Anyone remember School Sports? Back in high school, right outside the principal’s office, I could find a stack of that magazine once every few months. I’d grab three or four copies, spend the next few classes sifting through the pages, keep one copy on ice and then cut apart the others, taping every picture up onto my wall. They had national stories and local stuff too, which was always weird (seeing names you know in a magazine). Coming up the stairs from gym class, I always snuck a glance to my left to see if they were sitting there on a ledge, right outside of the main office.
It was in those pages I first found out about O.J. Mayo. As I’ve said before, some names scream stardom. Mayo was high school stardom. He sold out arenas everywhere he went. He was the star of national news stories, and hype long before his senior year. He was LeBron after LeBron, right down to the controversies.
Before him there was LeBron, otherworldly even at 17. Kobe was a celebrity, taking Brandy to the prom and destroying pros in personal workouts. Way before their time, Wilt Chamberlain was doing things with a basketball that had literally never been done before. Even players like Dajuan Wagner, so good in high school that he once dropped 100 in a game, and so exhilarating that he often dominated the basketball mixtapes DVDs that were a staple of the early 21st Century, could make the claim they were the most exciting teenager ever. Players of every generation, all over the country, have left legacies.
I’ve always loved handles. But ironically, the most exciting high school player I ever saw hardly handled the ball at all. Eddie Griffin (R.I.P.) of Philadelphia was a monster in high school. He could do it all: hit jumpers, run the floor and pass the rock, and he could do it all effortlessly. But what made him different was the way he blocked shots. I remember one game in particular where he finished with 11 blocks, and had about half of those during one four-to-five minute stretch.
Griffin never reached the vast potential he showed in high school. But he still left memories. That was over a decade ago. But there’s another cat in high school right now who’s effect on YouTube won’t soon be forgotten.
There’s something special about watching Aquille Carr play. He’s not the biggest cat in the world, but he’s still magnetizing. Most of the game’s best little guys can drop buckets or have nights where they pile up numbers. But the Crime Stopper is different. He can impose his will on a game despite being the smallest player on the court, make others cower in fear. That quality stands out. You can’t take your eyes off him, forget there are other players on the court, sometimes even forget about the game going on. It’s just Carr and the poor soul who’s trying to guard him.
We know hype when we see it. Carr has always had hype. But the difference is he backs it up. Over and over. He’s done it enough that we put him on the cover of Dime #65 and declared him the nation’s most exciting high school player. We think that’s a given. But what about all-time? Who is the most exciting high school player ever?
Who is the most exciting high school player ever? Think it through because the best answers will be printed in the next issue of Dime.
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