Before Michael Jordan was making Bryon Russell fall with a killer crossover and draining the go ahead jumper to win his sixth NBA title with the Chicago Bulls, Jordan was a skinny, determined athlete dominating the competition at Laney High (Wilmington, N.C.).
Before Adrian Peterson was trucking opposing defenses and racking up 2,097 yards in a single season for the Minnesota Vikings he was shining bright under the Friday night lights at Palestine High (Palestine, Texas), averaging 12 yards a carry and scoring 32 touchdowns.
Before any athlete can become legendary they have to lay their foundation in the high school ranks.
Each week I’ll chat with a high-profile athlete’s former coach, mentor, family member, etc., and reminisce about their high school playing days; everything from the greatest moment to the wackiest story.
This week I caught up with Milwaukee Bucks guard Brandon Knight’s AAU coach at E1T1 (Fla.), Edward Francis.
Jason Jordan: What’s your best memory of Brandon on the court?
Edward Francis: Man that’s tough with Brandon! We played a game once where the team just came out from the opening tip really talking a lot of noise to him and he didn’t like that. Next thing you know he scored 16 points in a row. The coach looked at his players and said, “Why did you wake him up!” It was at Boo Williams. He had a heck of a game! Everyone in the gym knew he was a different level of special after that one.
JJ: What’s your best memory of Brandon off the court?
EF: Brandon’s just a great kid; a really great kid. We’d always have a Bible session after games at the hotel and after that we’d all have a session where we’d just sit around and talk and I remember he told me how much he loved the team and how close we all were. He had come from Team Breakdown and he said people would always make he and Kenny Boynton be in competition, but with us he felt like the atmosphere was more enjoyable. It was really genuine. Always been a genuine kid.
JJ: Did you always feel like he’d be a productive pro?
EF: Oh yeah and that’s because of his work ethic. Brandon’s thing was he was always gonna outwork everyone out there. We’d stop practice and he would keep going. All the time. That kind of guy, with his talent, is always gonna be productive.
JJ: What was his personality on the team?
EF: Brandon was a more focused kid. He’d joke a little, but he was always focused on the game for the most part. He wasn’t always serious, but he definitely focused more on what he had to do. He wasn’t always running around and laughing and playing; he was more concerned with how he could get better.
JJ: How good can Brandon be in the NBA?
EF: Well, I definitely think that Brandon can be an All Star; I don’t think there’s any question about that. I’m telling you, Brandon is always trying to be the best. If you ever settle, Brandon’s gonna push past you and I think that will definitely translate into a lot more success soon.
Check Brandon Knight out in high school:
Follow Jason Jordan on Twitter: @JayJayUSATODAY