Iverson, Worthy among best high school players

Iverson, Worthy headline Best Ballers Nos. 50-26

Updated: April 3, 2009, 4:56 PM ET
ESPNRISE.com

This week, ESPN RISE is taking 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.

O.J. Mayo
Scott Kurtz O.J. Mayo earned all-state honors during prep career in Kentucky, Ohio and West Virginia.

50. Chris Bosh Lincoln/Dallas (34 pts.)
In 2002, Bosh led Lincoln to a 40-0 record and the final No. 1 ranking in the FAB 50. He has become a perennial NBA All-Star with the Toronto Raptors. Check out Bosh in high school.

49. Greg Oden Lawrence North/Indianapolis (40 pts.)
He's the Bill Russell of the Hoosier State; Oden's dominating presence in the middle sparked Lawrence North to three straight state titles. Oden, who also led his team to an unbeaten record and No. 1 ranking in the final FAB 50 in 2006, was the No. 1 pick in the 2007 NBA draft after playing one season at Ohio State. Check out Oden in high school.

48. Larry Johnson Skyline/Dallas (40 pts.)
Grand-ma-ma was more than grand in high school as he was the national player of the year. Johnson later won top honors as a college player at UNLV and then became an All-Star in the NBA, mostly with the Charlotte Hornets.

47. O.J. Mayo Huntington, W.Va. (47 pts.)
Unique talent earned all-state honors during prep career in Kentucky, Ohio and West Virginia and led teams to state titles in Ohio and West Virginia. Mayo averaged 28.2 points and 7.2 assists as a senior at Huntington, which was No. 3 in the final FAB 50 national rankings. He now plays for the Memphis Grizzlies. Check out Mayo in high school.

46. Quinn Buckner Thornridge, Dolton, Ill. (48 pts.)
He was the linchpin of Thornridge teams that won back-to-back state titles and lost only one game in two years. Buckner also has the distinction of being one of only three players (the others are Magic Johnson and Jerry Lucas) to win titles at every level: high school, college, the Olympics and the NBA.

Just Missed The Cut

Narrowing the Best Ballers to 50 players was no easy task. Here's a list of players who also received votes (in alphabetical order):

Mark Aguirre (Westinghouse, Chicago)
Nate Archibald (DeWitt Clinton/Bronx, N.Y.)
Elgin Baylor (Spingarn/Washington, D.C.)
Dave Bing (Spingarn/Washington, D.C.)
Kelly Coleman (Wayland, Ky.)
Bob Cousy (Andrew Jackson/Queens, N.Y.)
Billy Cunningham (Erasmus Hall/Brooklyn, N.Y.)
Darryl Dawkins (Evans/Orlando, Fla.)
Dave DeBusschere (Austin Catholic/Detroit)
Monta Ellis (Lanier, Jackson, Miss.)
"Penny" Hardaway (Treadwell/Memphis, Tenn.)
Kevin Love (Lake Oswego, Ore.)
Tom McMillen (Mansfield, Pa.)
Stephon Marbury (Lincoln/Brooklyn, N.Y.)
George McGinnis (Washington/Indianapolis)
Kevin McHale (Hibbing, Minn.)
Earl Monroe (Bartram/Philadelphia)
Chris Paul (West Forsyth/Clemmons, N.C.)
Bob Pettit (Baton Rouge, La.)
Paul Pierce (Inglewood, Calif.)
Jerry Stackhouse (Oak Hill/Mouth of Wilson, Va.)
Amare Stoudemire (Cypress Creek/Orlando, Fla.)

45. Mike Bibby Shadow Mountain/Phoenix (49 pts.)
There isn't much debate that Bibby is still the best player ever from Arizona. He scored more than 3,000 points in his four years of high school and led Shadow Mountain to three straight state titles. He later led Arizona to an NCAA title and nearly did the same one year in the NBA with the Sacramento Kings.

44. Sebastian Telfair Lincoln/Brooklyn, N.Y. (57 pts.)
With 33.2 ppg as a senior, Telfair broke the New York state career scoring record previously held by Kenny Anderson. He also led Lincoln to three straight New York public league titles and one state title. He was picked 13th in the first round of the 2004 NBA draft by the Portland Trail Blazers. Check out Telfair in high school.

43. Spencer Haywood Pershing/Detroit (70 pts.)
One year after leading Pershing to the 1967 state title, Haywood was the leading scorer for the gold medal-winning U.S. team at the 1968 Olympics. He later averaged 30 points and 19.5 rebounds in one season in the ABA and was an NBA All-Star four times.

42. Bill Bradley Crystal City, Mo. (76 pts.)
He scored more than 3,000 points in high school and was a two-time All-American. Bradley was a three-time All-American at Princeton and scored 58 points in an NCAA tourney game. He was part of two NBA title teams for the Knicks and later became a U.S. senator.

41. Allen Iverson Bethel/Hampton, Va. (78 pts.)
Despite not playing basketball as a senior, Iverson is still one of the best high school athletes ever from Virginia. He led his school to state titles in both football and basketball as a junior and during the ensuing summer was hailed as the nation's top point guard. So far in his NBA career, Iverson is averaging more than 27 ppg and in 2000-01 was the league's Most Valuable Player.

