High-SchoolBoys-Basketball: Xavier Johnson


Huntington Prep (Huntington, W.V.) senior forward Elijah Macon will always be grateful for his mom setting him up with his first true love: Basketball.

A die-hard Shaquille O' Neal fan, Renai Payne would tune into the Lake Show whenever the Lakers played on national television and often, little Elijah would park himself on the couch with her to ingest all the action. He quickly grew a fondness for the sport, taking a liking to Kobe Bryant's hunger for success and propensity for clutch plays.

"He was more of my generation than Michael Jordan was," says Macon of Bryant. "I just watched him hit buzzer-beaters and win all those championships. That was my generation of basketball, and he was my idol. That was in middle school, when I really started to love the game of basketball."

Now rated the No. 42 player in the ESPNU 100, Macon's love has intensified significantly over the years — to the point that he now can't live without the sphere.

"I love it. It's gotten me noticed as one of the top players in the country," Macon says.

So what does an elite hoop prospect do on Valentine's Day for the game he loves? Bouquet of flowers? Box of chocolate?

Nah. More basketball, duh.

"If I was to get a Valentine's Day gift for basketball, I'd take it out to eat then to see Kobe play," laughs Macon.

Macon isn't the only hoop recruit looking to profess his love today. We caught up with several of the nation's top players to see why they love this game.

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