High School Hierarchy: 1-5
SLAMonline ranks the top pro-producing high schools of all time.
1. Oak Hill Academy, Mouth of Wilson, VA
NBA Players Produced: Cory Alexander, Carmelo Anthony, William Avery, Steve Blake, Mark Blount, Junior Burrough, Ben Davis, DeSagana Diop, Calvin Duncan, Mike Jones, Alex Blackwell, Sean Green, Stephen Jackson, Brandon Jennings, Venson Hamilton, Ty Lawson, Jeff McInnis, Ron Mercer, Marcus Williams, Curtis Staples, Makhtar N’diaye, Rajon Rondo, Josh Smith, Jerry Stackhouse, Rod Strickland
Combined Experience: 142 seasons
NBA/ABA Championships Won: 2
All-Star Appearances: 6
Hall of Famers: 0
Total Points: 163
Oak Hill Academy is essentially a school that re-loads its basketball team with transfer students each year, so there’s an argument to be made that the cultural significance of some other schools on this list trumps that of Oak Hill.
But transfers or not, winning 93 percent of its games since 1976 and finishing ranked in the Top 5 nationally among high schools for 13 straight years will go a long way toward establishing a legacy, as will having an obscene number of alums go on to play in the NBA. As if the Oak Hill list wasn’t big enough, Kevin Durant and Michael Beasley were students there before both players transferred.
You’ve probably heard of: Many of the players from Oak Hill became legitimate college and NBA stars after high school, but it’s hard to argue against Carmelo Anthony as the biggest name Oak Hill has produced. Rod Strickland and Jerry Stackhouse were All-Stars, and Rajon Rondo has a ring, but Anthony is one of the most recognizable players in the League and one of the top offensive players in basketball. Melo might be considered the third biggest star of his draft class now — behind LeBron James and Dwyane Wade — but don’t overlook Anthony’s college and pro achievements. He won a national title at Syracuse, he led Denver to a 26-win improvement from the previous season and a playoff appearance as a rookie and he’s a yearly threat to win a scoring title.
Don’t forget about: Ron Mercer was on the fast track to NBA stardom. As a high school senior, he was the top prospect in the country, ahead of players from the same class like Kevin Garnett and Stephon Marbury. He played one season at Kentucky, was named SEC Freshman of the Year and won a national title. Then, as the sixth pick in the Draft, he would play in the same system in the NBA under former Kentucky coach Rick Pitino, who took the Boston Celtics’ job after leading Kentucky to that title. As a rookie, Mercer averaged 15 points per game and shot 45 percent. His shooting percentage, however, would rapidly decline, and that 45-percent season was his career high. Mercer never developed a reliable outside shot to match his athleticism, he played for seven teams in eight seasons and he was out of the League by 2005 at just 28 years old.
Random fact: Before there was JJ Redick, there was Curtis Staples.
Duke’s Redick, known for his sweet shooting stroke, is the all-time NCAA leader in three-pointers made, but to get it, he had to break the record set by another ACC player, Oak Hill and University of Virginia alum Curtis Staples. Staples had one of the quickest releases in college basketball. “Curtis had a very, very quick release,” said former Duke player Jeff Capel. “He didn’t need much space at all to get his shot off, but it’s that quick release that I remember most.”
Staples never got a shot in the NBA. He went undrafted and then, rather than trying to make a team in an abbreviated training camp because of the NBA lockout, he played overseas and had a successful career for eight years. Now he’s coaching high school basketball at Virginia Episcopal School.