-state selection was the leader of the defense, before moving on to an All Big-Ten career at Iowa. They faced a bevy of legit challengers on their way to a state record 16 wins. They faced Odessa Permian in the final, as well as powerhouses Milby, Jones, Skyline and Westmount. The Lions would clean shop in the playoffs, getting in only one close game. They pulled out a close 21-15 win over Jones in the semi-finals. In the 5A state championship, the media widely predicted Yates would loose by 2 touchdowns. True to form, the Lions performed at their peak, in their biggest game of the season. They went on to dominant the defending champs Odessa Permian, 37-0. There has been much debate about the greatest football team in the history of Texas. Among the teams discussed are 1988 Carter, 1985 Yates, 2015 Allen, 2006 Southlake, 1983 Daingerfield and Abilene 1956. The 85’ team was voted “Team of the Decade” by the Houston Chronicle and Dave Campbell’s Texas Football. Yates defense was known for their overwhelming speed, which suffocated every offense they faced. Several media members argued that the Yates defense is the deciding factor for the discussion of best team in Texas history. Many analysts also point to the Lions potent offense which still holds the record for points scored in a season. Yates displayed characteristics that often lead to success at any level. They were the ultimate collection of players willing to make unique sacrifices. The Lions displayed a discipline style that might have been the difference. My nod for the best team in Texas history goes to the 85 Yates Lions.
#5) McKinley (Canton, Ohio) 1997 Led by a bevy of players that went on to star at Ohio State, the 1997 McKinley team is the best team Ohio ever produced. McKinley scored 592 points on the season while only giving up 151. They went wire to wire as the number 1 ranked team in the nation. The 1997 team featured three future NFL players, senior FB-LB Jamar Martin, senior TE-DE Kenny Peterson and junior RB-S Mike Doss, all of whom attended Ohio State after graduation. McKinley boasted several other Division I college players, including a trio of future Kent State players. Demarlo Rozier was that season’s County Player of the Year and Ben McDaniels finished as the school’s career passing leader. McKinley played a murderous schedule facing 5 powerhouse teams in the state of Ohio. They also played St. Thomas Aquinas a national power from Florida. The toughest game, came against Cleveland St. Ignatius in which they won 35-32. The Bulldogs generally depressed their opponents, in their first six games they beat Akron Garfield, GlenOak, Jackson, Mentor, Glenville and Central Catholic by a combined score of 314-31. They destroyed St. Thomas Aquinas 70-0 and then Massillon 27-14. In week 8 they beat Warren Harding 30-9 at Youngstown State. The game cost McKinley a key player, LB Rashan Hall (who tore the MCL in his right knee and was lost for the year). “They were all very decisive wins and we had to manage that the right way so the kids didn’t become complacent,” Thom McDaniels said. “I know in their churches and barber shops and neighborhoods, they were being told they were even better than the scores indicated. The coach continued “To be honest with you, I never really felt like we were going to lose ever. Whether it was before the game, before the season, during the week, during the game, during the fourth quarter, I never felt like we were going to lose in high school.” McKinley faced some elite competition in the playoffs. While there was close games, McKinley showed their ability to grind out tough games. In the second round of the playoffs they gutted out a 25-22 win over St. Francis. In the semifinal they faced they're rival St. Ignatius, the game was a war. It took all 48 minutes for the Bulldogs to pull out the 20-19 victory. In the state final they faced national power Moeller of Cincinnati, claiming the state crown with a 31-16 victory. Head coach McDaniels saw how a committed group of high school kids can achieve something special. They set a number of records during the season most wins 14, most points 592, most TDs 84, most offensive yards 5,062. That atmosphere was probably the coolest atmosphere I’ve ever been a part of,” head coach Ben McDaniels said. “I’ve coached at ‘The Horseshoe,’ I’ve coached in Ann Arbor, I’ve coached in a playoff game in the NFL and I’ve coached on Monday Night Football.” They finished the number 1 ranked team by any media outlet that mattered. Debate between the two best teams Ohio ever produced always starts and end with McKinley 1997 vs Moeller Cincinnati 1976. My money is on the 97 Bulldogs.
#6) Carter High School (Dallas, Texas) 1988
The focus of ESPN’s 30 for 30 documentary, What Carter Lost highlighted this ultra talented team. Featuring future NFL players Jessie Armstead, Le'Shai Maston and Clifton Abraham, Carter went 14-0-1 in 1988. Although troubled, the 88 team is thought by some to be the best team Texas has ever produced. The speed and pure talent of Carter overwhelmed a schedule riddled with powerhouse opponents. The Cowboys beat nationally ranked Odessa Permian, the team that inspired Friday Night Lights. Their defense was exceptionally fast and physical, several teams were scared to compete with them. They allowed 7.9 points per game and never surrendered more than 24 points in any contest. Their pass rush was easily one of the greatest in high school history. On the other hand, a cloud of scandal and regret will forever shape the memory of their team. The 1988 team had 21 players who were offered college scholarships. A few division 1 prospects wound up being charged with robbery (more on that later) and their scholarships were pulled. Still 15 seniors from that team earned FBS scholarships. The straw that stirred the drink was two-way All-American Jesse Armstead. The future five time NFL pro bowler was unstoppable to say the least. Armstead stated himself that Carter’s defense was the "best ever in Texas high school and in the nation.” During his career Armstead made some crippling hits, leading one of the best group of pass rushers in high school history. One local newspaper claimed that the linebacker injured 20 different players during his senior season. He even made the winning touchdown catch in the state title game. Carter’s QB that year, Robert Hall, went on to a banner career at Texas Tech and is a member of the program’s Hall of Fame. Wide Receiver Gary Edwards was one of the top receivers in the nation. He had a long list of division one schools after him. Edwards originally signed with Houston, and Derric Evans, signed with Tennessee, although neither would ever play college ball. Evans was known as a dominant defensive back who announced his decision to attend Tennessee while sitting in a hot tub. Le'Shai Maston, a running back, signed with Baylor and went on to play for five seasons in the NFL. Clifton Abraham, a defensive back, played at Florida State and went on to have a three-year NFL career. The Dallas school faced a good schedule that featured several out of district Texas programs. The only close game they played all year was against the legendary Odessa Permian. They also played powerhouses John Tyler and Killeen in the regular season. Carter faced a unique hardship that few others had to deal with. Because of a mistake made by a teacher, one of their star players was ruled ineligible. The team faced multiple court hearings with the Texas state legislator, the hearings would determine if they would be eligible to continue playing. The controversy was a hot topic in the state, it was complicated by mysterious academic rule changes 3 years either. Star receiver Gary Edwards, was originally ruled ineligible with the University Interscholastic League and the Texas Education Agency. They tried to remove Carter from the playoffs and the Dallas Independent School District ended up appealing the decision. Carter was allowed to play, and they beat Permian 14-9 in that semifinal. Carter then beat Converse Judson 31-14 to win the state title. After their 88 season the players were cult figures in their local community. Cops would stop them to take pictures, they ate free at restaurants and even autographed a baby. However, Edwards, Evans and 10 other teammates were arrested for armed robbery in Dallas in May 1989. The players were eligibly part of 21 different armed robberies. Edwards was sentenced to 16 years in prison. Evans, a high school All-American, was sentenced to 20 years in prison on four armed robbery counts. Head coach Dennis Parker of Marshall High School, that had played all the best talent of the era. He had played against 1985 Yates, lost to Carter in 1988, and lost twice to Permian in 1989. He was quoted as saying “Carter was the best team because of its exceptional speed on defense.” D.W. Rutledge head coach of Judson high lost to Carter in the 1988 final also thinks that Carter was the best team of the 80’s. Coach Dan Hooks, whose West Orange-Stark team lost to Yates in 1985, agrees that Carter had the superior talent.
