It’s one of those little-known things about Seattle that never makes the tourism brochures: We have some of the best high-school basketball in the country.
The 14 high schools that make up Seattle’s Metro League have more alumni playing in the NBA than New York City’s high schools—all 799 of them. More than all the high schools in Dallas, Houston, and Philadelphia, too.
Shall we discuss what socioeconomic and cultural forces sowed the seeds of Seattle’s NBA fecundity? . . . Good, that stuff bores me too. I’d rather just go to a game.
I see a high-school game almost every Tuesday during hoops season. I’ve gotten to scout future NBA players like Spencer Hawes and Peyton Siva from courtside seats that cost me seven bucks. You can’t beat that for value.
Rainier Beach High School drives Seattle’s dominance. Beach—with an enrollment that hovers around 500—is to hoops what McKinley High is to glee club. NBAers Nate Robinson and Jamal Crawford both went to Beach. Head coach Mike Bethea’s latest NBA prospect is 6´7˝ wing Shaqquan Aaron. Rated the 27th-best high-school senior in the country by Rivals.com, Aaron is pledged to play for Rick Pitino at the University of Louisville next season.
Franklin and Seattle Prep also both have alums in the NBA. And O’Dea is coached by two former Sonics, head man Al Hairston and assistant Steve Hawes. Lakeside is on the rise; they finished second in the state last year, and get major support from the owner of the Portland Trailblazers—the Paul G. Allen Athletics Center opens this fall.
I love Seattle high-school hoops not just for how good the competition is, but for the fact that every game is a window into the city. O’Dea—an all-boys Catholic school—plays in a tiny, musty gym festooned with championship banners. It wouldn’t look out of place as a location for Hoosiers. Rainier Beach games are a community event; the coaches dress to the nines. Seattle Prep’s student section is a miniature version of Duke’s Cameron Crazies, with face painting and chants of “AIIIIR-BALLLLL” usually part of the show.
Boys’ games are played Tuesdays at 7:30 p.m. and Friday at 8 p.m. I’ve taken the liberty of suggesting what I think is the best Metro League game for each Tuesday of the season. Maybe I’ll see you there.
Dec. 3: Lakeside @ O’Dea
Dec. 10: Rainier Beach @ Ingraham
Dec. 17: Chief Sealth @ Rainier Beach
Jan. 7: Franklin @ O’Dea
Jan. 14: O’Dea @ Chief Sealth
Jan. 21: Beach @ Lakeside
Jan. 28: Chief Sealth @ West Seattle
Feb. 4: Franklin @ Seattle Prep