Big names make cut for all-decade team


The past 10 years have been a golden age for high school hoops. Highlights
included an all-time great player in LeBron James, an all-time great team
with an all-time great coach at Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.) and
three No. 1 NBA draft picks before the age minimum came into play in 2006.

When this year's senior class graduates, the door will close on the new
millennium's first decade of high school ballers. So after ESPNRISE.COM
debated the best basketball state and counted down the top high school ballers
, now is the perfect time to name our All-Decade Dream Team.

Like selecting the crew that took gold in Beijing last summer, choosing the
All-Decade Dream Team wasn't as simple as throwing the 15 best players
together. We were looking for the best team. That's why someone like J.J. Redick
makes the starting lineup while Carmelo Anthony comes off the bench.

To create a well-rounded squad, you first need a dynamic playmaker who
makes his teammates better and doesn't need to score to be effective. Then a
deadeye shooter at the 2 is a must. At small forward, you need … Forget it, you
need LeBron. Case closed.

Up front, match one dominant scorer with a big who can rebound and block
shots and you're all set. Then the bench should be loaded with players who fill
specific roles, whether it's defense, rebounding, instant offense or leadership at
the point.

Keep in mind this team is about what these players did in high school, not
college or the pros. So guys who blew up after high school like D-Wade don't
make the cut. Meanwhile, a player languishing overseas like Dajuan Wagner
is represented.

So enjoy, debate and even disagree with our picks. Just don't think you're
beating this squad.

The starting five

West Forsyth (Clemmons, N.C.)
Class of 2003
Who better to guide this ship than CP3, a consummate floor general who
proved he could run a team of stars back in high school. Well before
becoming an All-Star with the New Orleans Hornets, Paul dished out a
game-high 10 dimes at the 2003 McDonald's All-American Game. That
capped a senior season in which he averaged 30.8 points, eight assists, six
steals and five boards per game.

Cave Spring (Roanoke, Va.)
Class of 2002
Every elite basketball team needs a lights-out perimeter shooter who
can stretch defenses. So while it may seem odd for Redick to make this
team even though he can barely crack the Orlando Magic's rotation,
there wasn't a better high school shooter this decade. Redick nailed five
3-pointers en route to 26 points and MVP honors at the 2002 McDonald's
All-American Game. Fittingly, he also won the event's 3-point contest.

St. Vincent-St. Mary (Akron, Ohio)
Class of 2003
Do we even need to say why? Not only is King James the most talented
player on this roster, he's a perfect fit for any system. Even in high school,
LeBron could handle the ball, score from anywhere, pass as well as any
point guard and lock up his opponent on defense. The two-time Gatorade
National Player of the Year averaged 30.4 points, 9.7 boards and 4.9 assists
per game as a senior before Cleveland wisely took him with the No. 1 pick
of the '03 NBA Draft.

Cypress Creek (Orlando, Fla.)
Class of 2002
The explosiveness that makes Stoudemire so great with the Phoenix Suns
today was on full display during his prep days. With a defensive beast like
Dwight Howard starting alongside him on the All-Decade Dream Team,
Stoudemire would be freed up to do what he does best -- score. The
man-child averaged 29.1 points per game as a senior and would
especially flourish running the floor alongside CP3.

Southwest Atlanta Christian (Atlanta)
Class of 2004
Howard's scoring, defense, rebounding and power give the Orlando
Magic a low-post anchor who's good for 20 and 10 almost every night. If
he can do that now in the NBA, just imagine the damage he'd do as the
center of this squad. In high school, Howard's presence down low made it
nearly impossible for opponents to score inside. He averaged 18.3
rebounds and eight blocks per game during a senior campaign in which
he was named Gatorade National Player of the Year. Oh, and he chipped
in with 25.5 points per game that year, too.

The bench

Willowridge (Houston)
Class of 2001
Now with the Indiana Pacers, Ford has been
slowed by injuries during his NBA career. But
when he was in high school, hardly anybody
could match his point guard skills. Ford ran the
show for a balanced Willowridge squad that went
39-0 and won its second straight state title during
his senior season. That kind of leadership would
make Ford the perfect backup to Paul on the
All-Decade Dream Team.