#7) Lakeland (Florida) 2006 Florida has a rich history of football second to only Texas. 2006 Lakeland may be their crowning jewel. This team possessed a running game that most division one colleges would envy. Their state championship culminated for their 3rd consecutive and their 2nd straight USA Today Championship. Although they outscored opponents by 500 points, they faced some tough games. The tough games strengthen their resume, all of the close games were against top 50 teams nationally. The defense allowed only 93 points in 15 games. 10 players went on to play football in the SEC. This team went wire to wire as the number one ranked team in the nation. Seven players went on to star at the University of Florida, they become known as the Gator Naughts. The future Gators would later prove to be a serious contributors to Florida's championship runs of the late 2000’s. They may have had the greatest rushing attack in high school football history. This teams mentality was simple, run, run and run some more. Although the passing game wasn't chopped liver, no one in the state could contend with the pure power of the burly offensive line. Led by future NFL pro bowl twins Maurkice and Mike Pouncey, the two obliterated defensive lines. The Pouncey twins cleared space for All-American running back Chris Rainey, he flew around the field on his way to 2,478 rushing yards and 32 touchdowns. The speedster had 15 touchdown runs of 50 yards or more. To compliment the running game Wide receiver Paul Wilson was a sure handed target for the Dreadnaught's. Defense tackle John Brown overwhelmed opponents and originally signed with Tennessee before his grades forced him the junior college route. Amahad Black rounded the defense out at the Safety position. Black was an intimidating presence on defense, later he played 3 years in the NFL with Tampa Bay. Linebacker Steve Wilks was a hard hitting linebacker for the Lakeland. Besides the bevy of players that signed with Florida, 3 other players went on to play SEC football. Jamar Taylor was a great addition to the running game before heading off to Alabama. Tight ends Jordan Hammond and Jordon Corbin both signed with LSU. With the nickname Dreadnaught's one could expect the school and fan base to have pretty crazy traditions, this assumption would be correct. Many of their fans wear a full fledged battle ship hats to all of the games. Their also known for their famous golf cart, which features a Lakeland helmet as the outer shell of the cart. In 2006 the Dreadnaught's played the toughest schedule in the entire country. Their monster schedule began with their first real test in St. Xavier of Cincinnati Ohio. In a brut physical game the Dreadnaught's won by 3 in overtime. Local Florida school Osceola High School gave them a scare in a close 7 - 3 victory. In a rivalry game they beat Kathleen High 29-26. They faced loaded national power St. Thomas Aquinas in the State Final. They featured future NFL players James White, Giovanni Bernard, Phillip Dorsett and Rashad Greene. They won in 2OT by a score of 45 - 42. In the contest, Rainey worked Aquinas with over 270 yards on the ground.
#8) Miami Northwestern Senior High School (Florida) 2007 Northwestern has a tradition that is among the best in the nation. The rare public school that dominates year after year. Miami Northwestern might soon hold the distinction of producing the most players to excel at the NFL level. Over 14 NFL pro bowlers have walked the halls of Northwestern. The school has produced football stars such as Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Antonio Bryant, Denver Broncos linebacker Nate Webster, and Miami Dolphins offense tackle Vernon Carey. Despite their winning tradition and continued dominance, the school has only been named the number one team by USA today one time. By all accounts the 2007 team was simply remarkable. That team holds the title of the greatest team in the programs history. They had numerous division one players, including 8 players that would go on to play at the University of Miami. Similar to many teams on this list, Northwestern served as a feeder to their local University. Star Quarterback Jacory Harris threw for 3,445 yards and 49 touchdowns as a senior. Aldarius Johnson, Kendal Thompkins and Tommy Streeter were a nasty trio at wide recover, together they accounted for over 2,400 receiving yards and 38 touchdowns. Linebacker Sean Spence and lineman Marcus Forston, Ben Jones, Brandon Washington also signed with Miami. Besides the future Hurricane players, the Bulls had plenty of talent. Future NFL Pro Bowler Lavonte David went largely unnoticed and unappreciated. He was outstanding, but despite his play, division 1 major colleges cited his size as a major concern. David would go on to star at Nebraska where he would break their school record for most tackles. As a senior, David made more than 100 tackles, with three quarterback sacks, two interceptions. Future West Virginia running back Daquan Hargett was featured at running back and recorded over 880 yards and 12 touchdowns. Although just a sophomore future Louisville running back Corvin Lamb rushed for 350 yards and 4 touchdowns. Ranked the No. 1 team in the country, Northwestern traveled to No. 2 Southlake (Texas) Carroll. Northwestern's superior speed beat out Carroll's historic four-year run of 49 consecutive wins. A crowd of 31,896 at Gerald J. Ford Stadium watched as Miami Northwestern won the contest 29-21. They won their second straight Class 6A state championship, defeating Boone 41-0. Miami-bound QB Jacory Harris passed for 281 yards and 2 TDs. The defense recorded its fifth shutout and coach Billy Rolle pocketed a 3rd state championship. They beat up Deerfield Beach 19-14, in Class 6A semifinals at the Orange Bowl. Tyresse Jones' five-yard TD run with 18 seconds remaining capped a 12-play, 99-yard drive. The Bulls won their 29th straight and equaled the Dade County record for most consecutive victories. Northwestern won back-to-back state titles in 2006 and 2007. They were listed as mythical national champions by USA Today in 2007. Giving the state of Florida a 3 year run, with one of their high school teams winning the high school national championship.
