On the contrary, many of the greatest high school athletes didn’t make it to the pros once they graduated. Some of these athletes showed great potential and went on to do great things.
Ken Griffey, Jr.
Ken Griffey Jr. played baseball and football while at Archbishop Moeller High school in Cincinnati, Ohio. He only played baseball for two years during high school. During college, he played for the Seattle Mariners for two seasons before moving to the Cincinnati Reds from 2000 for eight seasons and then went on to the Chicago White Sox team for one season in 2008.
While his father, Ken Griffey Sr. was hitting home runners for the Yankees as well as the Braves, his son Ken Griffey Jr. was doing the same at Moeller High. But Ken Jr. didn't do as well until his junior year as he preferred to tag along with his dad through the major league clubhouses.
Bottom Line: Ken Griffey, Jr.
During his two years playing at high school, Griffey Jr. was picked as the National High School Player of the Year. As an all-around star athlete, Griffey also played football and went on to receive a few scholarships from Michigan and Oklahoma, among other schools.
Ken Griffey Jr. signed lucrative deals with companies like Nike and Nintendo, and he is one of only 29 players in baseball history to date to have appeared in major league games in four different calendar decades.
Jerry Lukas was a basketball player, track and field athlete at Middletown High school in Middletown, Ohio. His highlight was being named Mr. Basketball USA for two years, a two-time state champion, and is a state champion in discus.
In college, he played for Ohio State, the Cincinnati Royals from 1963 to 1969, San Francisco Warriors from 1969 to 1971, and lastly, the New York Knicks from 1971 to 1974.
Bottom Line: Jerry Lucas
Just as coaches are now looking for the next Michael Jordan, back in the 1950s, they were on the lookout for the next Wilt Chamberlain. And Jerry Lucas was first compared to "Wilt the Stilt," he averaged 34.0 points per game while at Middletown High School and led his team to an incredible 76-game winning streak.
Jerry Lucas even surpassed Wilt Chamberlain's prep high school scoring record and also knocked down 75 percent of his free throws.
Robert Griffin III
Rober Griffin III played football, basketball, track and field athletics. He attended Copperas Cove High School in Texas. During his time, he made 3,357 passing yards and 41 touchdowns, 2,161 rushing yards, and 32 touchdowns. He also made the All-USA Track and Field team.
During his time at college, he played at Baylor and made it to the NFL in 2012, where he still plays now. He's played for the Washington Redskins, Cleveland Browns and Baltimore Ravens.
Bottom Line: Robert Griffin III
Griffin made a 25-4 record as the starting quarterback at Copperas Cove. He posted a 41-to-9 touchdown-to-interception rate during his career as Copperas moved on to two state championships, only to fail both times. But he did manage to win two state championships as a track athlete when he set two state records in both the 110-meter and 300-meter hurdles.
His best time in the 300 meters was 35.33, which is just one one-hundredth of a second short for the national high school record.
Willie Wilson played baseball, football, and basketball at Summit High school in Union County, New Jersey. His key stats include making the football Parade All-American team and the Rawlings All-American team in baseball. He also scored over 1,000 points in basketball.
During college, Willie played starred as Major League Baseball player from 1976 to 1994. He was on the Kansas City Royal teams from 1976 to 1990, and then the Chicago Cubs from 1993 to 1994.
Bottom Line: Willie Wilson
Willie Wilson started as a speedy runner while at Summit High, then he became a speedy outfielder in his major league career. Willie was also a star football player and rushed nearly 4,000 yards in high school. The Kansas City Royals quickly realized his All-Star talent and snatched him during the first round of the 1974 draft.
Willie Wilson may not have lasted for 19 years in the NFL as he did in MLB, but for many people, he showed real potential, which he managed to actualize.
David Clyde played baseball and football during his high school career at Westchester Academy for International Studies in Houston, Texas. David Clyde's key statistics were 0.18 as his earned run average in his senior year as well as an 18-0 record. He threw five no-hitters. Six weeks after turning 18, he became the first overall pick in the 1973 Major League Baseball draft, and just three weeks after that, he made his big league debut.
