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.
We catch up 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.
For Girls Sports Month, I caught up with WNBA star Diana Taurasi’s high school coach at Don Antoni Lugo (Chino, Calif.) Larry Webster, who is now retired.
Jason Jordan: What’s your best memory of Diana on the court back in high school?
Larry Webster: Well, as you can imagine that’s a pretty tough one for Diana. It was probably during her junior year at the Santa Barbara tournament. We had a number of really good games there. We actually didn’t even win that one, but I remember her having a lot of “Taurasi” moments in that one. She just dominated a team that was full of talented players. What you see at the pro level and what you saw at the college level is what she’s always done. She’s always been dominant. She actually used to practice with the boys’ team sometimes. I’d imagine she would get the best of them too. She was really good.
JJ: What’s your best memory of Diana off the court back then?
LW: Just how fun-loving and cool she is. There’s a part of Diana that’s serious too, but she’s mostly fun-loving. There were a lot of expectations on her in high school and I was glad that she got a chance to get away to Connecticut and learn from Coach (Geno) Auriemma.
JJ: What were some of her other talents away from the hardwood?
LW: I never saw her play, but the word was that she was a really good soccer player. They said she was awesome.
JJ: What’s the craziest story you can remember from her recruitment?
LW: When she went to sign her letter-of-intent it wasn’t a very happy day. Her mom didn’t want her to go to Connecticut. She thought she was gonna stay here and go to UCLA. I definitely remember that. But I always thought Connecticut was the best place for her.
JJ: Do you think she could play in the NBA?
LW: No. She’s talented, there’s no doubt, but Diana is realistic. The size and strength of the NBA players would be too much.
JJ: When it’s all said and done is Diana Taurasi a first ballot Hall of Famer?
LW: Oh without a doubt. She’s been so dominant. She’s definitely a Hall of Famer from day one. Of course!
Here’s how Diana Taurasi got it done in high school.
Follow Jason Jordan on Twitter: @JayJayUSATODAY