#9) Warner Robbins (Georgia) 1976 The best team the state of Georgia has ever produced, was the 1976 Warner Robbins team. They only gave up 86 points all year, while scoring 614 points. Their defense is considered one of the greatest ever, they had 8 shutouts (including the state championship). Robbins had plenty of stars with 5 future NFL players. Perhaps their greatest weapon was their star studded running game. One of the best ground attacks ever, featured two future college standouts in the backfield. The powerful Jimmy Womack was a big bruising full back who blocked for future NFL player James Brooks. In college Womack led the way at Georgia for Hershell Walker’s Heisman winning season. Womack racked up 1,467 yards on the ground as a senior in 1976. Future 4 time NFL pro-bowler James Brooks was a dynamo with the ball, quick but still strong enough to break tackles and stay on his feet. He would go on to star at Auburn before staring for both the Bengals and Chargers in the NFL. Brooks rushed for 1,810 yards as a senior. Another standout was two way star Ron Simmons, who went to star at Florida State. There he was an All-American nose guard, before he spent 4 years playing pro football. Simmons even finished 9th in Heisman voting despite being a defensive tackle. Wide receiver Phil Williams accepted a scholarship to Florida State. Jesse Canion played at East Carolina and fellow defensive back Rusty Smith played at Navy. They faced the top competition of Georgia throughout the season. Like others on the list, they won all their games by a pretty good margin. Their closest game of the season was against Hardaway, in a 35-28 win. Besides that game no other team came within 14 points. They went insane in the playoffs beating down three teams by a total score of 132-7. They shutout powerhouse Griffin high school 34-0 in the state final. After their dominant playoff run they were named Georgia state champions and "mythical" co-national champions with Moeller High School of Ohio.
#10) Allen High School (Texas) 2013 The most recent team on our list was 2013 Allen, a dominant collection of college talent. The star power was overwhelming with more than 18 division 1 prospects. Although the changing of rules has made it much easier for teams to score, this team was simply an offensive god. No team held them under 31 points the entire season. Kyler Murray, who is regarded as arguably the top Texas high school football quarterback of all time, was the leader of this Allen squad. Murray had his pick of schools before ultimately ending up at Oklahoma. He was so outstanding at Allen that he was invited to the ESPY’s during his senior season. “The ESPYs had to be the pinnacle. It was like I was just walking on a cloud while I was there,” Murray said. During his junior season he threw for 3,669 and 46 touchdowns. He also racked up 1,328 yards on the ground to go along with 18 touchdowns. Eventually he was invited to play in the Under Armour All-American football and baseball games. He was the Gatorade Player of the Year as a senior. Offensive tackle Bobby Evans protected Murray's blind side, he also signed with Oklahoma. Future Notre Dame wide receiver Jalen Guyton, provided a reliable target and was a constant threat in the passing game. Center Cody Wheeler, a future Texas Tech signee sured up the o-line. Linebacker Tay Evans was leader of the defense, the future Sooner intimidated opponents and provided a pass rushing nightmare for offenses. On the opposite side linebacker Christian Sam played an important role before going off to Arizona State. They also had two future division 1 players at defensive back. Chad Adams accepted a scholarship at Arizona State as did Maayomi Olootu jr at Northern Illinois. Tejan Koroma was a load on the offensive line, he would eventually suite up for BYU. Although only sophomores on the team, future Ole Miss signees OT Gregory Little and safety Jaylon Jones provided a spark for the Eagles. So ya, there star power was immense. They cruised through the regular season, with victories over the likes of Carroll and Cedar Hill. The only really competitive game Allen played was against DeSoto, which it won, 42-35. They finished the season ranked 2nd by Max Preps and 1st by USA today. Thus capturing the mythical national crown. There is no doubt this Allen team is among the best in Texas state history.
1956 Abilene Texas 14-0,1961 Washington Massillon Ohio 11-0,1969 Coral Gabels Florida 11-0, 1971 ValdostaGeoriga, 1976 Archbishop Moeller Ohio, 1978 Spring Branch Texas,1983 Daingerfield Texas 16-0, 1987 North Hills Pennsylvania, 1988 Pine Forest Florida, 1989 Crenshaw California, 1989 Odessa Permian Texas 15-0, 1990 Ruston Lousiana, 1991 Inglewood High California, 1992 Valdosta Georgia 14-0, 1994 John Tyler Texas,1998 West Monroe Lousiana,1999 Evangel Christian Lousiana, 1999 De La Salle California 13-0, 1999 Madison Central (Miss), 2001Long Beach Poly California 12-1, 2003 Pine Bluff Arkansas 15-0,2004 Colerain Ohio,2005 Southlake Caroll Texas 16-0, 2006 Oaks Christian California, 2007 Miami Northwestern Florida 15-0,2007 St. Xavier Ohio 15-0,2008 Centennial California,2010 South Panola Mississippi 14-0, 2011 Don Bosco Prep New Jersey 11-0,2015 Katy Texas, 2016 Bishop Gorman Nevada 15-0.
We breakdown the best pitches in baseball history and the pitchers that threw them best. There have been many variations of pitch types and the way those pitches are gripped. However we tried to focus our study on 16 individual pitches.