He played in MLB for six years; his teams were the Texas Rangers from 1973 to 1975 and Cleveland Indians from 1978 to 1979.
Bottom Line: David Clyde
David Clyde was welcomed as the next Sandy Koufax in high school due to him having a southpaw stance with a slender build. But there was just no way that he could to replicate the accomplishments he had at Westchester when he yielded only three earned runs in 148 innings.
David Clyde is one of a few players who went directly to the Major League without playing in the minors first, but at the age of 24, he was out in 1979.
Tom Glavine was another star athlete in high school; he played baseball and hockey at Billerica Memorial High School in Billerica, Massachusetts. Tom Glavine scored 44 goals and 41 assists in hockey in his senior year. He played for the Major League Baseball between 1987 to 2008 for the Atlanta Braves and the New York Mets.
Growing up in northern Massachusetts, it made sense that Tom Glavine was more of a hockey fan than a baseball fan. The ice rink was his first home, and he played against half a dozen future NHL players.
Bottom Line: Tom Glavine
Tom Glavine was even drafted by the Los Angeles Kings straight out of high school, but being left-handed meant that he a unique skill set on the mound than compared to the ice.
Glavine was a fourth-round pick in the NHL and then a second-round pick in Major League Baseball, he ended up choosing baseball, and the Hall of Famer never looked back.
Kobe Bryant earned national recognition during his impressive high school career at Lower Merion High School in Ardmore, Philadelphia. Kobe went on to play on the varsity basketball team as a freshman. He had 2,883 career points and was Southern Pennsylvania's all-time leading scorer. Kobe played in the NBA from 1996 to 2016 for the Los Angeles Lakers.
Bryant earned the Naismith High School Player of the Year and fun fact; he ended off his high school career by attending prom with R&B singer Brandy.
Bottom Line: Kobe Bryant
Kobe Bryant spent time some of his younger years in Italy and played against adult men, so upon his return to the U.S. for school, it served him well. Kobe Bryant was so good at Lower Merion that attracted attention from college recruiters from early on.
Bryant primarily played as a shooting guard. He was often referred to as one of the most formidable scorers in the NBA.
We can't talk about Tim Tebow in high school without mentioning the controversy regarding him being homeschooled. Fortunately, Florida law allows homeschooled students to participate in the team of the local high school in the school district where they lived.
Tim Tebow was an all-rounder, he played football, baseball, and basketball. Twice, he was the Florida Player of the Year. He set the state record for total yardage in a season at 5,576, and he had 9,940 career passing yards.
Bottom Line: Tim Tebow
While at college, he played for the NFL from 2010 for two years. His teams were the Denver Broncos from 2010 to 2011, and the New York Jets for 2012. Tim had any choice of school in the district that he wanted to play, so many states have since then attempted to pass what's known as the "Tebow Bill" to allow homeschoolers similar options.
Tim set the Florida prep record for total yards at 12,960 and total touchdowns, with 159. Tim also helped lead his team to what still remains as its only state championship in football, and Tim Tebow was chosen as one of two quarterbacks on the Florida High School Athletic Association's All-Century Team.
Ronald Curry originally hails from Virginia, where he played football and basketball while attending Hampton High School. He made 11,519 yards of total offense, which is also a state record, 186 total touchdowns, and 21.9 PPG while in his senior year playing basketball.
Ronald Curry and Michael Vick were the same age and lived in the same district, and these two formidable athletes competed against each other throughout high school. He played for the University of North Carolina and then went to the NFL, where he played for the Oakland Raiders.
Bottom Line: Ronald Curry
Michael Vick may have been a great player, but his talent was overshadowed by Curry, who was a top pick in both basketball and football. Throughout his time at Hampton High, Curry won four state titles – three in football and one in basketball.
Former Florida State University coach Bobby Bowden proclaimed that Curry was the best prospective player he had ever noticed. Still, Curry spurned both his home team of Virginia and FSU to become a two-sport player at the University of North Carolina.
