There will never be another phenomenon quite like LeBron James in high school.
Long before the age of social media and YouTube highlights, James was a household name by his senior year at St. Vincent-St. Mary High School in Akron, Ohio, where he lettered in both basketball and football. Yes, plenty of high school sensations have come since James, but the phenomenon isn’t quite the same.
Think I’m kidding? James was such a big deal that some of his high school games were televised nationally. On one occasion, the pregame teaser compared a high school LeBron to the likes of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan and Oscar Robertson.
Perhaps the most impressive part of it all is that James has continuously exceeded the expectations levied upon him.
As SN revisits James’ prep career, take a look back at his five biggest performances on the hardwood.
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5. Jan. 4, 2003 vs. Mater Dei (CA)
Line: 21 PTS (8-24 FG), 9 REB, 7 AST
It wasn’t James’ most efficient game, but he flirted with a triple-double as he led St. Vincent-St. Mary to a win over California’s Mater Dei High School in an ESPN game played at UCLA’s famed Pauley Pavilion.
Five months later, James would be right back on ESPN as he was selected first overall by the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2003 NBA Draft.
The rest, as they say, is history.
4. March 25, 2000 vs. Jamestown Greeneview (OH)
Line: 25 PTS (10-12 FG), 9 REB, 5 AST
As a 15-year-old freshman, James helped lead St. Vincent-St. Mary to the first of three state titles won during his high school career with this performance against Jamestown Greeneview High School.
Not very many freshmen get to play varsity ball and even fewer make the impact that James did. This performance is the perfect example of that.
3. Jan. 14, 2003 vs. Mentor (OH)
Line: 50 PTS (19-25 FG, 11-17 3FG), 9 REB, 2 AST
Two weeks after celebrating his 18th birthday, James set a then-school record with a 50-point performance in a win over Mentor High School.
As a prospect, James wasn’t thought of as a knockdown shooter, but in this one, he knocked down 11 3s at a blistering 64.7 percent clip. Weeks later, LeBron would break his own record with the performance that lands at No. 1 on this list.
2. Dec. 12, 2002 vs. Oak Hill Academy (VA)
Line: 31 PTS (12-25 FG), 13 REB, 6 AST
After losing to national powerhouse Oak Hill as a sophomore and junior, James finally led his team to a victory over the No. 1 team in the nation (on ESPN2, no less.)
In the first-ever high school game broadcasted by the national sports leader, a 17-year-old James did what we’ve become so accustomed to seeing him do on a national stage, flirting with a triple-double to showcase his multifaceted game.
Not bad for your first time on national TV.
1. Feb. 8, 2003 vs. Westchester (CA)
Line: 52 PTS (21-34 FG), 7 REB, 2 AST
James’ high-school career-best 52 points matched the total of his opponent as St. Vincent-St. Mary earned a 78-52 win over Los Angeles’ Westchester High.
But it wasn’t just any team.
The 2002-03 Westchester Comets were ranked seventh nationally and featured two future NBA players in Trevor Ariza and Bobby Brown. To match the scoring output of a high school team is impressive, but to do it to a team that features two future NBA players is absurd.
From an early age, LeBron has set the bar for us to expect the unexpected.
High school stats courtesy of Basketball-Reference.
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