Curveball - Sandy Kofax One of the oldest known pitches in baseball, the curveball has been around since 1860. While great men have tried to achieve the perfect curve, only a few can really make a case for that claim. Sandy Kofax curve seem to strike more fear in his opponents hearts than anyone. Kofax truly puzzled his opponents with his massive breaking ball. His curve was a classic 12-6 curve with the classic wrist snap and the magic forward rotation all culminating in a great curve. The Kofax signature pitch dropped vertically 12 to 24 inches due to his exaggerated arm motion. Kofax also tipped his curve ball and it didn't seem to help hitters out at all. The lefty’s strange elongated alien fingers were his greatest weapon. The extra long fingers allowed Kofax to throw the curveball with extra spin that wasn't often seem from anyone. Pittsburgh Pirates great Willie Stargell once commented that hitting off of Kofax was like “trying to drink coffee with a fork.” Mr. Cub, shortstop Ernie Banks once described it, “Sandy’s curve had a lot more spin than anyone else’s. It spun like a fastball coming out of his hand. It jumped at the end.” Reliever Rob Neyer called it “the best curve of all time”. One slugger most pitchers were forbidden to throw a curveball to was Mickey Mantle. The “Mick” was so strong that even if he was fooled on a curve, he could keep his hands back and drive the ball out of the park. During Mantle’s second at bat of the 1963 World Series (Mantle struck out his first time up). Ball comes in high, just before reaching the plate it dives, crossing the plate by Mantle’s knees. Mantle never moves the bat, umpire calls strike three. Mantle stands there, then turns to the catcher and says, “How the fuck is anybody supposed to hit that shit?”. The best Kofax story came over 15 years after he retried. When coaching briefly for the Los Angeles Dodgers, he would sometimes throw batting practice. On this day, the batter asked Kofax to throw his famous deuce. So Kofax indulged his request, and begins to throw his hook. First curve comes, swing and miss. Another comes, same result. Then several more big Kofax hooks go by untouched. By this time the entire Dodgers roster was in hysterics. The hitter eventually gives up and others want a piece of the action. The 45 year old Kofax proceeds to embarrass the entire LA lineup (Dodger line-up with Sax, Garvey, Baker and Cey), not one of them touched his curve. Eventually the great Tommy Lasorda walked out to the mound and asked him to stop. He told Kofax that he didn't want his hitters mentally destroyed just before a post seasons series, because they can’t hit a one-pitch man in his 40’s. Big league scout Tim Dempsey once commuted “Koufax’s curve may have been the very toughest curve to hit ever, because of its steep north-south drop, offering less time in the strike zone.” The sharp breaking ball took a tremendous toll on the arm of Sandy. Over time the blood began draining from his left index finger, leaving it numb. Although Sandy dominated for only 5 seasons, no one can argue with his curveball when it was on. Runner Up: Barry Zito
Knuckleball - Hoyt Willhelm Perhaps the Godfather of the modern knuckleball, Hoyt Willhelm’s knuckleballs were so wicked catchers were forced to use larger gloves when catching him. Although their have been many great knuckles, none have been thrown with more movement. He played for nine different teams during his career, racking up 228 saves to go with a 2.52 ERA. The reliever was able to play in 8 All-Star games and pitched till the age of 49. He was the first pitcher to reach 200 saves, and the first to appear in 1,000 games. Most of those accomplishments are compliments of the knuckleball. Throwing the pitch required several different procedure steps to ensure its delivery. He carefully aligned his fingers not to touch the laces and then guided the ball out with his fingertips. Willhelm always had to make sure his fingernails were trimmed to a t, as he was often seen with nail clippers throughout his career. Many think that Phil Niekro was a better knuckleball pitcher, of course Wilhelm was the one that taught Nieko the knuckleball. Former teammate Moose Skowron commented on Wilhelm's key pitch, saying, "He threw the best knuckleball I ever saw. You never knew what Hoyt's pitch would do. I don't think he did either.” Executive Roland Hemond agreed, saying, "Wilhelm's knuckleball did more than anyone else’s”. "He had the best knuckleball you'd ever want to see," said Brooks Robinson. "He knew where it was going when he threw it, but when he got two strikes on you, he'd break out one that even he didn't know where it was going.” In a funny way a passed balls that get by the catcher are a bags of honor for a knuckleballer, specially at the major league level. These catchers are top of the line and some of them have serious trouble catching the pitch. During one of Wilhelm's appearances that season, catcher Ray Katt committed four passed balls in one inning to set the major league record. Orioles catchers had difficulty catching Wilhelm again in 1959 and they set an MLB record with 49 passed balls. Runner Up: Phil Neikro
Fastball - Nolan Ryan Throwing a baseball 100 mph is a rare physical feat that 1 and every million person could achieve. In a world of special grips and breaking pitches, the fastball has always stayed true. Some believe the pitch is the ultimate symbol of essence and truth in sports. Hall of Fame pitcher Nolan Ryan always had a fastball that was a cut above the rest. Mr. October Reggie Jackson probably summed the pitcher up best "Ryan is the only guy who puts fear in me. Not because he can get you out but because he can kill you." A legendary Ryan story goes like this, Bo Jackson hit a line drive back at the mound that struck Nolan Ryan in the face. Blood shot out of his lip and splattered on his uniform. Ryan found the ball on the ground and calmly picked it up for the out at first. When Bo came up to bat again no one was left sitting in their seats. We were pumped and cheered because everyone in Arlington Stadium knew what was coming. Four pitches were thrown, all fastballs, and they were the fastest pitches I'll ever see. Bo nicked one of them, but couldn't catch up to the other three.” Major league baseball decided it would start measuring the speed of the pitch right out of the pitchers hand in 1997. When Ryan was recorded, they measured the velocity of the pitches 10 feet from the plate. It means Ryan’s fastball would probably clock someone around 105 mph, much different than the 100 mph accounted to him by the Guinness Book of World Records. Not to mention his first measurement was made in the 9th inning of a start. Aroldis Chapman’s pitch at 105.1mph is the fastest in the record books but probably wasn’t truly faster than Ryan’s record setting pitch. That’s because when the two pitches crossed the plate, Chapman’s pitch was moving at an estimated 96.5mph while Nolan Ryan’s was still moving at a staggering 99.1mph. He was 46, when he tore his ulnar collateral ligament on September 22nd, 1993. He threw one last pitch in order to test his arm before coming out of the game. That pitch was clocked at 98mph, outstanding considering that he didn’t have a functioning elbow. Some feats of longevity are simply more impressive than others. Ryan’s fastball stayed true until his upper 30’s and even 40s. Spanning 3 different decades Ryan dominated for 27 major league seasons. The most impressive Ryan stat might stand forever, he struck out 5,714 batters, next highest is Randy Johnson with 4,875 strikeouts. The un-hittable than Hall of Famer set the all-time records for strikeouts (5,714), hits per nine innings (6.6) and no-hitters (seven). Ryan holds the single-season record for strikeouts (383 in 1973), topped 300 six times, and led his league in strikeouts 11 times (4 from 1987-1990, when he was 40-43). Runner-up Aroldis Chapman
