High School Hierarchy: 1-5
SLAMonline ranks the top pro-producing high schools of all time.
4. McClymonds High School, Oakland, CA
NBA Players Produced: Bill Russell, Paul Silas, Antonio Davis, Jim Hadnot, Nate Williams, Odis Allison, Joe Ellis
Combined Experience: 60 seasons
NBA/ABA Championships Won: 13
All-Star Appearances: 15
Hall of Famers: 1
Total Points: 135
How’s this for cultural significance? McClymonds High School — ‘Mack House’ — claims the greatest winner in sports history in Bill Russell, Curt Flood, the pioneer in securing Major League Baseball players the right to become free agents, MLB Hall of Famer Frank Robinson, Olympic Gold Medalist Jim Hines and, for good measure, Grammy-winning rapper M.C. Hammer. McClymonds is now the combined home of two high schools (BEST and EXCEL high schools) in West Oakland.
You’ve probably heard of: Bill Russell is simply the standard by which every big man who ever plays in the NBA will be measured against. Russell retired in 1969, yet he’s still impacting the game today. After soundly beating all of the big men of his era head-to-head, including the statistically superior Wilt Chamberlain, Russell has become a big man ambassador of sorts. He can routinely be seen talking shop with this era’s best bigs, who always give deference to Russell as the greatest ever, whether they were old enough to see him play or not. He even was the healing force behind the Shaq vs. Kobe feud’s detente period. Russell’s impact hasn’t faded with time — they’re still trying to get a statue of him built in Boston.
Russell’s contributions to the game — and make no mistake, the off-court tortures he endured as a black star player during the Civil Rights struggle are more remarkable than any of his on-court accomplishments — are innumerable. Without Russell, there is no modern NBA.
Don’t forget about: Demetrius ‘Hook’ Mitchell never played in the NBA. He served time in prison for attempting to rob a Blockbuster Video. He changed his name to Waliy Abdur-Rahim. Still, people who saw the McClymonds product play never forget him. Players with Oakland roots like Jason Kidd, Gary Payton and Brian Shaw are among those who believe ‘Hook’ had the talent to be a NBA great. Here’s how Scoop Jackson described Hook in 2003:
They don’t know how this man called Hook used to jump over cars and dunk. They don’t know how he could do 360s over five people bent over in front of a rim. They don’t know he was doing that off-the-glass dunk — the one TMac pulled out at the 2002 ASG — as a 5-8 10th grader, more than 15 years ago. They don’t know how he became a god in the Bay Area by doing Evel Knievel stunts with a ball in his hand. They don’t know the claims of fame, the highs and lows, the saga. They don’t know of the $100-per-dunk challenges that used to be put in front of him as a kid, in games against former DI players twice his age, twice his size, and how that money would keep him off of the streets and alive. They don’t know of how once, at a park in Vegas, they had to raise the rim to 13 feet because he tore the 12-foot hoop down. They don’t know that this “bum” cultivated Payton, Kidd, Rider, Shaw, Antonio Davis, Greg Foster, Bernard Ward, Drew Gooden and Leon Powe — even though he was at the same age, or even younger, than most of them. They don’t know that when SLAM did the Playground Hall of Fame back in 2000, his name read third for a reason. They don’t know that Hook Mitchell may be, may be, the best basketball player the state of California has ever given birth to.
As Scoop wrote, every city has a player like Hook who the locals insist should’ve made it. But not all of those guys, even if they truly are elite talents, create such resonance even outside of their hometown that people make documentaries about them. Hook didn’t make it to the NBA, but he’s still one of the most impactful basketball players Oakland and the state of California has produced.
Random fact: Antonio Davis had a very solid NBA career. But he also had a unique off-court experience: He’s been involved in some of the most lopsided trades of the last 20 years. The Mavericks traded a second round pick that ended up being Davis and All-Star/Sixth Man of the Year Detlef Schrempf for journeyman center Herb Williams. The Pacers traded Davis to Toronto for Jonathan Bender in an effort to get younger. Davis would go on to become an All-Star with the Raptors while injuries wrecked Bender’s career. The Bulls traded him with Eddy Curry and a pick that ended up being Wilson Candler to the Knicks for cap space and four draft picks that ended up being LaMarcus Aldridge, Joakim Noah, Jon Brockman and Krylo Fesenko (the makings of a pretty deep frontcourt for NY had they just kept those picks). Strangely, Davis also was traded for Jalen Rose twice in his career.