Well before becoming the WNBA’s second all-time leading scorer (6,263 points) and winning four consecutive gold medals as a member of the U.S. Olympic Women’s Basketball Team, Lisa Leslie was hardly a stranger to the superstar athlete spotlight.
Before her storied college basketball career at the University of Southern California, where she helped the Trojans to four NCAA tournaments and was named the 1994 National Player of the Year, Leslie shined at Morningside (Inglewood, Calif.).
Even as a 6-foot-2 freshman, Leslie stood out — she started every varsity game. During her sophomore season, she tasted greater success as she helped Morningside advance to the state playoffs. However, the title game ended in disappointment when Leslie missed what would have been the game-winning shot at the buzzer.
Junior year, the 6-foot-5 center returned with a vengeance. She recovered from her sophomore performance by leading Morningside to the 1989 state title. Leslie spent the following summer playing for the 1989 USA Junior World Championship team.
Senior year, she capped her prep career with a repeat performance in the form of a second consecutive state title. That season, Leslie averaged 27.3 points and 15.1 rebounds per game. Who knows what her numbers would have been had her high school coach, Frank Scott, not pulled her out of the second half of several games (so as not to embarrass opposing teams).
Revisit Feb. 7, one of the most notable games of the senior’s high school career. By halftime, Morningside led South Torrance 102-24. Leslie had contributed 49 of those points. For the second half, she poured in 52 more, and her 101 total points were just four shy of taking down the national single-game record Cheryl Miller set at Riverside (Calif.). A forfeit from South Torrance’s coach halted Leslie’s chance to accomplish the feat.