07.20.20 | Newsletter
Replaying LeBron’s career at St. Vincent-St. Mary
One of the star team attractions in this year’s Culligan City of Palms Classic is St. Vincent-St. Mary High School. About 18 years ago, the Akron-based Catholic school skyrocketed to the top of the basketball world because of one player – LeBron James.
We thought it would be fun to look back at his high school career, specifically two games against national powerhouse Oak Hill Academy, his rise to the cover of Sports Illustrated, to the top pick in the 2003 NBA draft and one of the best players the world has ever seen.
If you do a search under LeBron and St. Vincent-St. Mary, you will come across footage of LeBron’s jaw-dropping performance against then national No. 1 Oak Hill Academy in December 2002. His dunks, long-range jumpers and slight-of-hand passing had the 10,000 in attendance in Cleveland screaming and pounding on the seats. The game was televised live on ESPN and billed as “LeBron Mania Goes National.”
ESPN announcer Dick Vitale described LeBron as a “runaway freight train” and the best high school player in years finished with 31 points, 13 rebounds and six assists as St. Vincent-St. Mary upset Oak Hill Academy, 65-45.
Earlier that year, St. Vincent-St. Mary and Oak Hill played in Trenton, N.J. before 11,000 fans. This time, Oak Hill was stacked with the talents of Carmelo Anthony and they came out on top, 72-66. LeBron had 36 points and Carmelo 34. LeBron went on to average 30.4 points, 9.7 rebounds and 5.9 assists his senior season and was named Ohio’s Mr. Basketball.
The 2003 NBA was one to behold with LeBron going No. 1 and Carmelo No. 3. The rest – as they say – is history.
LeBron’s mega stature as a high schooler drew the national attention of Sports Illustrated, which featured him on the cover for the Feb. 10, 2002 issue with the headline “The Chosen One.” The cover shot featured LeBron in his No. 23 St. Vincent-St. Mary Irish jersey. Years later, that jersey sold at auction for $187,500.
That jersey would probably sell for more now when you consider his Hall of Fame resume of three NBA titles, four NBA MVPs and 15 all-star selections.
LeBron also gives back to his former high school. In May 2013, he donated $1 million to the school to renovate the basketball arena, including new floor, scoreboard, locker rooms and bleachers. The name of the house that James literally and figuratively built is LeBron James Arena.