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.
Today we caught up with Adley Rutschman’s high school coach at Sherwood (Oregon) High School Nathan Hickok.
Rutschman was picked No. 1 overall by the Baltimore Orioles in the MLB draft on Monday night.
Jason Jordan: What’s your best memory of Adley on the field?
Nathan Hickok: (Laughs) Wow, that’s hard. Well, the moment that sticks out was his senior year in our first round playoff game; we had a one-run lead late and he hit a grand slam homer. To this day that’s the hardest ball I’ve ever seen hit. It was about 50-70 feet over the right field fence. It was one of those moments where you just know that he’s one of those guys that’s beyond anything that we’ll ever see around here.
JJ: What’s your best memory of Adley off the field?
NH: I don’t know that there was just one moment; he was a lot more reserved and quiet as compared to his persona now. He’s matured a lot. He was just really quiet and considerate and thoughtful; just a genuinely good kid.
JJ: In hindsight did you know he’d be where he’s at?
NH: (Laughs) I wish I could say that! His dad would bring him to the practices when I was coaching at George Fox University and he was pretty small then. He didn’t mature physically until his sophomore year, but he had a better swing than half the kids on my college team at age 11. You could tell that he was special. His dad did a great job of letting him grow into his abilities and not over coach him or anything.
RELATED: Super 25 Baseball Rankings
JJ: Can you recall any crazy stories from his recruitment?
NH: He was recruited hardest as a pitcher coming out of his sophomore year. He was 93-95 MPH around that time. He was really solid defensively and had a great bat. Then he went to a big tournament in North Carolina after his junior year and really showed what he was capable of against elite pitching and behind the plate. After that everyone was on him as a catcher.
JJ: Did he have any random off-the-field talents back then?
NH: (Laughs) Not that I can recall, but I heard a few times on the broadcasts that he had taken up ballroom dancing in college. Apparently, he’s really in to it.
JJ: Will Adley live up to the hype?
NH: I don’t see any reason why he can’t live up to it. He’s getting a lot of Buster Posey comparisons and they’re calling him the best draft prospect since Bryce Harper. He has the talent and the work ethic and he’s such a good, humble kid from an amazing family; other than injuries I don’t see a reason why he won’t be an all-star when he gets to the big leagues.
Follow Jason Jordan on Twitter: @JayJayUSATODAY