Slider - Randy Johnson The hard breaking ball that tails down and away through the hitters zone. The speed thrown on a slider is often harder than a curveball. It includes a downwards pull on the ball as it is released, its released off the index finger. Movement is thought to be created from a mixture of fingertip pressure and grip. The pitcher with the nastiest slider was California native Randy Johnson. One of the most intimidating pitchers in the history of baseball. The 6-10 lefty threw a mostly sidearm delivery, usually resulted in very high velocities. His great size gave him a release point that few batters had ever seen before. His slider dipped about 15 inches and was thrown at 90 mph. The pitch was notorious for running on the hands of right handed batters and running away from lefties. His slider results in many more ground balls compared to other pitchers' sliders and produced a extremely high number of swings & misses. The combination of Johnson's size, his release point and his velocity has made him almost every hitter's least favorite pitcher. Jack Wilson of the Pirates commented “I think it's the greatest strikeout pitch ever, right up there with Nolan Ryan's fastball. Randy's slider might be the best slider in the history of the game." Checkout this clip of Johnson's slider via the catcher cam. Johnson’s slider gave some of the best hitters alive serious problems. Fittingly, the player with the most career at-bats against Johnson got embarrassed. Hall of Famer Rickey Henderson went 7-for-59 with zero RBIs and 30 strikeouts. Hall of Famer Tony Gwyenn said, "The slider is unhittable for a left-handed hitter. I'd bet the farm it's coming, and I still can't hit it. I got a hit off it once, and I wanted to keep the ball.” The most fitting tribute to the greatness of Randy Johnson came in the playoffs when Baltimore Orioles manager Davey Johnson benched his three best left-handed hitters, Rafael Palmeiro, B.J. Surhoff and Roberto Alomar (a switch-hitter, but an injury prevented him from batting right-handed) in the first and fourth games of the American League Division Series against the Seattle Mariners. "Raffy told me that he'd like to play against Randy," Johnson said before Game 1 of his first baseman, who had hit 38 homers and driven in 110 runs that season. "But he told me that Randy could mess him up for two weeks. That was all I needed to hear.” Ex-slugger Chipper Jones had his ups and downs against the Big Unit. “I've also seen him make a ton of mistakes, but his stuff is so good, he gets away with them. If he's on, and your swing is off even a little, he's going to get you, and he's going to make you look really bad. I don't know how left-handed hitters hit him. I thank God every day that my dad made me a switch-hitter.” Runner Up: Steve Carlton
Change-Up - Pedro Martinez Many pitchers have dominated the game via the off speed pitch. Mastering the off speed pitch is really more about changing your speeds to make the hitters uncomfortable. The real master of the pitch is Pedro Martinez. Sure, pedro had the 98 mph fastball but it made the change-up even more deadly. Martinez displayed pinpoint control that was uncanny. The pitch helped him to 3 Cy Young awards, 8x all-star appearances and the 1999 Triple Crown award. The best change ups are thrown with a similar arm slot and speed, but "fall" at the end, while being anywhere from 7 to 15 MPH slower than a typical fastball. His changeup made the best power hitters look like they were trying out for the ballet. They would be so far out in front of the ball they could swing twice and still not make contact. Early in his career when his velocity was in the upper 90s he was nearly flawless. Batters would expect the speedy fastball and nearly always be burned with the changeup. Pedro used the circle grip for his change up, his long fingers also allowed his for extra spin when the ball was released. Because of his natural motion the pitch would appear to tail away from left handed hitters. The late break caused hitters enormous frustration and is probably the reason Pedro’s change up is the best. You just can’t account for natural movement. Martinez was careful to throw his changeup with the same arm speed as his fastball to deceive the hitter. His footwork was impeccable, giving him the needed momentum off the rubber. Like any pitcher, Martinez would make mistakes. But he was able to correct himself within the inning. One stat that illustrated the dominance of the change up was opponents swing and missed at an average of 25 percent of the time during the 2006 season. The league average for change-up swings and misses that year was only 15 percent. He threw the changeup a great deal and had more success with it than anyone. Several heroic pitching performances could be attributed to games when his changeup was on. The batters were helpless in the box against Pedro, in 1999 when he struck out 17 Yankees in a single game. Runner up: Trevor Hoffman
Cutter - Mariano Rivera Mariano Rivera’s cutter was a problem for virtually everyone he ever faced. He’s owned the patent on the pitch no one can duplicate. Batters hated him and wood bat companies worshiped him. Widely regarded as the best closer of all time, Mariano Rivera had a tremendous career filled with accolades. One evaluator commented "Mariano's cutter is the single most devastating pitch in MLB history. Probably the only pitch that was equally predictable and devastating.” Rivera's cutter has been recorded as moving 8.2 inches before reaching home plate. The next closest ever measured was the Phillies Cliff Lee at 7 inches. Anytime Rivera found himself in a tight squeeze there was little question of the pitch he would go with. The cutter made hitters look down right ridiculous, watch this at-bat where he broke the hitters bat 3 times. Everyone knew the cutter was coming, and they still couldn't hit it. Tom Verducci of Sports Illustrated confirmed that the future Hall of Famer discovered his cutter during a 1997 road series against the Detroit Tigers. According to Rivera on that June 23rd "A gift from God, was born”. “The catcher was upset at me because the ball was moving and he thought I was making the ball move," Rivera says. "From that moment, I told the pitching coach, I have no control over this. The ball is moving, and I have no control.” "Didn't matter how I grabbed the ball," Rivera recalls. "It was still moving. I told Mel that