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 Washington Wizards point guard John Wall’s high school and AAU coach Kendrick Williams, who serves as director for Team Wall, Wall’s AAU program.
Jason Jordan: What was your best memory of John on the court?
Kendrick Williams: It was the game against Ravenscroft his senior year. They had beaten us the first time and we came to their place this particular time and John had two lapses in discipline in a row during the game. I really got on him after that and he came over and apologized and told me that he was gonna steal the ball and finish with a windmill. I can’t make this stuff up. He went right out there, stole the ball on the next play and finished with a windmill.
JJ: When did you know he’d be a pro?
KW: Probably watching him play in the City of Palms tournament. He was just really dominant playing against the elite competition. He did it effortlessly too. I mean he was playing against some of the best guards in the country and it was so obvious that he was a lot better than them.
JJ: What’s something people would be shocked to know about John?
KW: That he hates to disappoint people – almost to a detriment. Sometimes that hurts him as a leader on the court because he wants everyone to be happy. That and his favorite food is chicken tenders.
JJ: What personality was he on the team?
KW: He was kinda quiet and to himself. He just went out and got it done. He led by example.
JJ: First impression when you first saw him play?
KW: I thought that he was really fast and a showboat, but he was dominant! He was 13, but he was just the best player on the court. He’s never not been the best player on the court. He’s always been that good. I’ve never seen him on a court where he wasn’t the dominant one. That’s amazing.
JJ: Does he amaze you with all the things he’s accomplishing?
KW: Yes, but that’s a good thing. I never knew it would be this big. He’s that good. He’s always amazing me from earning the No. 1 spot in high school to ruling college basketball. He ruled the college game. He was college basketball. I can’t think of another player that ruled the college game like that where, night in and night out, you were always talking about John Wall. I think the sky is the limit for John.
Here’s how John Wall got it done in high school.
Follow Jason Jordan on Twitter: @JayJayUSATODAY