High School Rumors
Before he became the NBA’s fourth all-time leading scorer, Bryant showed his confidence in an Aces uniform. During their senior year, teammate David Lasman recalled that Bryant boasted to him that Michael Jordan could not stop him. During the Aces’ state semifinal game that season against Chester, teammate Emory Dabney said Bryant concluded a huddle in overtime by saying, “just give me the ball and get out of the way” before delivering a win. Before that state semifinal win, Bryant motivated his teammates by throwing a plastic mask in the locker room after wearing it to protect his broken nose that stemmed from diving for a loose ball and colliding with a teammate during a practice. That same season, Dabney nursed an injured hip only for Bryant to tell him, “I don’t care how hurt you are; go as hard as you can until that injury doesn’t allow you to run anymore.”
Treatman heard the news as he oversaw a youth girls basketball tournament at Philadelphia University. So before the games started, Treatman had the 1,200 people in attendance stand for three different moments of silence. The number of seconds for each moment of silence mirrored Bryant’s jersey number at Lower Merion (33) and jersey numbers with the Lakers (8, 24). “My entire life happened because I sat next to Kobe Bryant on the bench in 1996,” said Treatman, who wrote about part of Bryant’s high school career for the Philadelphia Inquirer, became an Aces assistant coach and ran sports broadcasting camps. “I wanted to be great because Kobe was great.”
Lillard’s academy will provide six deserving students – one male and one female from among the nine Adidas Legacy high schools in each of the three cities – with a four-month local internship. Given the ongoing uncertainty of the coronavirus pandemic, the academy’s internships will remain virtual in the first year, with future plans for in-person activities. “I’m just at that point in my life and in my career where I realize the value of how I see things, how I operate and try to bring things to life,” Lillard said. “When you get to that point, you want to create something for other people to follow. You also want to inspire them and encourage them to grow.”
Adidas’ shift to partner with nearly 30 high schools in the nation’s three largest cities – with no regard for its boys or girls basketball teams’ win-loss record – was summed up succinctly by a brand spokesperson: “We’re going where we’re needed most.” Lillard is outspoken about his own rise from being an unknown amateur prospect from Oakland, California, to the No. 6 overall pick of the 2012 NBA draft and now a perennial All-Star, and feels his path and example can be applied to any field. He speaks often to students in his hometown and his current city of Portland, touting the benefits of being a good citizen and urging them to “show up, work hard and be kind.”
Kobe Bryant was already a star by 1996, but his national profile took a bit of time to catch up. The buzz of his potential leap from high school directly to the NBA was baffling at the time; his performance at the McDonald’s All American Game in late March—the only real look most casual fans were able to catch of Bryant’s talent—was unremarkable. He looked like a boy unfit for a league of men, without the advantage of supreme size that allowed Kevin Garnett to make a stunning prep-to-pro transition one year earlier. Simpson sent the first round of callouts for 1996 Usenet draft scouting reports back in April, more than two months before the draft; it wasn’t until the fourth callout in May that Kobe even showed up as a prospect to be written about. A random scouting report landed in Simpson’s inbox weeks later. It painted as clear a profile of Kobe as one could expect on the early web, with descriptors we now know to be foundational to his legacy as a player: intelligence, determination, idolatry at the altar of Jordan. It was penned by someone who’d played local high school and summer games against the future legend. “That was not common,” Simpson said.
Basketball fans got a treat Thursday evening when the No. 1 junior in the country, Emoni Bates, squared off with the No. 1 senior in the country, Chet Holmgren. Bates is touted as the best high school prospect since LeBron James, but it was the lanky, 7-foot-1 Holmgren who was the star of the game. Holmgren’s Minnesota team, Team Sizzle, defeated Bates’ Ypsi Prep, 78-71, and both players finished with a double-double. Bates had a quiet 36 points (11-for-22 from the field) and 10 rebounds while Holmgren dominated both ends of the court with impressive blocks, long threes and powerful dunks in the lane, finishing with 31 points (13-for-18 from the field), 12 rebounds and six blocks.