High School Hierarchy: 6-10
SLAMonline ranks the top pro-producing high schools of all time.
7. Laurinburg Institute, Laurinburg, NC
NBA Players Produced: Sam Jones, Antonio Anderson, Renaldo Balkman, Spider Bennett, Charlie Davis, Joey Dorsey, Mike Evans, Charlie Scott, Chris Washburn, Dexter Westbrook, Shawne Williams, Jimmy Walker
Combined Experience: 58 seasons
NBA/ABA Championships Won: 11
All-Star Appearances: 12
Hall of Famers: 1
Total Points: 120
Laurinburg is the oldest historically black prep school in the country, and produced notable NBA talent including Sam Jones, a Hall of Famer with the Celtics, as well as legendary musician Dizzy Gillespie. Sadly, Laurinburg is notable for another reason. In 2007, the NCAA declared that “core courses, grades and graduation from the Laurinburg Institute will not be used when determining prospective student-athletes’ initial eligibility to compete in intercollegiate athletics.” Laurinburg is now symbolic of a growing skepticism about prep schools and their ability (or even interest in) to prepare athletes for the next level academically. Still, though, controversy or not, it is undeniable that Laurinburg has made major contributions to the NBA.
You’ve probably heard of: Sam Jones was one of the top shooting guards of his era, winning 10 championships with Boston. A precursor to the tall, smooth shooting guards who are today’s norm, here’s how fellow Celtics Hall of Famer Bob Cousy described Jones:
“When you are talking about Hall of Famers, Sam could easily play in today’s game and give Kobe, McGrady and whoever all they could handle. When you are talking about McGrady, Kobe, Sam Jones — I mean, nobody could stop those guys. They have so many offensive weapons, unless you commit two or even three people to them you are not going to slow them down a lot.”
Jones, who was known for an accurate bank shot that would make Tim Duncan jealous, also had a reputation as one of the top clutch shooters in the NBA, separating himself in a loaded backcourt that also included Cousy and Bill Sharman.
Don’t forget about: Since his game was crafted on the playgrounds there, New York is rightfully the city streetball legend Earl ‘The Goat’ Manigault is associated with. But after Manigault was kicked off his high school team in NYC, he ended up playing at Laurinburg. Drug problems and an inability to get along with coaches ultimately derailed Manigault’s shot at a pro career, but like McClymond’s Hook Mitchell, Goat’s impact on the game is undeniable. From his obit in the New York Times:
“In storied match-ups against other city stars like Alcindor, Connie Hawkins and Joe (the Destroyer) Hammond, Manigault (pronounced MAN-eh-galt) helped enhance New York’s playground legend as a breeding ground for young stars. “There weren’t too many little guys back then soaring to the hoop and dunking on and blocking the shots of guys 6-9 and 6-10,” Manigault said in a recent interview. “I was a pioneer in that sense, that’s why I became so popular.”
And like any streetball legend, Goat has an impossible sounding play that true believers swear happened: “Thousands of people swear they saw him perform a move known as the Double Dunk, in which he would slam the ball through a net, catch it as it dropped through the cords and, still airborne, dunk it again.”
HBO produced a documentary, Rebound: The Legend of Earl ‘The Goat’ Manigault, about his life in 1996.
Random fact: You know all of the untrue-sounding stories about someone allegedly getting X number of points on their SAT for simply writing their name correctly? Well, Chris Washburn is here to tell you they’re totally true:
“A North Carolina high school phenom, Washburn arrived at N.C. State after scoring 420 on his SATs (400 of those were for spelling his name right). Having already been admitted to college, he blew off the test and finished in 22 minutes. He says he would have been done even sooner if he could have circled the answers instead of shading in the bubbles.”
Washburn, one of the biggest draft busts in NBA history after struggling with drug problems, has turned his life around over the last 10 years, working for a mortgage company. Still, though, one of the most talented players Laurinburg ever produced could’ve been a big time star. Washburn estimates that he lost $100 million in his career.