High School Hierarchy: 1-5
SLAMonline ranks the top pro-producing high schools of all time.
This is the final installment of a six-part series featuring the best high school basketball programs in America. For more of SLAMonline’s High School Hierarchy, check out the archive.
by Patrick Hayes / @patrick_hayes
5. DeWitt Clinton High School, Bronx, NY
NBA Players Produced: Tiny Archibald, Ron Behagen, Tommy Byrnes, Luther Green, Jerry Harkness, Tom Henderson, Billy Reid, Oliver Taylor, Willie Worsley, Ruben Nehmbhard, Butch Lee, Dan Kraus, Dolph Schayes, Steve Sheppard, Barney Sedran*, Ricky Sobers, Ralph Kaplowitz, Barry Leibowitz, Leo Gottlieb
*Note: Sedran is a basketball Hall of Famer, but his professional career ended in 1938 before the NBA or ABA existed.
Combined Experience: 83 seasons
NBA/ABA Championships Won: 4
All-Star Appearances: 18
Hall of Famers: 3
Total Points: 124
The Public Schools Athletic League in New York City is one of the best known and oldest leagues for big-time high school basketball nationwide, and DeWitt Clinton is one of the best known teams in that league. Clinton won the first PSAL basketball championship in 1905, they have hundreds of graduates who had made significant impacts in a variety of fields — from comic book creator Stan Lee to 30 Rock/SNL actor and comedian Tracy Morgan — but above all else, they’ve produced a long list of legendary ballers.
You’ve probably heard of: In a city known for its point guards, Clinton’s Nate ‘Tiny’ Archibald might be New York’s most accomplished in a long line of big names. Archibald was a precursor to today’s era of jack-of-all-trades PGs: He could run an offense like throwback point guards were expected to, but he was also among the best scorers in the League. In the ‘72-73 season, Archibald led the League in both scoring and assists, something no other player has done. Archibald, who was only listed at 150 pounds when he played, used his slight frame extremely well — he was among the top 5 in the League in free-throw attempts four times, leading the League twice. Archibald won a title in Boston in 1981 and was elected into the Hall of Fame in 1991. He’s also continuing to influence NY players as a volunteer assistant coach at Kennedy High School in the Bronx.
Don’t forget about: Clinton produced two giants among Jewish basketball playing pioneers in Barney Sedran and Dolph Schayes. Schayes, the only Jewish player to make the NBA’s list of 50 greatest players, recently talked with Tablet Magazine about the impact great Jewish basketball players have had on the game:
I grew up in New York City, which was populated by many Jews. That was the game of choice. I was just part of the group that was playing. When I got into professional basketball, there were more Jews playing then. But it was a very small number. The first New York Knick team, almost the entire starting five were Jewish—there were four Jewish players.
One of the great players was Max Zaslofsky. A player who I played with in college was Sid Tannenbaum—he would’ve been a great pro except that in the late ’40s he chose a life outside of basketball, in business. Another excellent player was a guy named Barry Kramer who played at NYU—a fantastic college player, but he got hurt. He was the first round draft choice of Golden State, or San Francisco at that time, and he hurt his ankle and never played again. He played like Rick Barry, with a very strong shooting game.
Schayes was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1973 and his son, Danny, also played in the NBA.
Random fact: The career of Jerry Harnkness as a NBA/ABA player only lasted 86 games, but he still has one claim to fame: the longest shot ever made in a NBA or ABA game. Harkness hit a shot from 92-feet away to beat Dallas as a member of Indiana in 1967. Indiana was down two when Harkness hit the shot, and in Terry Pluto’s book about the ABA, Loose Balls: The Short, Wild Life of the American Basketball Association, Harkness recalls not even realizing the game was over, since the three-pointer was pretty new to basketball: “We were running off the floor to huddle up for overtime when the official, Joe Belmont, came up to me and said, ‘Jerry, it’s over. That was a three-pointer.’ I said, I forgot all about that. A three-pointer.”
Harkness became a broadcaster after his basketball career ended and also became active in civil rights issues in Indiana and in the the South.