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Jordan, Bird miss the cut for top 15

4/3/2009

This week, ESPN RISE takes a look at the top 50 high school basketball players of all time. It's a tough task, and our experts debated the criteria. Check back each day as we count down to No. 1. Disagree with our list? Want to weigh in? Sound off on the conversation page.

25. Adrian Dantley (DeMatha/Hyattsville, Md.)
Dantley enjoyed success at every level: in high school (he graduated in 1973), college (at Notre Dame), the Olympics (he was a gold-medal winner with the U.S. men's team in 1976) and the NBA (in which he averaged 24.3 points in 16 seasons). In 2008, he was elected into the Basketball Hall of Fame, joining high school teammate Morgan Wootten. During Dantley's final two seasons, DeMatha went 60-2 and won two D.C. championships.

24. Ralph Sampson (Harrisonburg, Va.)
A towering figure on the prep level, Sampson grew to 7-foot-3 by the time he graduated high school. Sampson averaged 30 points and 19 rebounds as a senior, and Harrisonburg won two state titles during his high school tenure (1978, '79). He was a three-time national player of the year at Virginia and played in the NBA.

23. Kenny Anderson (Archbishop Molloy/Briarwood, N.Y.)
Anderson was a special player, garnering All-City honors four times and All-American honors three times. When he graduated high school in 1989, Anderson was New York's all-time leading scorer with 2,621 points and was named the Gatorade national player of the year. He also played in the McDonald's All-American Game. He played collegiately at Georgia Tech and was a first-round NBA draft pick of the New Jersey Nets in 1991.

22. John Havlicek (Bridgeport, Ohio)
Havlicek played 16 years for the Boston Celtics and won eight NBA titles. He is a member of the Basketball Hall of Fame. "Hondo" gained fame as a three-sport star at Bridgeport, where the school's gymnasium is named in his honor. The 6-5 Havilcek, who graduated high school in 1958, had his high school, collegiate and NBA jerseys retired. He won a gold medal with the U.S. men's basketball team in the 1960 Olympics.

21. Chris Webber (Detroit Country Day/Birmingham, Mich.)
Webber was the most ballyhooed Michigan high school player since Magic Johnson. He helped DCD win three state championships and scored more than 2,000 career points. In 1991, he was Gatorade's national player of the year after averaging 29.4 points and 13 boards. He later played at Michigan and 15 years in the NBA before retiring in 2008.

20. Larry Bird (Springs Valley/French Lick, Ind.)
Bird grew up in rural Indiana, where he earned the tag "The Hick from French Lick." Bird's legend grew after he graduated high school in 1974. The versatile 6-9 wing player attended Indiana University briefly before leaving for Indiana State. At ISU, he guided the Sycamores to the 1979 NCAA national championship game, where they bowed to Michigan State and Magic Johnson. His pro career with the Boston Celtics also is legendary. He won three titles and later was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame. Watch Larry Bird play in high school.

19. Robert Parish (Woodlawn & Union/Shreveport, La.)
Parish graduated from high school as a relatively unknown center in 1972 and later attended Centenary College. He scored 3,562 points at Woodlawn, a total that ranks 11th all time according to the 2008 National High School Sports Record Book. He was the eighth pick of the Golden State Warriors in the 1976 NBA draft but gained fame as the man in the middle for the Celtics. He has four championship rings and was named to the NBA's 50th anniversary team.

18. Michael Jordan (Laney/Wilmington, N.C.)
Perhaps the greatest player in history was cut from Laney's varsity squad as a sophomore. It only lit an long-lasting competitive fire that fueled six NBA titles with the Chicago Bulls, two Olympic gold medals and the NCAA men's tournament national championship in 1982 with North Carolina. At Laney, Jordan averaged 20 points in his two varsity seasons and was a McDonald's All-American in 1981. Jordan will be inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in September. Watch Michael Jordan play in high school.

17. Pete Maravich (Broughton/Raleigh, N.C.)
Maravich grew up in western Pennsylvania but attended high schools in South Carolina and North Carolina, following his father, who was a coach. He earned the nickname as "Pistol Pete" while attending Daniel High in Central, S.C. He was known for his extraordinary ballhandling skills, fundamentals and free-throw accuracy. In three years of college ball at LSU (NCAA prohibited freshmen from playing varsity), Maravich finished as the NCAA all-time leading scorer with 3,667 points (an average of 44.2 points per game). He was a first-round pick of the Atlanta Hawks in the 1970 NBA draft and finished his injury-riddled pro career with the Boston Celtics in 1980. He died suddenly in 1988 at 40 years old. Watch Pete Maravich play in high school.

16. Alonzo Mourning (Indian River/Chesapeake, Va.)
As a high school senior in 1988, Mourning was named Gatorade's national player of the year and played in the McDonald's All-American Game before attending Georgetown. He was the main reason Indian River won 51 straight games and the state title in 1987 when he was a junior. He averaged a triple-double, 25 points, 15 rebounds and 12 blocks that season. At 6-10, he was a dominant defensive player in the NBA and was a key member of the Miami Heat's 2006 NBA championship-winning team. Watch Alonzo Mourning play in high school.