Josh Booty played both football, baseball at Evangel Christian Academy in Shreveport, Louisiana. Throughout his high school career, he reached 11,700 passing yards and made 126 touchdowns. He was the USA Today Offensive Player of the Year and four-time All-State in baseball. Despite missing four games as a senior, he became the first high school player in the history of football to pass for over 10,000 yards. He played for Louisiana State University and the Florida Marlins.
Eventually, he earned a spot on Dick Butkus' All-Time National High School Team, and Josh beat out another Louisiana quarterback Peyton Manning for the top state awards.
Bottom Line: Josh Booty
While on the diamond, Josh Booty came in second, earning him a silver medal for the U.S. Junior Olympic team, and he hit 12 home runs in just 70 at-bats, all as a senior. When he graduated from high school, he chose baseball and spent the next five years with the Marlins before turning to football.
Josh was drafted in the sixth round of the NFL draft as the 177th pick overall by the Seattle Seahawks, but he never played a down in the NFL.
Playing hockey as a 16-year-old, Sidney Crosby went on to win his league's Rookie of the Year award, an MVP award, and he was the league's highest point scorer. Sidney was the first-ever player to win all three of those awards. The following year, Sidney again earned the league's MVP for being the highest point scorer while also leading his team to a staggering 28-game undefeated streak.
Crosby transferred to Shattuck-Saint Mary's in Faribault, Minnesota, and went on to graduate from Harrison Trimble High School, in New Brunswick, Canada. He was a World Junior gold medalist and won the Michel Brière Memorial Trophy twice. He scored 192 goals in 178 games and played for the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Bottom Line: Sidney Crosby
Sidney Crosby was the youngest player ever to score in the World Junior Championships when he was 16 years old in 2004. It was at the next year's Junior Championships that he led Canada to win a gold medal, and he calls that feat, the most memorable moment while playing hockey.
He was selected by the Pittsburgh Penguins, is the first overall pick in the NHL in 2005, and he's become one of the game's all-time stars.
Chess may be a mental sport, but we still consider it noteworthy to make mention of it in our list. This is where Bobby Fischer comes in, a chess prodigy, at 14 years old, he became the youngest ever U.S. Chess Champion, and at 15 years old, he was both the youngest grandmaster up until then and the youngest candidate ever for the World Championship.
Bobby attended Erasmus Hall High School in Brooklyn, New York, but he dropped out of school, not because he wasn't smart enough, but Fischer's interest in chess became more important than schoolwork.
Bottom Line: Bobby Fischer
Fischer played in eight U.S. Championships, winning all of them. Bobby was considered to be the greatest chess player of all time.
Bobby Fischer made multiple lasting contributions to the world of chess. In the early 1990s, he patented a new chess time-system that combined a time increment after every move, which is now standard practice in top tournament and match play.
Coaches recruit most high school players, and from those players, the top-five guys are then recruited by the head coach. But Marcus Dupree was seen as such a hot commodity that Oklahoma beckoned their former Heisman winner and NFL player, Billy Sims, to recruit Dupree while he was in high school.
Dupree went on to break Herschel Walker's national high school record for most career touchdowns, that's how talented Marcus Dupree was while at Philadelphia High School in Mississippi. But Dupree peaked in high school; injuries hampered his college career. His key stats we 7,355 rushing yards. 87 total touchdowns. 8.3 yards per carry.
Bottom Line: Marcus Dupree
Even with all the setbacks and injuries, Marcus Dupree still managed to set a Fiesta Bowl record at 249 yards, a record that still stands today.
Marcus Dupree was the topic of an ESPN series "30 for 30" titled "The Best That Never Was," which elaborated on the fact that Dupree had all of the talents he needed to become a star athlete, but he couldn't translate them to success after high school.
Greg Paulus had quite an impressive senior year as he led his football team to a state title in the fall, and then in the spring, he averaged 26.8 points per game in basketball. Greg was selected as the Gatorade's National Football Player of the Year, and he was also named New York's 'Mr. Basketball.'
All this happened while he was at Christian Brothers Academy in DeWitt, New York. His key stats were: 23.5 PPG. 11,763 passing yards.
