High School Hierarchy: 16-20
SLAMonline ranks the top pro-producing high schools of all time.
16. Carver Military Academy, Chicago, IL
NBA Players Produced: Tim Hardaway, Terry Cummings, Cazzie Russell, Priest Lauderdale, Marlbert Pradd, Andre Moore
Combined Experience: 48 seasons
NBA/ABA Championships Won: 1
All-Star Appearances: 8
Hall of Famers: 0
Total Points: 74
Carver’s reputation for producing NBA talent speaks for itself, but if it were not for a couple devastating knee injuries, the school would undoubtedly be higher on this list. Through his first 10 seasons in the NBA, Terry Cummings averaged 21.3 points and 8.7 rebounds per game — potential Hall of Fame-level numbers. Then, in the offseason in 1992, he had a serious knee injury in a pickup game. He managed to play eight more seasons primarily as a reserve big man, but never again averaged double figures in points or more than 5.5 rebounds per game.
Tim Hardaway came to the NBA as a precursor to today’s lightning quick, flashy point guards who could create their own shot as well as create for others. Hardaway tore an ACL in 1993, and although he was able to still have a very good career post-injury, it did sap some of his trademark quickness.
You’ve probably heard of: Hardaway was an exciting college player at UTEP, then with the Golden State Warriors, he led the famed ‘Run TMC’ attack, putting up huge points in a frenetic style with Chris Mullin and Mitch Richmond playing for Don Nelson. Plus, Hardaway got to appear in a Nike commercial with Spike Lee. How many players who aren’t named Michael Jordan can make that claim? Post-injury, after getting traded to the Miami Heat, Hardaway was able to regain his All-Star status by playing a completely different style. The Warriors were a wide open offense, while the Heat teams of the 1990s were a grind-it-out, defense-first, halfcourt-only team under Pat Riley. Not many players can excel the way Hardaway did in two entirely different styles.
Don’t forget about: It was obvious when the Atlanta Hawks selected 7-4 Carver product Priest Lauderdale in the first round of the 1996 NBA Draft, they thought, when pairing him with Dikembe Mutombo, they would have perhaps the most physically imposing frontline in the NBA, as evidenced by this comparison of Priest to a mountain.
Lauderdale, who was taken as a project player, was massive, but couldn’t adjust to the athleticism in the NBA. After stints in the NBA and CBA, he’s been playing overseas since 2000.
Random fact: Cazzie Russell has produced at every level of basketball. He was the Chicago Sun Times Player of the Year in high school, he had a standout career at Michigan, averaging 30 points per game and winning National Player of the Year honors while leading the Wolverines to two Final Fours, and he was the No. 1 pick of the Knicks in the NBA Draft. The Fab Five at Michigan in the 1990s raised Michigan’s national profile and gave the school iconic status, but without Russell, there might not have been much interest in Michigan basketball in the first place:
When Russell came to Michigan the Wolverines played their home games on a removable raised floor in Yost Field House. The enthusiasm and fan support generated by Russell led to the construction of Crisler Area — often referred to as “The House That Cazzie Built.”
Russell was a key reserve on the Knicks’ 1970 title team, one of the deepest teams in league history, and he was an All-Star for the first and only time two seasons later in Golden State. Russell coached Savannah College’s men’s basketball team for 13 seasons before the school ended its program.