Sports Reference Blog

High School Hoops All-Americans Added Back to 1949

Posted by Mike Lynch on February 14, 2019

In college basketball the talent spread across teams has always been very disparate. This makes recruiting arguably the most important aspect of college basketball (ahead of even coaching). For the more modern era of the game, we have compiled Recruiting Services Consensus Index Rankings back to 1998. That is a compilation of the top 100 recruits in any given class.

But aside from noting McDonald's All-Americans, we had little to no info on the top recruits from older seasons. So we're happy to announce that we've now compiled information on High School Basketball All-Americans all the way back to 1949!

The largest chunk of this data is the addition of Parade All-America teams. These teams were named every year from 1957 to 2015.

Here's some notes on the evolution of how the team was constituted:

  • The inaugural team consisted of three teams, five players on each team.
  • In 1958, a fourth five-man team was added.
  • That format remained in place until 1963, when a fifth five-man team was added.
  • In 1966, a sixth five-man unit was added.
  • In 1967, the list went back down to five five-man teams.
  • In 1970, the list once again expanded to six five-man teams.
  • In 1971, the list again expanded, this time to seven five-man units.
  • In 1972 it was changed to three 10-man teams. So for the first time there were ten 1st-team All Americans, for instance.
  • In 1973, a fourth 10-man team was added.
  • A Player of the Year was identified from 1970-74, 1976-77 and from 1981-2015. The Player of the Year Award was often shared.
  • Beginning in 2011, only seniors were considered for the team and many of the names on the list began to be players experts would not consider high-major prospects.
  • The changes continued in 2012, when the list went to a single-team format with 40 players.
  • In 2014, the list was trimmed to 20 players.
  • It returned to 30 players in 2015, the final year of the Parade High School All-American team.

Some interesting notes on the history of the list:

  • Les Cason is the only freshman to ever be named to one of the teams. The big man from East Rutherford High School (NJ) was named to the 5th team in 1968. Cason would miss the team his sophomore year, but return to the 3rd team in his junior year and 1st team in his senior year. His high school coach was Dick Vitale. Cason had an unspectacular career at Rutgers (where Vitale was assistant) and died from complications from AIDS at age 43 in 1997.
  • Only two sophomores were ever named to the 1st team: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (then known as Lew Alcindor) and Earl Jones (who dominated Patrick Ewing in high school, but decided to play at D-II University of the District of Columbia). Coincidentally, Abdul-Jabbar and Jones would eventually briefly be teammates on the 1984-85 Lakers (playing substantially different roles).
  • Only three players were named Player of the Year before their senior seasons: Randy Livingston, LeBron James and Greg Oden. While two of those players (Livingston & Oden) had their careers ravaged by chronic injuries, James has gone on to have a pretty solid career. Livingston twice was a co-winner (once with Jason Kidd and once with Rasheed Wallace), while Oden shared one of his two with Monta Ellis. This means that King James is the only player to twice be named solo Parade Player of the Year.
  • The following Parade Players of the Year have made it to the Basketball Hall of Fame: Magic Johnson, Patrick Ewing, Jason Kidd. It's a safe bet that they will one day be joined by Kobe Bryant and LeBron James (and perhaps Kevin Love and Chris Webber).
  • You probably associate Bill Raftery with his legendary color work on college basketball broadcasts, but once upon a time he was a serious player. He was a first-team Parade All-American in 1959 before struggling with injuries for much of his three years at La Salle.

You'll notice that there's an additional tab on the High School All American's page, which will take you to a list of Chuck Taylor All-Americans from 1949 to 1956. Taylor organized the North-South All Star games, which were held in Kentucky. The Chuck Taylor All-America team was picked from the most outstanding performers in the game. The top player was named Mr. Basketball. It should be noted that these games featured many of the top performers in high school at the time, but that top African-American players like Oscar Robertson, Elgin Baylor and Wilt Chamberlain were conspicuously absent.

We hope you enjoy this new addition to the site. Please let us know if you have any questions, comments or concerns.

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