Bottom Line: Greg Paulus
To finish off his senior year, Greg Paulus had numerous football offers from the University of Miami and Notre Dame while fielding basketball offers from Duke and the University of North Carolina.
Sadly for Greg Paulus, his athletic career reached its peak in high school. Even though Greg played both sports in college, he was never considered an exceptional player and never made it to the pros.
Elena Delle Donne
Elena Delle Donne was considered as the top player in her high school class and for very good reason. Donne set the girls' national high school record by knocking down 80 straight free throws while at Ursuline Academy in Wilmington, Delaware. Donne was also picked as the national player of the year.
Elena was the three-time state champion in basketball; she was also the MVP of All-American Game.
Bottom Line: Elena Delle Donne
Elena Delle Donne was born and ready to become an exceptional athlete as she started working with a trainer early in her high school career. Elena initially enrolled at the University of Connecticut, but she dropped out two days later and enrolled at The University of Delaware.
Overall, Elena was the No. 2 pick by the Chicago Sky back in the 2013 WNBA draft and successfully led the Washington Mystics to a WNBA title last year in 2019.
Allen Iverson was always considered too small on the basketball court and was even more on the football field. He attended Bethel High School and Milburn Schools in Hampton, Virginia, but when he played sports, Allen was so much more than just another athlete, he did whatever he could to help the team.
Allen Iverson went on to pass for over 1,400 yards, running for over 700 yards, accounted for 29 touchdowns on offense, as well as intercepting eight passes. This all happened during his junior year, which culminated in a state championship.
Bottom Line: Allen Iverson
Allen Iverson then completed his junior year by winning a basketball state title just a few months later. We never saw him play as a senior since he was incarcerated for four months in a controversial assault case before being allowed clemency. Allen then finished his senior year at Milburn Schools, a school for at-risk students.
But this setback only made him stronger and more motivated to succeed, and he went on to star at Georgetown and become a Hall of Famer in the NBA.
Moses Malone bypassed college for the pros as he first went to the American Basketball Association after a standout high school career while he attended Petersburg High School in Virginia. His numbers look were unreal, and over 200 schools tried to recruit him.
As a senior, Malone averaged 36 points, 26 rebounds, and 12 blocks. He earned the title Mr. Basketball USA and became a two-time state champion. Back then, he was the first player to go from high school straight to the pros.
Bottom Line: Moses Malone
He led his high school to a winning season during his senior year – and his junior year progressed to state championships.
Once Malone reached the NBA, he played at the highest level, going on to win an NBA title with the Philadelphia 76ers in his Hall of Fame career.
Alex Rodriguez was not only the star on the baseball team but also the star on his football team. Alex was even recruited to play football by the University of Miami, but Rodriguez's heart was only beating for baseball. He hit .505 as a senior and stole 90 bases in 100 career games.
He attended Westminster Christian High School in Palmetto Bay, Florida. Alex was named Gatorade's national student-athlete of the year.
Bottom Line: Alex Rodriguez
Rodriguez turned down baseball scholarships from the University of Miami. In the end, he never played college baseball, instead, he chose to sign with the Seattle Mariners after being selected in their first round of the 1993 draft at the age of seventeen.
Alex was also the first overall draft pick in the 1993 Major League Baseball draft, and for a good reason, he put up huge numbers in the majors, hitting 696 career home runs with 3,115 hits over 22 seasons.
Danny Goodwin may not be a household name, but he does hold the distinction of being the only player ever to be selected in the first overall draft in Major League Baseball twice. Danny was the first pick straight out of high school in 1971 by the Chicago White Sox, but he instead chose to go to college at Southern University and A&M in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
Then in 197, Danny was then was the first overall pick again of the California Angels. As a catcher in high school, he hit over .425 every season while also smacking nine home runs over his career.
Bottom Line: Danny Goodwin
Although Danny had success in college, his prep career far surpassed his pro career, probably because he was a designated hitter who didn't actually hit that well.
Danny's nine high school home runs were just four less than the 13 home runs he hit while in the majors.
