A Look Back at 13 NBA All-Stars' High School Scouting Reports
What did the scouting report say about today's NBA All-Stars before they became the household names they are now? It's fascinating to look back in an attempt to answer that question.
From the conclusion of Carmelo Anthony's high school season in 2002 to Kyrie Irving's graduation in 2010, the high school scouting reports of 13 All-Stars have been highlighted.
As a note, these high school reports are different from those that were eventually generated in the pre-draft camp process. I was able to find those reports for players like David Lee and Rajon Rondo, but not an actual transcript of their high school report.
Tony Parker's, meanwhile, was printed in French.
Others not included, like Dwyane Wade, were omitted because not much was written about them as high school ballers. Wade was only recruited by Marquette, Illinois State and DePaul coming out of high school, and he didn't truly break onto the national scene until college.
These 13 All-Stars were on the national radar since their high school days, though, and stayed on it ever since.
Each is listed according to his high school graduating class.
Carmelo Anthony, New York Knicks
Class of 2002
The Eastern Conference Finals could be decided by a matchup between Carmelo Anthony's New York Knicks and LeBron James' Miami Heat this season.
Just over a decade ago, as Brian Windhorst wrote for ESPN.com last February, the two first met as high school phenoms at the USA Developmental Festival in Colorado.
It was at that event, as noted by Scout.com's high school scouting, where Anthony solidified himself among the elite in his class:
He’s deserving of all the accolades he’s received. Few in the class can match his ability to score. He’s a young man who is going to make a lot of money one day. Outside from Lebron James, he was the best player at the USA Developmental Festival and led the event in scoring.
Outside of James, Anthony might be the best player on the Eastern Conference All-Star team this season as well.
Chris Paul, Los Angeles Clippers
Class of 2003
While Cliff Paul was preparing for his insurance career, brother Chris was balling out as a member of the West Forsyth High basketball squad in Clemmons, N.C.
The presence he has on the court with the Los Angeles Clippers today was evident way back then too, according to Scout.com:
Easily one of the best point guards in the Class of 2003. Has an unbelievable presence on the court and makes you instantly realize that he’s a player; a shorter version of Chris Rodgers. Not overly fast, but good with his dribble. Makes clutch 3s. He’s a born leader and a hard-nosed competitor.
LeBron James, Miami Heat
Class of 2003
There isn't much we don't know by now about LeBron James' high school career. There have been movies, books and documentaries highlighting the Beatles-like tour that both he and his teammates used to take part in.
The star of that team from Akron's St. Vincent-St. Mary would become the first pick of the 2003 NBA draft. You know the rest. Here is what Scout.com had to say on James just over 10 years ago:
Simply one of the best high school players in the last decade. Whatever you have heard about him is true. He’s so gifted it’s scary. As a scorer, his range extends to 3-point land. He’s a terrific passer and is quite unselfish. Simply put: his talents are on another level. We can list schools with him until we are blue in the face, but in the end this is the best high school-to-NBA prospect since it became chic to make the jump. LeBron James is a special basketball player, good enough to don the cover of Sports Illustrated as a junior in high school.
The three-point shooting part might have been a bit premature. On the NBA level, James never shot over 36.2 percent from three until this season. Everything else in his high school scouting report turned out to be completely accurate.
LaMarcus Aldridge, Portland Trail Blazers
Class of 2004
There was talk of LaMarcus Aldridge making the leap from high school to the NBA back in 2004. Eventually, he'd play first with the Texas Longhorns.
Aldridge injured his knee as a senior for Seagoville High School in Texas, but he was already a household name among basketball scouting services by then.
The following was from Scout.com on Aldridge heading into his senior year:
Next great big man to come out of the state of Texas. Draws favorable comparisons to Chris Bosh at the same age, but his game is slightly more advanced at this juncture. Has one of the longest bodies. Sound shot blocker and exceptional rebounder. Versatile enough and can step outside and face up. Texas Blue Chips performer is an elite big timer with a bright future.All-Star at the 2002 ABCD Camp.
"Next great big man to come out of the state of Texas" was a pretty fair assessment. While their NBA games aren't as similar, I'm sure that Aldridge and Bosh both looked pretty dominating on the Texas high school basketball back in the day too.
Joakim Noah, Chicago Bulls
Class of 2004
The Lawrenceville Prep star from Lawrenceville, N.J., has officially played his way into All-Star status. Even at a young age, though, while admittedly talented, Noah's energy and effort was what first caught scouts' attention.
The following was from Scout.com:
Son of tennis star Yannick Noah. Plays AAU ball for the Long Island Panthers. Plays with a purpose and goes hard. Like his long term potential, especially if his body fills out.
There is a long list of more talented players that Noah worked his way past over the years by playing with that purpose. Whether you're a fan of Noah these days or not, that much you have to respect.
Dwight Howard, Orlando Magic
Class of 2004
Dwight Howard was the first overall pick of the 2004 NBA draft out of Southwest Atlanta Christian Academy in Georgia. There were a lot of people talking about him back then, and rightly so.