Simeon (Chicago)
Class of 2007
As a Chicago Bulls rookie, Rose is already wowing
NBA crowds. He's done the same thing at every
level, including high school, where he led Simeon
to consecutive state crowns as a junior and senior.
In overtime in the state finals as a junior, Rose
stole the ball, drove the length of the court and
hit the game-winning jumper with one second
left. That winning pedigree and clutch mentality
-- not to mention his blazing speed -- would
benefit any team.

Huntington (W.Va.)
Class of 2007
The decade's most hyped prep baller not named
LeBron would bring versatility to this team. Mayo's
scoring ability as a rookie with the Memphis Grizzlies
has meant the other aspects of his game have been
overlooked. But in high school he did it all, averaging
29.6 points, five boards and 4.9 assists per game as a
senior. Perhaps Mayo's best quality is that he's not
afraid to take -- and usually make -- the big shot.

Camden (N.J.)
Class of 2001
Illnesses have prevented Wagner from fulfilling the
promise he showed when the Cleveland Cavs took
him sixth in the 2002 NBA Draft, but in high school
no one filled it up quite like him. Most famous for
scoring 100 in a single game, Wagner averaged 42.5
points as a senior while setting New Jersey's all-time
scoring record (3,462 career points). He'd provide
the scoring spark off the bench all great teams need.

Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.)
Class of 2002
Other than "The Wire," Melo is Baltimore's finest
export this decade. Whether it was scoring 33
points in a quarter for the Denver Nuggets earlier
this year or averaging 21.7 points per game for
Oak Hill as a senior, Melo has always been
able to heat up in a hurry. Back in high school
he was also a dominant rebounder (8.1 boards
per game) and big-time winner (32-1 record as a
senior). Add it all up and you have the perfect
sixth man.

Montrose Christian (Rockville, Md.)
Class of 2006
You want to play a team that can bring a scorer
like Durant off the bench? Didn't think so. Durant's
role on the All-Decade Dream Team would be
pretty simple -- shoot the ball. One of the best
scorers at every level he's played, KD averaged
22.4 points per game as a senior at Montrose
Christian. His combination of size (6-foot-10) and
range (well beyond the NBA line) would make him
a difficult matchup for anybody.

Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.)
Class of 2004
Smith is the Jamie Foxx of this crew -- he can do a
lot of things well. Smith's ability to defend multiple
positions would allow him to spell all the frontcourt
starters. And if the team needs an energizing block
or dunk, he's your man. Now with the Atlanta
Hawks, Smith averaged 22.3 points, 8.4 rebounds,
5.9 blocks, 4.4 assists and 3.1 steals for a 38-0 Oak
Hill squad as a senior.

Poplar Bluff (Poplar Bluff, Mo.)
Class of 2005
Energy guys off the bench are vital to every great team, and
Hansbrough is like Red Bull with a little -- make that a lot of --
extra caffeine. Oh yeah, the kid can also ball a little, too. Before
becoming a college hoop star and National Player of the Year at
North Carolina, Hansbrough won back-to-back state titles at Poplar
Bluff, averaging 28.2 points and 13.4 boards per game as a senior.

Lake Oswego (Lake Oswego, Ore.)
Class of 2007
The great thing about Love is he wouldn't need to score to
be effective. Now a Minnesota Timberwolves rookie, Love
is a brilliant passer for a big man -- either from the post
or with his trademark outlets -- and would create
plenty of fast breaks and good looks for his talented
teammates. Of course, he'd also provide a polished
inside scorer. Love averaged 33.4 points and 16.5
rebounds per game as a senior.

Lawrence North (Indianapolis, Ind.)
Class of 2006
Any team would be happy if its backup center was a
two-time Gatorade National Player of the Year
and three-time state champion. Don't let
Oden's up-and-down transition to
the NBA with the Portland Trail
Blazers fool you. In high
school, he was a defensive-
minded 7-footer
who was a one-man
block party. And if Oden
gets the ball anywhere
near the hoop, he's finishing
with a rim-rocking slam.

Coach of the decade

Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.)
Smith would definitely be comfortable coaching a
group of stars: He does it nearly every year at Oak Hill,
getting a group of ballers who were standouts at their
previous schools to play together. For the past 24
years, Smith has taken transfers from across the
country and created a cohesive program that's
dominated the prep hoops landscape, winning
more than 700 games in his tenure.

Ryan Canner-O'Mealy and Jon Mahoney are senior writers for ESPN RISE Magazine.