Trevor Lawrence was described by his rivals as a more athletic Peyton Manning and with a better arm since coming out of high school. Trevor Lawrence's physical talents were in full view while attending Cartersville High School in Georgia. Trevor broke Deshaun Watson's high school state record for most passing yards and passing touchdowns.
Trevor was all-state in each of his last three seasons, and his freshman season wasn't too bad either as he threw for over 3,000 yards and 26 touchdowns compared to seven interceptions.
Bottom Line: Trevor Lawrence
Trevor Lawrence was a five-star recruit who was rated as one of the best high school quarterback potentials of all time.
Lawrence's success continued well into college as he led Clemson University to a national championship in 2018, and he became the first freshman quarterback to start for a national champion team since Jamelle Holieway at Oklahoma in 1985.
While Bruce Hardy was a senior in high school senior, he was featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated with the title, "Best Schoolboy Athlete." His high school career supports up that title as he won three MVP awards for both football and basketball. As a senior, Bruce led the team in interceptions while playing safety and also threw for 20 touchdowns.
Bruce Hardy attended Bingham High School in South Jordan, Utah, and he was a three-sport star athlete. Hardy went on to spend his entire NFL career playing for the Miami Dolphins from 1978-1989.
Bottom Line: Bruce Hardy
Bruce Hardy averaged 21.6 points per football game as the team won the state championship. On the diamond, Bruce Hardy played five different positions and hit .480 while also playing both pitcher and catcher.
Bruce Hardy shifted to tight end in college at Arizona State and was drafted in the ninth round, 247th overall.
Simone Biles first tried gymnastics at six years old as part of a day-care field trip, and she was homeschooled from eighth grade onwards so that she wouldn't have any restrictions when it came to practice and training. This decision worked well for her as she has become what we now consider the greatest gymnast who ever lived.
Her exceptional performance at the Summer Olympics in 2016 came a year after she graduated, and she still accomplished so much while still in school. Simone made her junior debut as a 14-year-old in 2011 and her senior debut two years later.
Bottom Line: Simone Biles
Simone Biles made first place, winning two gold medals at the world championships 2013, and then she won four more at the 2014 world championships. She earned nine world championship medals before graduating high school placed her second all-time amongst American gymnasts.
Since then, Simone has become the most decorated gymnast – regardless of nationality – with 25 world championship medals.
Back in 1966, Rick Mount appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated when he was 19 years old, under the headline of "Brightest Star in High School Basketball." As the first high school athlete to get that honor, he was compared to both Oscar Robertson and Jerry West.
Rick Mount scored in double figures during his entire high school career, and with the legendary UCLA coach John Wooden traveling all the way back to Indiana so that he can recruit Mount.
Bottom Line: Rick Mount
Rick mount attended Lebanon High School in Indiana. He had a total of 2,595 points in his career, 33.1 PPG in both junior and senior years. He was also named "Indiana Mr. Basketball."
He stayed close to home and attended Purdue University, where he was an All-American before having a distinguished ABA career but never playing in the NBA.
Lisa Leslie received over 100 letters from recruits, even before she started high school, this was due to her ability in the eighth grade to play on the boys' basketball team. By the time high school started, she was a varsity starter as a freshman and a state champion as a senior. Leslie was averaging 27 points and 15 rebounds during her last year of high school.
Attending Morningside High School in Inglewood, California, Lisa had a lot of potential; she was also a state champion in the high jump and triple jump.
Bottom Line: Lisa Leslie
She was so good that her coach often pulled her at halftime, so Morningside wouldn't humiliate their opponents, keeping the next year in mind when Lisa Leslie would no longer be on the team.
Lisa went on to star in the University of Southern California and eventually with the Los Angeles Sparks in the WNBA. In 2015, she was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame.
Whoever said that pitchers aren't good athletes? Well, CC Sabathia proved them wrong as he was a three-sport star in high school, including pitching and hitting for the baseball team. As a senior, CC Sabathia posted a 0.77 ERA while also batting .563 with ten home runs in 80 at-bats.
Sabathia was a natural on the basketball court, at 6 feet, 6 inches, but he also loved football. He was playing tight end and also lined up on the defensive line and even received a college football scholarship offer from UCLA.
