High School Hierarchy: 1-5
SLAMonline ranks the top pro-producing high schools of all time.
2. Overbrook High School, Philadelphia, PA
NBA Players Produced: Wilt Chamberlain, Mahdi Abdul-Rahman, Wali Jones, Rich Laurel, Hal Lear, Lewis Lloyd, Andre McCarter, Mike Gale, Jackie Moore, Malik Rose, Wayne Hightower
Combined Experience: 83 combined seasons
NBA/ABA Championships Won: 7
All-Star Appearances: 15
Hall of Famers: 1
Total Points: 146
“West Philadelphia, born and raised,” wasn’t just a catchy sitcom opening lyric. Will Smith was paying homage to his roots, shaped partially by his time at Overbrook High School. Smith, who won the first-ever Grammy Award in the ‘Rap’ category before becoming the most bankable star in Hollywood, is one of several cultural icons who emerged from Overbrook, a list that also includes music legend Solomon Burke, Guion Bluford Jr, the first African-American astronaut to ever to travel in space, and Olympic Gold Medalist Jon Drummond. But make no mistake: Overbrook, first and foremost, is a basketball school.
You’ve probably heard of: Wilt Chamberlain is the owner of the most unbreakable record in the NBA: his 100-point game in 1962 (he’s also the owner of another, ahem, unbreakable record). Chamberlain was the most statistically dominant player of his era, and although he was sometimes criticized for being obsessed with putting up ridiculous numbers while contemporary Bill Russell was obsessed with winning titles, Chamberlain did eventually win rings, one in Philadelphia with his hometown Warriors and one in Los Angeles with the Lakers. Numbers obsession or not, Chamberlain is one of the greatest players of all time and the first real larger-than-life star and character in the NBA.
Don’t forget about: If you don’t think things like scouting and player evaluation have advanced light years in the NBA over the last 30 years or so, check out the career arc of Rich Laurel: drafted in the first round by Portland in 1977; traded just months later to Atlanta for a future second round pick; released by Atlanta just a month after that. Could you imagine a first round pick today going through a similar experience? Laurel, who still holds Hofstra’s single-season record for scoring average at 30.3 points per game in 1977, only played 10 games in the NBA after getting picked in the first round, scoring 24 points in his career for the Milwaukee Bucks before going overseas.
Random fact: Overbrook’s most recent alum to make it to the NBA, Malik Rose, almost didn’t pursue basketball at all because he was a young tuba-playing prodigy:
A chubby kid in high school, Rose was anything but a can’t-miss NBA prospect. He was better in band (tuba and trombone) than basketball at Philadelphia’s Overbrook High School.
“I was all-state in music as a sophomore in high school,” Rose said. “I wasn’t all-anything in basketball until my junior year.”
Rose ultimately decided to pursue basketball, despite being offered a music scholarship at Carnegie Mellon, and carved out a successful NBA career as a hard-working undersized power forward. Rose was a key reserve on the first San Antonio Spurs title team in 1999.