I won't be throwing no more balls in the bullpen because I need to be ready for the game. We worked a lot and this thing is still the same and let's leave it like that.” The pitch’s genius is in its simplicity: there are no tricks or gimmicks in the delivery or execution. Instead, Rivera follows this simple routine, throw the cutter, make it break too late to detect and feather it over a corner. His pitch is somewhere between a slider and a fastball, as it is usually thrown faster than a slider but with more motion than a typical fastball. The tremendous spin-rate on the cutter, requires a wrist that’s so loose and fingers that are so long they’re able to touch his wrist. His cutter spin so furiously, the rotation delivers the ball in a straight line practically to the front edge of the plate. Only then, after a hitter has begun his swing, does the cutter reveal its lateral movement. That’s what creates the illusion of a fastball until the very last moment. Since that june 23rd, his regular-season opponents have a .208 batting average. When wielding the cutter in the playoffs, lineups have combined for an microscopic .172 batting average. Among the 178 individuals with at least 1,000 innings pitched since the '97 season, Rivera owns the lowest batting average on balls in play (.260 BABIP). “It’s like a buzz-saw,” is what Chipper Jones once said. “It just eats you up, especially if you’re a left-handed hitter. You know it’s coming, but that doesn’t really help you much.” David Ortiz described, “The pitch that you swing at is a fastball. The one you make contact with is the cutter. It’s unbelievable.” Runner Up: Cliff Lee
Split-Finger Fastball - Roger Clemens The split-finger has always had more movement than its brother pitches. A split-finger fastball or splitter is a pitch in baseball derived from the forkball. It is named after the technique of putting the index and middle finger on different sides of the ball, or "splitting" them. When thrown hard, it appears to be a fastball to the batter, but appears to suddenly "drop off the table" towards home plate. Although its labeled as a fastball, the pitch actually functions as an off speed pitch. According to Mike Scioscia, the splitter was "the pitch of the ‘80s.” Six time Cy young award winner, Roger Clemens used the splitter to dominate hitters for his entire career. His splitter was known as one of the nastiest strike out pitches in baseball. The pitch would regularly dive into the dirt a good 10-15 inches before reaching home plate. The splitter helped transform Clemens from a great pitcher to the greatest living pitcher. It also helped Clemens to become the oldest starting pitcher in an all-star game and helped him to more than 3,000 strikeouts. Clemens threw the splitter early in his career he truly mastered the splitter at the age of 34. Many think it was the the chief reason the 11-time All-Star was able to pitch for another decade. Clemens learned the pitch from a well known split-finger master. "Mike Scott showed it to me at a charity golf event in Houston (in 1986). He'd had some great games with it. I honed it to my own hand because mine is different than his. We grip it the same but apply pressure to it differently. The pitch has been widely successful the excessive force on the arm has caused a lot of ball players to rethink throwing the pitch. While the spitter may have been the pitch of the 80’s few players are throwing it today. In 2011, only 15 starting pitchers used it as part of their regular repertoire. The pitch has been known to cause injury by the stress the split fingers puts on the elbow. Although several pitchers have thrown it only a few have truly thrown the pitch with longevity. Even though Clemens considers his fastball his signature pitch even he admits "If you see highlights from a 10 strikeout game, you'll see it five or six times for a strikeout.” Runner-Up: Mike Scott
Sinker - Orel Hershiser Sinkers are a pitch that behave just like they sound, with downward and horizontal movement. The sinker drops 3 to 6 inches more than a typical two-seam fastball which causes batters to hit ground balls more often than other fastballs, mostly due to the tilted sidespin on the ball. While a hard choice, Orel Hershiser was the most effective sinker ball pitcher of all time. A sinker ball pitcher often times has injury problems, but Hershiser played over a decade with Los Angeles. The fact that he he had a dog named sinker didn’t hurt his cause. Well let Hershiser tell it “I have a sinking fastball to either side of the plate, a cutter (which changes the direction of my fastball so it breaks instead of sinking), to either side of the plate, a curveball I throw at three speeds and three angles, a straight change—using the same arm speed and position as a fastball but with a grip and a release that slows it dramatically, and changeups to different locations that I throw off my sinker which look like batting practice fastballs. Different locations, different speeds, and slightly different arm angles on all those pitches give me a wide palette of choices.” "Orel showed me a foolproof way to grip the sinker, so that I didn't ever leave it up," Leary said. "One of the rules we had was: don't miss high. Make your mistakes below the knees. Orel went through his whole streak without ever making a mistake above the knees.” Hershiser threw seven shutouts in his last 11 starts in 1988. He tied a long time standing record for consecutive scoreless innings previously held by pitcher Don Drysdale. On the night of Sept. 28, Hershiser faced the Padres in San Diego needing nine shutout innings to tie Drysdale's record. "It was the best I've ever seen him pitch," says Tony Gwynn of the Padres, the best hitter in the National League and the hitter Hershiser respects the most. "Oh for four. I grounded to second base each time, each time on a sinker, although he set me up differently each time. He sure as heck knew what he was doing out there.” They worked at closing the angle a little, and Hershiser's sinker started diving more dramatically and his curveball became sharper. And that's just about when his streak began. "In a way, I am the extension of Koufax and Wallace on the mound," Hershiser says. Runner-Up: Roy Halladay
