10 Best High School Basketball Players Since 2000

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    LeBron James

    Where else would we start? LeBron James is the greatest high school basketball player of our generation. He was rare. What made LeBron special was he remained humble through all of the recognition, accolades, and nationally televised games. He has more than lived up to the hype and has become one of the greatest basketball players of all time.

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  • Dajuan Wagner high school

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    Dajuan Wagner

    The story of Dajuan Wagner is something like an urban legend. He was the kid that scored 100 points in a high school game (we now have footage from the whole game). During his senior year he averaged 42.5 points per game and was regarded as the best guard prospect in the country. He broke the New Jersey scoring mark with 3,462 career points and won the Naismtih Award, which is given to the best high school basketball player in the country. He laced it up for John Calipari and Memphis before declaring for the 2002 NBA Draft. Wagner was drafted by the Cavaliers with the sixth pick but quickly vanished after a few seasons due to health problems.

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    Carmelo Anthony

    Carmelo Anthony was a special talent in high school. He was a part of one of the best recruiting basketball classes with names like Chris Bosh and Amar’e Stoudemire, as well as underrated players Brandon Roy and Deron Williams. It wasn’t really until the end of his junior year when he became the most sought after player in the country, eventually topping Lenny Cooke on the ESPN recruiting rankings. His game was smooth and versatile. He could score on anybody and at the time had some great athleticism. Prior to his senior year, ‘Melo announced he would attend Syracuse and transferred to powerhouse Oak Hill where he continued to hone his game.

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  • Candace Parker high school

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    Candace Parker

    Candace Parker changed the way we looked at women’s basketball. She is arguably the most decorated high school basketball player in history. She won multiple POY awards in high school and led Naperville Central in Illinois to a 95-4 record along with two state titles during her prep career. She became the first woman to win the McDonald’s All-American dunk contest over guys like J.R. Smith and Josh Smith. She has since gone on to win national titles at Tennessee and two MVP awards in the WNBA.

    If we had not included one of the greatest female players ever, this spot would’ve gone to Class of 2000 stud Eddie Griffin. He was an absolute savage in high school, combining incredible shot-blocking with perimeter skills and a feathery outside touch. The Kevin Garnett comparisons were not unwarranted.

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  • Greg Oden high school

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    Greg Oden

    Greg Oden was a special talent in high school. At the time, scouts salivated over his potential and compared him to legends like Russell, Ewing, and Olajuwon. He was a legit 7-0 and 240 pounds and was a force on the defensive end. He had “once in a lifetime” potential which is the reason why he was ranked over Kevin Durant, who could have easily been the No. 1 player in any other class. Although he will go down as one of the biggest busts in history there was no denying what he could have been.

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  • Kevin Durant high school

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    Kevin Durant

    The DC area in the mid 2000s was pumping out major talent. Guys like Kevin Durant, Michael Beasley, and Ty Lawson played AAU together, creating one of the best summer circuit teams ever. While Greg Oden was the “can’t miss” center prospect, Kevin Durant was the most skillful and talented. He was unique and had Oden’s height, with guard-like abilities. The future NBA MVP dominated his lone year at Texas before becoming one of the best in the L.

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  • O.J. Mayo high school

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    O.J. Mayo

    Mayo entered the national spotlight as a seventh grader while putting up major numbers for his high school varsity squad. He went on to be featured in Sports Illustrated and on the cover of Dime Magazine with the tag “The Next LeBron.” Playing in Ohio there was no way Mayo could escape the comparison to King James. He was voted Ohio’s Mr. Basketball twice during his sophomore and junior years before heading home to West Virginia to play for Huntington High for his senior year. Mayo was destined to be the next prep-to-pro prospect but during his junior year the NBA passed the new collective bargaining agreement that ruled high school players must attend at least one year of college before declaring for the draft. Mayo went on to attend USC for a year and has hopped around the NBA.

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  • Brandon Jennings high school

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    Brandon Jennings

    Brandon Jennings was a true showman in high school and dominated every single all-star game. YouTube was just getting big and Jennings was a mainstay on basketball mixtapes. During his two years at Oak Hill Academy, he set four different scoring records (points in a game with 63, total points in a season, average for one season, and career points). That is saying a lot with the names that have come out of the famous prep school in Mouth of Wilson, Va. He became a trailblazer by skipping college and heading to Italy to play one year of pro ball before heading to the NBA.

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  • Andrew Wiggins high school

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    Andrew Wiggins

    Andrew Wiggins became one of the most hyped NBA prospects in the post-LeBron era. When it comes to Wiggins, it is all about potential. He is a freak athlete with an incredible wingspan and is leading a Canadian basketball breakout. We featured Wiggins in our household names list and we are eagerly awaiting his breakout in the NBA.

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  • Dwight Howard high school

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    Dwight Howard

    Howard was the crown jewel of a stacked 2004 high school class that saw eight players get picked in the first round of the NBA Draft. Even in high school, you could see Howard was going to be a phenomenal defensive player, as he possessed a nearly 7-5 wingspan, a 36-inch vertical, and the speed of a guard. Howard’s senior year was the stuff of legends. He won a state title, won co-MVP of the McDonald’s High School All-American Game, and was named the Naismith Prep Player of the Year, the Morgan Wootten High School Player of the Year, the Gatorade National Player of the Year, AND the McDonald’s National High School Player of the Year. Crazy.

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  • Dajuan Wagner high school
  • Candace Parker high school
  • Greg Oden high school
  • Kevin Durant high school
  • O.J. Mayo high school
  • Brandon Jennings high school
  • Andrew Wiggins high school
  • Dwight Howard high school

It has been 13 years since LeBron James was dominating the high school basketball scene. Since then a lot of things have changed at the prep level. While kids can no longer go straight to the NBA out of high school, players are being recruited earlier and thanks to social media we now have access to prospects at a more personal level than ever before. (This isn’t always a great thing.)

The thing about high school basketball is that every player faces some uncertainty because you never quite know how their talent and mindset will translate to the next levels. The hierarchy of sports is a weeding out system. Only the best middle school players play big AAU and CYO minutes. Only the studs from those teams go on to play varsity in high school. The best of the best at that level find a way into college. And then the absolute pinnacle of college ball somehow sees their dreams come true.

For every LeBron James there is the sad tale of a Lenny Cooke. Both are regarded as some of the most memorable players to play high school ball, but both share two different storylines that shows prospects the positives and negatives of the limelight.

The Drop made stops this year at the Under Armour Elite 24, the Jordan Brand Classic, and the Spalding Hoophall Classic where we checked in on some of the major stars of tomorrow.

In leading up to the 2016 Spalding Hoophall Classic at Springfield College this weekend, we put together a list of the 10 Best High School Basketball Players Since 2000. This is not a list of guys who ultimately became great players–although some of them did–but a list of ones who actually were legends in high school.

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