High School Hierarchy: 26-30
SLAMonline ranks the top pro-producing high schools of all time.
27. Theodore Roosevelt High School, Gary, IN
NBA Players Produced: Glenn Robinson, Dick Barnett, Jim Bradley, Winston Garland, Tony Harris, Willie McCarter
Combined Experience: 41 seasons
NBA/ABA Championships Won: 4
All-Star Appearances: 3
Hall of Famers: 0
Total Points: 58
Roosevelt High School has produced several talented basketball players. But the school’s greatest contribution dwarfs the accomplishments of Roosevelt athletes. Roosevelt was one of the first places the Jackson 5 performed. Although Michael Jackson didn’t attend the school because the group had already become famous and moved to California by the time he reached high school age, his older siblings Jackie, Rebbie and Tito are all Roosevelt alums, and the Jackson 5 performed at the school during a talent show in the auditorium when they were just starting out.
You’ve probably heard of: After winning Indiana’s Mr. Basketball award and a state title with Roosevelt, Glenn ‘Big Dog’ Robinson became one of the most dangerous scorers in college basketball at Purdue. Robinson played two seasons as a Boilermaker, averaging 24 points and 8 rebounds a game his first season and following it up with 30 points and 11 rebounds per game season that netted him the National Player of the Year award.
Robinson was the first pick in the NBA Draft by the Milwaukee Bucks, and although he went on to a solid NBA career averaging over 20 points per game, making the All-Star team twice and winning a title as a role player late in his career with San Antonio, Robinson didn’t quite achieve the NBA dominance many predicted for him out of college.
First, there was the contract holdout before he even played a NBA game (Robinson reportedly asked for a 13-year, $100 million contract fresh out of college before settling for 10 years/$68 million, the biggest contract ever given to a rookie). Then, the Bucks broke up the Big Dog-Ray Allen-Sam Cassell group that led them to within one game of the NBA Finals in 2001 amidst concerns that the three stars had a hard time sharing the ball. Robinson ended up in Philly as one of the Sixers’ attempts to pair Allen Iverson with a veteran scorer (other failed attempts included Keith Van Horn, Chris Webber, Toni Kukoc and Derrick Coleman), and knee injuries dramatically slowed his scoring ability the rest of his career as his averages dipped to 16.8 and 10.0 points per game his final two seasons.
Robinson’s son, Glenn Robinson III recently committed to play basketball at the University of Michigan next year.
Don’t forget about: Dick Barnett befell a similar fate to some of his New York Knicks teammates in the 1970s: He was a great player and an All-Star who just happened to be somewhat overshadowed on one of the most star-studded teams in NBA history, featuring Hall of Famers Willis Reed, Earl “The Pearl” Monroe, Dave DeBusschere, Bill Bradley and Walt Frazier as well as future legendary coach Phil Jackson.
But Barnett was a key component of that team, and his unorthodox style and personality fit perfectly at Madison Square Garden. Sports Illustrated’s William Leggett profiled Barnett shortly after he joined the Knicks:
Since early in November crowds have been gathering at the edge of the Garden court to watch Barnett warm up, to holler salutes of praise, to see in person the name that looks so good in the box scores. Out on the court Barnett is a strange-looking man and, when surrounded by taller players, seems much smaller than his 6-4 listed height. When the bright lights hit the sharp angles of his face he looks homely and lonely and cold. The method he uses in warm-ups is totally different from that of the majority of pro players. He takes the ball and dribbles it to a position, pretending that there is a defender alongside trying to frisk him. He practices fakes with his head and shoulders, and then he goes into his jump shot—the shot that Coach Paul Seymour of the Baltimore Bullets calls “the best in the League.”
Barnett’s jumper is an intriguing thing to behold, for it seems to attack all the basic laws of basketball, human coordination and aerodynamics. He leaves the floor with the ball cradled in his left hand directly below his ear. As he lets the ball go, he throws both feet violently backward. At the release he resembles a shot putter, but the result is a high trajectory flight with an extremely soft touch. Often when the ball heads toward the basket Barnett tries to steer it home with body English and delicate flicks of his wrists. Altogether it is a compelling performance.
Barnett, who earned a PhD, taught sports management at St. John’s after retiring from the NBA.
Random fact: Jim Bradley managed to play three seasons in the ABA in a reserve role after a strong career at Roosevelt followed by a good college career at Northern Illinois.
Although his name is not the most well-known among Roosevelt alums, he does have one claim to fame: He’s one of only 11 NCAA players since 1973 to have 30 rebounds in a single college game.