High School Hierarchy: 21-25
SLAMonline ranks the top pro-producing high schools of all time.
21. Lansing Everett High School, Lansing, MI
NBA Players Produced: Magic Johnson, Desmond Ferguson, Brent Scott, Carl Thomas, Charles Thomas
Combined Experience: 19 seasons
NBA/ABA Championships Won: 5
All-Star Appearances: 12
Hall of Famers: 1
Total Points: 69
Magic Johnson is certainly the biggest name to come out of Everett, but while the other NBA players to come from Magic’s school didn’t make the same impact in the League, they have had successful careers in coaching and business endeavors, and Charles and Carl Thomas are one of only six sets of twins to play in the NBA together.
You’ve probably heard of: In Seth Davis’s book, When March Went Mad, chronicling how Magic Johnson and Larry Bird meeting for the national title in college basketball in 1979 made the NCAA Tourney the spectacle it is today, Davis recounted how Earvin Johnson became ‘Magic’ while he was at Lansing Everett:
“During a game against conference favorite Parkside High in early January, he (Johnson) poured in 36 points and had 18 rebounds and 16 assists in a 19-point win. That was the second time Fred Stabley Jr, a young reporter from the Lansing State Journal, had seen Johnson play. When Stabley interviewed Earvin afterward, he suggested that the youngster needed a flashy nickname to match his dynamic skills. ‘The Big E is taken by Elvin Hayes, and Julius Erving is Dr. J,’ Staley said. ‘How about if I call you ‘Magic?’”
Johnson’s contributions to the game are too large to recount. He has as many ‘signature moments’ in huge games as any player, he was a champion at every level of basketball and he, along with Bird and later Jordan, made the NBA one of the most popular professional leagues on the planet.
Don’t forget about: Desmond Ferguson had a good high school career at Everett, and then spent one season at the University of Missouri before transferring to the University of Detroit for his final three seasons. Ferguson was a key player on some talented U of D teams, including one with a unique accomplishment. Mid-majors like Detroit typically don’t receive at-large bids to the NCAA Tournament, so when Detroit was upset in its conference tournament in 1998, there was a chance the team could’ve missed the tourney despite a 25-6 record. Ferguson recounted the experience:
When we went in 1998 that was special because we lost in the MCC tournament in the second round, and usually in our conference, if you don’t win the conference tournament championship, you don’t go to the field of 64. But because of our great record we got selected on Selection Sunday to be in the NCAA Tournament. That was a highlight in itself as we were one of the teams ESPN selected to broadcast live as we saw our team name go up on the screen and we jumped and yelled in excitement as Dick Vitale talked to us live. Then to go in the game against St. John’s as underdogs (they had future NBA players Felipe Lopez, Zendon Hamilton and Ron Artest) and beat them, there is nothing like it.
Ferguson appeared in seven games for Portland in 2003 and played overseas.
Desmond Ferguson on Lansing Everett: “It’s great to know that you attended the same high school and played in the same gym as the greatest point guard to play the game,” said Ferguson, who now runs a sportswear company. “It allows you to dream big, knowing someone made it playing in the same gym you play in. But more than anything, it provided you hope and gave you a sense of inspiration.
“With Magic attending Everett and having so much success, others wanted to duplicate that type of success. Therefore, Everett became a basketball school where great basketball players from the city of Lansing wanted to attend. Naturally, Lansing is a basketball city and with the successful players that have attended Everett and played college and pro ball, I feel we are just products of the city of Lansing.
“My sophomore year, we started all sophomores and one freshman and we ended up 2-19 that season! Yeah, we lost a lot of games, but after that season, we worked harder and dedicated ourselves to becoming better basketball players. That same team ended up going 19-5 my senior year. More than anything, that process taught me about struggle, taught me about perseverance, determination and to never give up. And those are some of the qualities I carry with me as a man today. There is no success without struggle.
“That reputation [that Everett has] does the same thing that Magic did for my generation and generations before and after me … it provided hope. It sounds cliché, but it’s so true. So many young boys and girls fail to reach their dreams because they do not feel any sense of hope. When you have individuals that come from the same background, environment and communities as you, and they are successful, you tend to feel that you may be able to reach that same type of success as well.”