Editor's note: This feature originally appeared in the Dallas/Ft. Worth December 2001 issue of SchoolSports Magazine (which later became ESPN RISE Magazine). We're taking a look back at high school greats as part of ESPN RISE's Best Baller package.
When you look at an athlete like Lincoln High (Dallas) senior Chris Bosh, you can't help but feel a tinge of envy. Everything seems to come so easily to him. The blue-chip power forward is tall and quick and moves on the floor as if he was born with a ball in his hand. His God-given talent and 6-foot-10 frame have made the lifelong Dallas resident a top-ranked national recruit.
Guys like Bosh are the envy of every short, slow, pot-bellied weekend warrior who can't jump more than 10 inches off the hardcourt. But even Bosh, headed to Georgia Tech and possibly the NBA, knows what it's like to deal with limitations.
There is, for instance, his weight. Bosh weighs only 208 pounds, and, in these days of jacked-up ballplayers, that's a distinct disadvantage. As a comparison, 6-foot-11 Kwame Brown, the high school power forward who was selected No. 1 overall in this year's NBA Draft, weighed 240 as a senior.
"He has got to get stronger basically," says Mitch Malone, who coaches Bosh on the Texas Blue Chips, a summer league team sponsored by adidas. "He is starting to put on weight. He will probably have to add another 15, 20 pounds of muscle. He's still not where he should be, but he's making progress."
Bosh, 17, has tried to acquire the Shaquille O'Neal look (or at least Kevin Garnett) by spending considerable time and energy in the weight room. But while he is unquestionably stronger than he was two years ago, all the bench presses and squats in the world can't get him to his desired weight. Yes, even guys with NBA potential know about frustrating physical constraints.
"Yeah, I have been trying to put on weight," says Bosh. "I've been trying, that's all I can say. I don't think I'm going to put on weight right now because I've been trying really hard for it, and I've been getting a little bit, but, you know People tell me, 'Don't worry about that; just worry about getting stronger. You can get stronger without gaining weight.'"
The bulking-up difficulty aside, things could not have gone much better for Bosh in the past 12 months. He averaged 18 points, 11.6 rebounds and 3.5 blocked shots per game last year for a team that was 26-2 in the regular season and advanced to the Class 4A state semifinals. The third team SchoolSports Preseason All-American (see page 26) kicks off his senior season ranked the 13th-best high school hoop player in the nation by SchoolSports.com. And with first team All-Area guard Bryan Hopkins (page 18) by his side, Bosh has a legitimate chance to win the state title in March.
What sets Bosh apart is that he has the quickness, ballhandling skills and shooting range of a small forward or even a guard, but he has the height and reach of a center. In fact, Bosh started his high school career playing in the three spot. He grew four inches between his sophomore and junior seasons to become a 6-foot-9 power forward, but he still managed to retain his athleticism.
"He's too tall for the small guys and too quick for the big guys," says Malone, who coaches one of the top AAU teams in the nation. "I don't think there are any big guys in the country who can run the floor with him."
The Blue Chips coach has an interesting theory about Bosh's physical development. Malone says that while Bosh's body shot up, his feet remain a relatively small size 13. As a result, Bosh still has the dazzling footwork he had when he was smaller. Whatever the reason, the unusual athleticism for a kid his size has a lot of people talking about an NBA future for Bosh.
"He definitely has the potential to be a lottery pick some time in the future," says Lincoln boys' basketball coach Len Bishop.
Malone believes that Bosh compares favorably to last year's NBA-bound high schoolers -- Brown (Wizards), Eddy Curry (Bulls), Tyson Chandler (Bulls) and DeSagana Diop (Cavaliers).
"Being honest with you, I have talked to a lot of NBA scouts, and depending on what kind of season he has this year, he could actually go in the first round this year," says Malone. "He could go this year or go to college one year. We're set for him to go to college, but like I said, anything could happen."
"I always dreamed of making [the NBA]," says Bosh. "I definitely see myself playing in it one day. I really think I can make it."
Despite those NBA dreams, Bosh fully expects to suit up for the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets next season. "They just had everything I wanted," says Bosh, who also considered Michigan, Florida and Miami. "They had my major. I like the surrounding city. As far as basketball, I got along with the players and I got along with coach (Paul) Hewitt real well. We have a good relationship. Plus, they are a program on the rise."
But before college or the NBA, there is something else on Bosh's plate. Bosh, who made his varsity basketball debut during the playoffs his freshman year, could be in for a heck of a final high school season. Coach Bishop believes the Tigers can be one of the top five teams in the nation. To that end, he has scheduled some tough out-of-state matchups, including a trip to the elite American Express Tournament in St. Charles, La., and the KMOX Shootout in St. Louis, Mo. Bishop's expectations for Bosh are just as high as his expectations for the team.
"I think he can have a double-double in points and rebounds along with probably five or six blocks a game," says Bishop. "That's my expectations for him."
It's a high bar to set, but Bosh has performed at that level in the past. In a game against Dallas Kimball High last year, Bosh scored 35 points and pulled down 18 rebounds. Against West Memphis High (Ark.), Bosh scored 33 points and blocked eight shots.
"I just want to get rebounds, because I know if I get rebounds, I am going to get points," says Bosh of his goal for this season. "I just want to get every rebound that comes off the glass."