The following review was from Scout.com:
Strengths: How much time do you have? Seriously, though, Howard has almost too many strengths to mention. He’s a beast in the paint offensively, using exceptional footwork and quickness to perform a stunning array of post moves and finish with both hands. But he’s also an excellent passer and capable ball-handler who can step away from the basket and knock down jumpers.
There is no denying that Howard is a beast in the paint. The post moves have not translated so much to the NBA level, but Howard hasn't needed that many moves in order to score.
He's been a dominating presence throughout his career on the basketball court just like everyone thought he'd be.
Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City Thunder
Class of 2005
Kevin Durant averaged 19.6 points per game for Montrose Christian School in Rockville, Md. He'd star at Texas from there before becoming the second overall pick in 2007 NBA draft.
This season, Durant could win his first MVP award while leading the NBA's most prolific offense. Back in '05, Scout.com suggested star-power potential certainly did exist for Durant:
Will graduate high school as a 17-year old senior, making him one of the youngest players in his class. Superior 3-point shooter with a soft touch. Shoots off dribble. Tries to play inside but strength is not there. Good athlete and a true small forward. Elite level prospect, has star power.
We sometimes overlook Durant's ability to shoot from long range while finding ourselves overwhelmed by everything else he does well. That soft touch has always been a major part of KD's game, though, going all the way back to high school.
Brook Lopez, Brooklyn Nets
Class of 2006
Prior to taking his talents to Stanford, Brook Lopez was a 7'0" center for San Joaquin Memorial High School in Fresno, Calif.
He averaged 13.8 points per game his senior year, prompting Scout.com to offer the following:
Good player; twin brother will go with him to Stanford. Solid body and strong frame. Offensive game will need work but he might not ever be a high point scorer. Does a nice job of rebounding and standing his ground inside. Excellent student-athlete.
His twin brother would go on to play with him in the NBA one day as well. As an All-Star this season, Lopez is averaging 18.6 points and 7.3 rebounds per game.
It's funny that the scouting report said he "does a nice job of rebounding" and that his "offensive game will need work." Seems like the opposite has happened in the NBA.
Blake Griffin, Los Angeles Clippers
Class of 2007
Blake Griffin averaged 13.7 points per game as a 6'8" forward for Oklahoma Christian School in Edmond, Okla. From there, he would star at Oklahoma before relocating to Lob City.
The following report on Griffin as a high school baller is from Scout.com:
Brother plays at Oklahoma. Big kid with range and plays inside and outside. Smart player and an excellent student. Took his game to another level in the spring of 2006. Has some explosion inside.
The explosion inside certainly proved to be accurate. There might not be a more explosive player in the NBA these days. He's also been expanding his shooting range since he's been in the league.
James Harden, Houston Rockets
Class of 2007
James Harden was not born with a beard. As a cleanly shaven star for Artesia High School in Lakewood, Calif., Harden averaged 18.8 points per game. He'd make a stop at Arizona State before breaking in the league, but not before prompting Scout.com to summarize his prep career as follows:
MVP of the inaugural Cactus Classic. Really came on strong following his junior season. Can flat out stroke it from deep and is capable of going for the big number. Moved into an elite category among shooting guards nationally. Talented wing player who will burn you with his lefty jumper.
"Talented wing player who will burn you with his lefty jump"—still completely accurate in a league filled with the best basketball players in the world.
Paul George, Indiana Pacers
Class of 2008
Paul George was an underrated prospect as his high school career concluded.
There wasn't much written about George back then, but Scout.com did offer the following:
Smooth prospect with an understated game. Good shooter who plays well within a team concept. Fairly long and a good athlete. Likely high major prospect.
The high-major prospect ended up developing himself into the Indiana Pacers' 10th overall pick in 2010 after starring at Fresno State. Even as an NBA All-Star, George remains underrated to an extent—despite averaging 17.7 points and 7.7 rebounds for Indiana.
Jrue Holiday, Philadelphia 76ers
Class of 2008
During Jrue Holiday's rookie season in the NBA, he averaged 8.0 points and 3.8 assists in 24 minutes per night. This season he's more than doubled those averages to totals of 19.4 points and 8.9 assists.
He is an All-Star this season because of those numbers, but it is his ability to let himself be coached that helped get him here. A personality trait that Scout.com noted back when Holiday was in high school:
There are so many to like him: character kid, gets better but most importantly there might not be a kid in the class who places a greater value on winning than him. Can score, pass, defend and basically do it all. Adding some PG in his game for the long term. Coachable.
He is basically doing it all for the Philadelphia 76ers this season too. If Andrew Bynum ever returns, Holiday may even have the help needed to start winning.
Kyrie Irving, Cleveland Cavaliers
Class of 2010
Before an 11-game collegiate career at Duke, Kyrie Irving was a standout point guard for St. Patrick High School in New Jersey.
It was there, according to Scout.com, where Irving began to earn the reputation as a "big-game player," among other accolades:
Elite level guard. High school coach once said he'd be the top guard ever to come out of New Jersey. Can score and pass equally well. Finishes with athleticism and explosiveness. He's a major impact player nationally.
He's become a major impact player in the NBA in less than two seasons. As a 20-year-old, he could find himself starting at point guard for the Eastern Conference All-Star team in Houston in relief of Rajon Rondo.