Screwball - Fernando Valenzuela The legend from the south, Fernando was an instant sensation in the MLB. His talents overtook Los Angles from the second he took the mound. One pitch truly amazed fans and hitters alike, his famous “El Turo” pitch which of course was the screwball. The pitch might have taken away from the longevity of Valezuelas career, but the pitch was as good to watch as any. A screwball itself moves bizarrely, when thrown by a right-handed pitcher, it breaks from left to right from the point of view of the pitcher; the pitch therefore moves down and in on a right-handed batter and down and away from a left-handed batter. If thrown correctly, the screwball breaks in the opposite direction of a curve ball. It’s thrown by turning the wrist and elbow to the outside, away from the body. If thrown right, the ball breaks away from right-handed hitters. Now, a screwball is like a unicorn, seldom have seen it and few believe it exists. The screwball has seen a sharp decline in recent years. Currently their isn't one guy in the majors who throws the pitch. Which all adds to the intrigue of the unusual pitch. The reasons and ideas behind it are being questioned, check out this article on the screwball’s extinction from the New York Times. When Valenzuela, then a 20-year-old rookie, faced the Expos in the deciding game of the National League Championship Series. “I’m going to throw mostly screwballs tomorrow,” Valenzuela told the coach Manny Mota over dinner. “Just watch.” Of course he would dominate that game 7 allowing no runs. Valenzuela learned the pitch two years earlier from Bobby Castillo, a mediocre reliever. “It took me a while,” Valenzuela said. “But it ended up being my best pitch.” The argument goes that throwing a screwball, Valenzuela's most reliable pitch, has put an unusual strain on his elbow and lower arm. "If you analyze it, your arm finishes in a more natural position than a curveball or something," Fernando said. "Whether it puts more strain on the arm, i'm not sure." Runner Up: Christy Mathewson
Forkball - Dave Stewart The forkball differs from the split-fingered fastball, because the ball is jammed harder between the first two fingers. The forkball is thrown with the same arm motion and velocity as a fastball. At the release point the wrist is snapped downward, creating a spin off the middle or index finger allowing for extra movement. Although generally thrown much slower than fast balls the movement is closer to the action of a tradition curveball break. When Dave Stewart had his forkball going, his was the best. After coming to Oakland in 1986, Stewart would use the forkball to win 20 games or more games in each of the next four seasons. He established himself as one of baseball's most dominant pitchers. He would finish his career with 168 wins and 1,741 strikeouts. "I always had an idea how to pitch," Stewart said. "I've just never had all the tools. The forkball made me successful." Stewart and the Death Stare put together four consecutive 20-victory seasons. The removal of the only wrinkle in his repertory, the 71-mile-an-hour forkball, essentially reduced Stewart to a very predictable pitcher. There's very little difference between his 90-m.p.h. fastball and his 88-m.p.h. curve-slider. The forkball simply stopped having its movement or effect. Thus Stewart had a tough time getting hitters out. The whole thing truly illustrated how reliant he was upon his favorite pitch. Runner-Up: Hideo Nomo
Slurve - Kerry Wood Although it has been around for a while, not much is known about the slurve. Cy young was the earliest practitioner of the slurve, having first used it in 1890. The slurve is exactly what it sounds like, combination of curveball and slider. It is thrown like a slider with the hand grip of a curveball. People think its a sloppy pitch because of its wide break. The slurve is thrown with a greater velocity than a curveball and is thrown with more downward break than a slider. They think the slurve accounts for more walks and home run balls than a late breaking slider. For this reason, fans seldom see the pitch being thrown. However when thrown correctly the slurve can be a very effective weapon for pitchers. Ex-Chicago pitching phenomenon Kerry Wood knows all about the slurve. Wood paired his upper 90’s fastball with one of baseball’s nastiest breaking balls. The slurve could be tough to throw for a strike when a pitcher is in a funk. Wood’s slurve was remarkably accurate, as it broke anywhere from 6-14 inches over the plate. In 1998 the 20 year old Kerry Wood set the baseball world on fire by striking out 20 batters. His career was derailed of injury that most blamed on the use of his slurve. But few could deny the brilliance of his beautiful breaking ball. Although Wood had a short career his slurve ball remains in baseball immortality. Check out some of his best slurve pitches ever thrown. Runner-Up: Goose Gossage
Spitball - Gaylord Perry The pitch, just as it sounds was made effective by altering the ball with spit to affect how the air interacted with the ball as it headed to the plate. There was no telling how the pitch would react once thrown. Most good spitballs have a nasty late break. The spitball was banned following the 1920 season. Since then, the pitch has resulted in a number of ejections and suspensions. The greatest spitball pitcher was easily identified as Gaylord Perry, after he authored a book titled “Me and the Spitter”. So what was so special about Perry’s spitball? Perry played a particular mental game with his hitters. His pre windup routine featured a bevy of weird motions and touches of his mouth, arms, hat, jersey, and finally the glove (seen here). His philosophy was simple, get the hitters to think about the mysterious use of his spitball so much it would completely take them off their game. This isn't to say the man never let a wet one go. He threw plenty of spit balls in his career, they just weren't as regularly used as people like to think. The mental advantage was the real edge. Focusing on catching someone cheating is a sure fire way to distract their concentration. But his gamesmanship didn't end there, "When we played the Reds, I'd roll a soaked ball to Sparky (Anderson), and he'd laugh. We had fun with it."I'd shake Johnny Bench's hand. And (Pete) Rose's and (Joe) Morgan's hand," Perry said. "And my hand would be full of Vaseline. "I'd say, 'Look forward to pitching against you tomorrow.' And I go them thinking about it all that night and all day the next day.” "The easiest guy to get into the head of was Reggie (Jackson). I could throw him a forkball, and he'd swear it was something else. One time in Texas, he hit one off me. When he got back to the dugout, I just tipped my hat at him. We became great friends after that." Part of his brilliance was he was nearly impossible to catch actually throwing the pitch. Yet he never was ejected from a game for using a substance on the ball until a decade after his career had began. Take a look at the Pittsburgh Pirates absolutely loosing their minds over his pre routine. Perry would put vaseline on his zipper because umpires would never check there. He had a thousand different tricks and hiding places. He used the spitball and mental games to win 314 games and strike out 3,534 batters during his Hall of Fame career. Runner Up: Burleigh Grimes