Bottom Line: CC Sabathia
From Vallejo High School in California, CC Sabathia signed a letter of intent to the University of Hawaii to play both football and baseball. However, Sabathia chose to forego college and instead signed with the Cleveland Indians after being drafted in their first-round by the Indians in the 1998 Major League Baseball draft.
He won 251 games over 19 major league seasons and posted a 3.74 earned running average.
Ed "Too Tall" Jones
Ed "Too Tall" Jones' only played in three games during his senior year as his high school didn't have a football team until then. But he did manage to make a name for himself in several other sports, and his 6 feet, 9 inches drew attention from both college basketball programs and the Major League Baseball scouts.
Although his favorite sport was boxing, and in one Golden Gloves match, he knocked his opponent out in under a minute.
Bottom Line: Ed "Too Tall" Jones
Hailing from Jackson, Tennessee, Jones attended Jackson Central High School. Jones quit boxing for a short while, only to resume it again in the middle of his NFL career, retiring in 1979 to pursue a professional boxing career.
The next year, Jones returned to the NFL in 1980 and finished his pro football career in 1989 with 57.5 sacks.
Jadeveon Clowney played as a sophomore on a high school team that featured Stephon Gilmore, who would be the future NFL Defensive Player of the Year. But Clowney was still considered the best player on the team.
Once the games started at South Pointe High School, Clowney would wreak havoc on the opposing team's offense as well as defense side as he could play both ways. Clowney had over 55 sacks in his last two years while also rushing for nine touchdowns as a senior.
Bottom Line: Jadeveon Clowney
Jadeveon Clowney almost matched that touchdown total while playing on defense as he managed to score eight from that point in his career through fumble returns and interceptions.
He continues his football career at the University of South Carolina, and Clowney was the No. 1 overall pick for the Houston Texans in the 2014 NFL draft.
Wilfred Benitez had a more unusual nickname of "The Radar," and it came because of his ability to foresee what his opponents would do.
His boxing career started at the Julio Vizcarrondo Coronado Public school in Caroline, Puerto Rico, and he became the youngest world champion in boxing history at that point.
Bottom Line: Wilfred Benitez
With his incredible radar, Benitez was able to get a split-second decision victory over WBA lightweight Champion Antonio Cervantes in 1976. This was what led him to become the youngest undefeated boxer in the sport's history.
This victory happened when Benitez was just a senior in high school, and at 17 years old, many of his classmates were watching in the crowd for that special night in Puerto Rico.
Michael Phelps set the national record for his age group in 2000 when he was just 13, and that eventually helped him qualify for the Olympics. He was just 15 years old when he participated as the youngest American swimmer for the games in 68 years! Michael placed fifth in the 200-meter butterfly, which is still an amazing feat for a teenager.
This only proved to be a start for the amazing swimmer, as the next year, he broke the world record for his 200-meter butterfly, which meant he was the youngest male to set a world record in the world of swimming!
Bottom Line: Michael Phelps
Phelps attended Towson High School in Maryland, and his success only continued as he grew older. Phelps went on to break his own world record only a few weeks later and won his first world championship at just 16 years old.
Phelps finished his swimming career as the most decorated Olympian with a staggering 28 medals, now that is impressive!
Earvin Johnson quite literally became Magic Johnson in high school, as he notched a 36-16-16 triple-double as a sophomore in high school, a local sportswriter dubbed Johnson "Magic," and the name has stuck ever since.
Seeing as his mother was a devout Christian, she thought his nickname was sacrilegious, but he assured her that it was only with good intentions, and Magic replaced Johnson's previous nickname of Earv.
Bottom Line: Magic Johnson
As a senior in high school, Magic Johnson went on to win a state championship and went on to earn a college championship as a sophomore while attending Michigan State. While a rookie with the Los Angeles Lakers, he also won an NBA championship in 1980.
Overall, that meant he had three championships at three different levels over four years! In the 1980s, Magic Johnson won four titles with the Lakers and was enshrined in the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2002.