Frustrated James Tried To Forego His Last Year of High School

Published on July 2nd, 2023 3:11 pm EST
Written By: Dave Manuel

Lebron James made the most of his senior year in high school. In March of 2002, LeBron James had had enough of high school basketball.

After James' team, St. Vincent-St. Mary, lost to Cincinnati Roger Bacon 71-63 in the Division II state boys' basketball final, James decided that he wanted to go to the NBA.

The problem?

LeBron James was still a junior in high school, and wasn't yet eligible to be drafted.

Not to be deterred, LeBron lobbied NBA Commissioner David Stern to allow the young star to enter the league a year early.

David Stern had a one-word response for LeBron:



At the end of his 2002 year at St. Vincent-St. Mary, LeBron was frustrated.

Not only did his team lose in the finals, but LeBron was also reportedly choked that he didn't win High School Player of the Year.

If LeBron HAD been allowed to enter the 2002 NBA Draft, what would have happened?

Here is what Danny Ainge had to say about LeBron at the time:

"..if LeBron came out this year, I wouldn't even have to think about it. I'd take him No. 1."

The Houston Rockets had the #1 pick in 2002, and ended up taking Yao Ming first overall.

Would they have taken LeBron with the first overall pick? It's hard to say - the Rockets had a definite need for Yao, as they were trying to compete with Shaq and the Los Angeles Lakers, who had just won their third title in a row.

If the Rockets didn't take LeBron, the Bulls would have been next up.

Instead of taking Jay Williams, there is almost no doubt that they would have taken LeBron James with the second overall pick, or at least traded his rights away for an absolute haul.

Of course, if LeBron had been drafted in 2002, the Cavaliers wouldn't have taken him in 2003, and the history of their franchise would have been much different.


LeBron was forced to stay in high school for another year and absolutely made the most of it, leading St. Vincent-St. Mary to a title, while also winning High School Player of the Year.

LeBron was taken first overall by the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2003 NBA Draft, and he has lived up to all of his tremendous hype.

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