Gyroball “Backup Slider” - Tetsuro Kawajiri Literally dreamed up in the labs of Japan. The pitch was invented by a Japanese scientist, who used computer simulations to create a new style of delivery made to decrease stress on a pitcher’s arm. The pitch is primarily used by players in Japan, we think. The gyroball is one of the most mysterious sought after pitches in baseball history. When thrown correctly the pitch supposedly has a horizontal circular spin to it, resulting in bizarre breaks away from right handed hitters. The pitch has also been known to mysteriously drop off the table. The spin results in the baseball having no magnus force on it, as it arrives at homeplate. According to its inventor the pitch has nothing to do with the hand and all depends on the use of a pitchers arm. Another magical characteristic of the gyro is the ball leaves the pitchers hand at a fastball speed, but the spin actually causes the ball to loose velocity as it reaches the plate. At the point of release, the pitchers arm doesn’t move inwards towards the body like a typical pitch. Instead the arms is rotated so that it moves away from his body, and then toward third base. While their has been video of supped gyro balls, the existence of the pitch is still in question. Ii the pitch real? or just media hype? When westerners first heard of the pitch it was described as everything from a double breaking ball to pure magic. Writers and analysis let their imagination run wild thus claiming the existence of the gyroball the best thing since sliced bread. Reporters Jeff Passan and lee Jenkins approached Bonds and watched a short video of supposed gyroballs. Bonds eventually admitted the pitch just looked like a slider. When one questions the rotation of the baseball, one would have to think it would behave closer to a chest pass in basketball or a perfect spiral in football. The flight of the ball should be straight and true, specially if the air pressure is the same around the ball. The gyro ball is purely theoretical, born on a computer and thought up by non-baseball players. The chances of a pitcher throwing a ball with perfect perpendicular spin is little to none. Sure gyro balls have been thrown but that is usually not intentionally. Upon further investigation, the “gyro ball" is actually an old pitch, known under another name “The Backup Slider”. The idea behind the backup slider was that a hitter will expected an inside pitch to come across the plate like a slider but instead it will stay inside jamming the batter. The backup slider was usually known as a horribly risky pitch that routinely got bombed. Bob Gibson commented saying the backup slider was his greatest pitch but he didn't try to throw it because he usually couldn't make it do what he wanted. Runner-Up: Daisuke Matsuzaka
Rip Sewell's Eephus Pitch The ultimate low speed lob pitch, the eephus is designed to catch the hitter off guard. The eephus pitch features a high, lob-like arc and typically comes in at no more than 50-60 MPH. The pitch offers hitters two big obstacles, first they have to produce all the power themselves because the pitch is thrown at very low speeds. Second, the hitter needs to be patient and keep his hands back before he can drive the ball. The inventor of the pitch was its finest practitioner, Rip Sewell was a great pitcher that played in the majors for 13 seasons and was named to 4 all-star teams. Rip Sewell was hardly a strikeout pitcher, he only averaged more than three strikeouts per nine innings four times in his career. Perhaps the greatest accomplishment of Sewell’s eephus pitch was the fact that the only one player homered off the pitch, that player was Ted Williams in an all-star game. "Eephus" might mean nothing, but against the long ball, it certainly was something. The name eephus was coined by Pittsburgh outfielder Maurice Van Robays who said “Eephus ain’t nothing and that’s what that ball is.” Although we don’t agree that it is a nothing pitch, a few things made Sewell’s eephus stand out. First it had a ridiculous amount of height on it. Many of his eephus pitches were marked at a height of 25 feet. He learned the pitch when is career came into jeopardy when a hunting companion accidentally fired 14 pellets of buckshot into him. The damage done to his right foot required him to learn a new delivery and a new pitch to make up for his diminished fastball and curve. Sewell threw his first eephus pitch on April 17, 1941, striking out Cubs center fielder Dom Dallessandro and stranding two runners. The startled hitter pointed his bat at Sewell, saying, "If this was a rifle, I'd shoot you right between the eyes. The Cubs argued that the eephus was illegal, but Bill Klem, the National League's supervisor of umpires, declared it legal, which was the final word on the matter. Before they realized how effective the eephus could be, many batters regarded the pitch as the ultimate sign of disrespect. St. Louis third baseman Whitey Kurowski made a point of spitting tobacco juice at the ball as it floated past him. Reds shortstop Eddie Miller caught an eephus and fired it back at Sewell. Though that particular eephus never reached the catcher's mitt, the umpire called it a strike. Many baseball pundits balk at the usual moon ball pitch. That could be attributed to a particularly ugly piece of history that coincides with the eephus pitch. Bill Lee threw an eephus pitch in the game 7 of the 1975 World Series, at the time the Red Sox led the game 3-0. Lee threw the pitch with a 1-0 count, to slugger Tony Perez with a man on first. The pitch resulted in a towering two-run shot over the Green Monster, the Red Sox went on to loose the game 4-3 costing them a shot at their first world title since 1918.
Runner-Up: Satchel Paige
Greg Maddux - Shuuto Pitch The shuuto itself was born in Japan sometime during the 1970s. Many claim the shuuto is just a term the Japanese use to refer to a number of pitches. It can describe any pitch that tails to the pitcher's arm side, including the two-seam fastball, the circle change-up, the screwball, and the split-finger fastball. Think of a good 2-seam fastball with downward movement then add a knifing motion. Known as “The Professor” Greg Maddux had a excellent array of pitches. His best might have been his signature shuuto Pitch. A pitch which many experts feel that Maddux throws better than anyone else ever. Similar to a sinker but with a knifing action, the shuuto is some kind of mystery. Although he threw it as a simple 2 seam fastball the pitch came out as a shuuto pitch. As Maddux threw the pitch it first appears as a fastball, but loses speed and rolls toward the batter. It is effective when thrown outside a batter, as it will drift back and catch the outside of the plate for a strike. It is essentially the opposite of a slider, which breaks away from the batter. The shuuto has lots of variations; Greg Maddux used his on the corner of the plate against left-handed batters. Runner-Up: Masaji Hiramatsu
Satchel Paige's Hesitation Pitch A true throwback, Satchel Paige was one of the greatest pitchers of his era. He had a unique delivery for one of his pitches, perhaps the pitch that he was most famous for throwing. When Paige pitched the move was very much legal, now it would probably be seen as a balk. While corks and weird movements often go unseen during a pitchers delivery, it can’t be ignored. The "hesitation pitch" was a quirk in his delivery where he would intentionally pause after his left foot hit the ground before releasing the ball. He would hold the ball in the air and pause for an extra second. The small hesitation caused batters to struggle with their weight distribution thus throwing their timing off. Paige paired his hesitation pitch with his high powered fastball and tremendous breaking ball to form one of the greatest pitch varieties in baseball history. Not much has ever been said about the invention of this pitch.