Picking an all-decade high school basketball team provides a dilemma. Do you make selections based on a player’s high school achievements or do you also include their post-high school career?
Fortunately during the past 10 seasons there were enough players like LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire to help remedy the situation. They were stars not only at the high school level, but at the professional (and in some cases college) level as well. However, our guidelines for selecting an all-decade high school team for the years 2000-09 included balancing the production and achievements of a player during his high school career while also using his post high school career as a guide to measure true greatness.
The selection process is not scientific to be sure and there will be some who might disagree, for example, with our selection of Greg Oden over Dwight Howard as the top high school center over the past decade since Howard has had the more productive professional career. But it’s that type of debate that makes high school sports fun. Who’s the best? Who’s No. 1? It’s a constant refrain we hear every year during the high school sports season. Now here are our choices for the top high school basketball players for the past 10 years.
Guard – LeBron James, St. Vincent-St. Mary, Akron (Ohio), 2003 – Not a tough choice here. James was the first high school player to earn first team honors three years in a row by USA Today and he is also a two-time national player of the year. Led St. Vincent-St. Mary to a national championship while averaging 30.4 points, 9.7 rebounds and 4.9 assists. A five-time all-star, James has averaged 27.5 points per game in the NBA and was the MVP of the league in 2009.
Guard – O.J. Mayo, North College Hill, Cincinnati (Ohio)/Huntington (W.Va.), 2007 – Mayo joined James as the only three-time USA Today All-American first team selection averaging 29.6 points, 5 rebounds and 4.9 assists as a senior at Huntington while leading team to state title. Also led North College Hill to back-to-back state titles as a sophomore and junior in Ohio. Drafted No. 3 overall, Mayo averaged 18.5 points for the Memphis Grizzlies last season as a rookie.
Center – Greg Oden, Lawrence North, Indianapolis (Ind.), 2006 – Oden was a two-time national player of the year by both USA Today and Gatorade, which puts him on the first team ahead of Howard despite Howard’s more recent success at the pro level. Oden averaged 22 points and 10.5 rebounds at Lawrence North while leading the team to three straight state titles. Led Ohio State to the NCAA finals, but he has been hampered by injuries since being drafted No. 1 overall by the Trailblazers.
Forward – Carmelo Anthony, Oak Hill Academy, Mouth of Wilson (Va.), 2002 – Anthony transferred to Oak Hill Academy for his senior year and earned first team All-American honors by USA Today while averaging 21.7 points and 8.1 rebounds. He led Syracuse to a national championship as a freshman and has been one of the top players in the game during his six seasons with the Denver Nuggets. He has a career NBA scoring average of 24.2.
Forward – Amar'e Stoudemire, Cypress Creek, Orlando (Fla.), 2002 – Florida’s Mr. Basketball his senior year, Stoudemire averaged 29.1 ppg and 15 rebounds his senior year before going straight to the NBA as the ninth overall pick by the Phoenix Suns. He’s averaged over 20 points per game in five of his seven seasons (he sat out all but three games of the 2006 season due to injury) with a career best of 26 a night in 2005.
Guard – Chris Paul, West Forsyth, Clemmons (N.C.), 2003 – A second team All-American choice despite averaging 28.4 points per game his senior year, Paul has become one of the elite point guards in the NBA. He’s led the league in assists the past two seasons, was the 2006 Rookie of the Year and a two-time All-NBA first team pick. He’s also one of the league’s top defensive players.
Guard – Derrick Rose, Simeon, Chicago (Ill.), 2007 – Rose led Simeon to a pair of state championships and averaged 25 points, nine rebounds and eight assists as a senior. A USA Today and MaxPreps first team All-American, Rose led Memphis State to the NCAA finals as a freshman and then earned Rookie of the Year honors in the NBA last year.
Center – Dwight Howard, Southwest Atlanta Christian Academy (Ga.), 2004 – Named the USA Today national player of the year in 2004, Howard averaged 25.5 points, 18.3 rebounds and eight blocks per game in leading his team to the state championship in Georgia. Drafted No. 1 overall by the Orlando Magic, Howard has led the league in rebounds the past two seasons while also averaging over 20 points per game. He was named the league’s defensive MVP in 2009 and led the Magic to the NBA Finals against the Lakers.
Forward – Kevin Durant, Montrose Christian, Rockville (Md.), 2006 – Durant was the NBA Rookie of the Year in 2007 after being drafted second behind Oden by the Seattle Sonics. Durant was a first team USA Today All-American and averaged 22.4 points and 10.2 rebounds for Montrose Christian. The NCAA Player of the Year as a freshman at Texas, Durant has averaged 22.7 points in his two NBA seasons.
Forward – Kevin Love, Lake Oswego (Ore.), 2007 – The USA Today and MaxPreps national player of the year, Love finished his career as the all-time leading scorer in Oregon with 2,628 points including 33.9 ppg as a senior. He also averaged 17 rebounds, four assists and four blocks his senior year. Led UCLA to the Final Four as a freshman and played for the Minnesota Timberwolves last season as a rookie, averaging 11.1 points and 9.1 rebounds.
Guard – Sebastian Telfair, Lincoln, New York (N.Y.), 2004 – Ended his career as the all-time leading scorer in New York City (since surpassed by Lance Stephenson) and averaged 30.3 points and eight assists his senior year while earning USA Today All-American honors. Telfair’s had a rocky road in the NBA, averaging 8.2 points per game in five seasons with three different teams.
Guard – Monta Ellis, Lanier, Jackson (Miss.), 2005 – A first team USA Today All-American, Ellis was one of the most prolific scorers in Mississippi history with 4,167 career points including 38.4 as a senior. He’s become a potent scorer in the NBA for the Warriors, averaging 20 points in 2008 and 19 last year during an injury-marred season.
Center – Chris Bosh, Lincoln, Dallas (Texas), 2002 – Bosh was only second team All-American by USA Today his senior year when he averaged 20 points per game for Lincoln. However he has become one of the game’s top young stars, averaging 22 points per game over the last four seasons with the Toronto Raptos while appearing in four all-star games.
Forward – Gerald Wallace, Childersburg, (Ala.), 2000 – Wallace was the USA Today national player of the year in 2000 after scoring 28.7 ppg with 13.8 rebounds, 3.8 blocks and 3.2 steals. He was drafted by the Sacramento Kings, but he has played the past five seasons in Charlotte where he has averaged just under 18 points per game over the last three seasons.
Forward – Derrick Favors, South Atlanta (Ga.), 2009 – The national player of the year by MaxPreps, USA Today and Parade, Favors led South Atlanta to a state championship and finished his career with 2,341 points, 1,511 rebounds and 741 blocked shots. As a senior he averaged 28.1 points, 13.3 rebounds and five blocks. He will play at Georgia Tech next year.