40. Dwight Howard Southwest Atlanta Christian Academy, Ga. (78 pts.)
As a senior, Howard led his high school to a state title with monster averages of 25 points, 18 rebounds, eight blocks and three assists per game. He was the top pick in the 2004 NBA draft, and so far in five NBA seasons is averaging 18 points and 15.5 rebounds per game. Check out Howard in high school.

39. Carmelo Anthony Oak Hill Academy, Mouth of Wilson, Va. (80 pts.)
Dynamic player was the nation's top senior in 2002, but wasn't the national player of the year because LeBron James was a junior. Anthony then led Syracuse to the NCAA title the following season and currently stars for the Denver Nuggets in the NBA.

38. Connie Hawkins Boys & Girls/Brooklyn, N.Y. (82 pts.)
After not playing much at Boys High until his junior year, Hawkins was All-City first team as a junior for an unbeaten team. He averaged 25.5 ppg as a senior in 1959, including one outburst of 60 points. He's still regarded as one of the best players ever from New York despite a shortened NBA career.

[+] EnlargeCarmelo Anthony
ESPN RISE Carmelo Anthony was the best senior in 2002 -- but he was overshadowed by then-junior LeBron James.

37. Vince Carter Mainland/Daytona Beach, Fla. (90 pts.)
He's the best player ever from Florida. When Vince wasn't throwing down nearly 30 ppg in basketball, he also was drum major for the marching band. Carter has become one of the NBA's best high fliers in the last 20 years, currently with the New Jersey Nets.

36. David Thompson Crest/Shelby, N.C. (90 pts.)
As much or even more of a prep legend in the Tar Heel State than Michael Jordan, Thompson is more known for college exploits, which include leading N.C. State to the 1974 NCAA title. He is the only player to be MVP of both the ABA and NBA All-Star games.

35. James Worthy Ashbrook/Gastonia, N.C. (91 pts.)
One of the Top 50 NBA Players of All Time, "Big Game James" was a seven-time NBA All-Star and three-time NBA champion. Worthy was an All-American in high school who knocked down 21.5 points and pulled down 12.5 rebounds per game during his senior season for a team that lost in the state finals.

34. Bill Cartwright Elk Grove, Calif. (93 pts.)
The player of the year in California twice (in 1974 and 1975), he averaged 29.2 points and 18.1 rebounds in his career, including 38.7 ppg as a senior. He later became a college All-American at USF and was a 20 ppg scorer in the NBA for the New York Knicks. Cartwright also was the starting center for three of the Chicago Bulls' world championship teams.

33. Tracy McGrady Mt. Zion Academy/Durham, N.C. (98 pts.)
After playing three years at Auburndale High in Florida, T-Mac transferred to Mt. Zion Christian Academy in Durham, N.C. He led Mt. Zion to a memorable title at the Las Vegas Holiday Classic over a team led by Lamar Odom. McGrady was the 1997 national player of the year and was picked ninth in the first round of the NBA draft by the Toronto Raptors.

32. Bernard King Fort Hamilton/Brooklyn, N.Y. (100 pts.)
A prep legend in Brooklyn, King was a two-time All-American who became a prolific scorer in the NBA. King's per-game NBA scoring average of 22.5 for his career is one of the top 25 totals all-time.

31. Rasheed Wallace Simon Gratz/Philadelphia, Pa. (106 pts.)
A two-time Parade Magazine first team All-American, Wallace also was MVP at the Magic Johnson Roundball Classic after scoring 30 points. He started his 16th season in the NBA averaging 15.2 points per game.

Bill Cartwright
CalHiSports.com Bill Cartwright earned player of the year honors California twice (in 1974 and 1975).

30. Calvin Murphy Norwalk, Conn. (127 pts.)
One report during Calvin's senior year in high school claimed that he was offered scholarships by more than 300 colleges. He later averaged 33 ppg at Niagara University and became an NBA Hall of Famer in 1987. Murphy once made 95.8 percent of his free throws for an entire season.

29. Dan Issel Batavia, Ill. (147 pts.)
Two-time all-state and Parade Magazine All-American went on to average 33.8 ppg at Kentucky. He wrapped up his ABA and NBA career with more than 27,000 points and was voted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1993.

28. Reggie Miller Poly/Riverside, Calif. (157 pts.)
He came along at Riverside Poly one year after older sister Cheryl, and as a senior was regarded by many as the top player in southern California. He averaged 25 ppg as a junior and senior in 1981 and 1982. Miller ended his career as one of the top 10 scorers in NBA history and is still No. 1 for most 3-pointers made in a career.

27. Wes Unseld Seneca/Louisville, Ky. (158 pts.)
The powerful Unseld led his high school to two state titles and starred later at Louisville. He's regarded as one of the best rebounders ever and was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1988.

26. Elvin Hayes Britton/Rayville, La. (165 pts.)
The Big E pumped in 30 points and 20 rebounds as a multiple all-state honoree in high school. At the University of Houston, he set the NCAA tourney scoring record and then was a perennial NBA All-Star.

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