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 Los Angeles Clippers shooting guard J.J. Redick’s AAU coach at BWSL (Hampton, Va.) Boo Williams.
Jason Jordan: What’s your best memory of J.J. on the court in high school?
Boo Williams: We were playing in the semifinals of the national AAU tournament and it was a few seconds left in a game against Amar’e Stoudemire’s team. We ran an out-of-bounds play for J.J. and he made a three-point buzzer beater. It was a beautiful shot!
JJ: When did you know he’d be a pro?
BW: After his freshman year in high school. I’d never seen a kid shoot the ball the way he did. Ever. He would get better every year with learning to put the ball on the floor, learning to create space to get his shot off and learning to move without the ball to get open.
JJ: What was your best off the court memory of J.J.?
BW: Probably just how committed he was to getting better. You’ve gotta remember this is AAU so it’s not like the team practices are in your city a lot of times. He made a commitment to drive four hours every weekend to practice and to compete. He did that for three years. He was that committed in everything that he did. That carried over into the game.
JJ: Safe to say he had the green light?
BW: (Laughs) Oh yeah! We didn’t care if it took all night to make one I’d tell him to keep shooting it. He was definitely the guy who would work on his shot a lot. He’d shoot hundreds of threes every day. When you put that kind of work in you know that it’s gonna go in. You’re always confident in that. He was smart because he didn’t try to be something that he’s not. He always played to his strengths.
JJ: Who would win a three-point contest between J.J. and Reggie Miller?
BW: Ooh I don’t know! I’m not sure about that one. I mean J.J. could shoot it now! He’s pretty good! Don’t count him out. You know, I’m surprised that J.J. isn’t in the NBA three-point contest. That’s crazy to me.
JJ: Does he surprise you with the impact he’s made in the NBA already?
BW: Not at all, and I think he’s in the best situation right now in L.A. With him being a shooter and playing with Chris Paul, one of the best point guards in the league. That’s the perfect match for him. I think we’ll see his game elevated even more in this situation.
Follow Jason Jordan on Twitter: @JayJayUSATODAY