Before Sunday night’s 114-99 loss against the Lakers, Pistons head coach Mo Cheeks shared his memories about Kobe Bryant, the high schooler. During the mid 90’s, Cheeks was an assistant coach for the 76ers and Bryant was invited to scrimmage against Philadelphia and go against Jerry Stackhouse.
It’s been nearly two decades and Cheeks shared that while he thought Kobe was good, he didn’t know Kobe was going to be as good as he turned out to be via ESPN LA’s Dave McMenamin:
“I just remember him in high school. I remember him playing. I think he played against (Jerry) Stackhouse, I think. I vaguely remember it. He was good. I didn’t know he was going to be as good as he’s turned out to be, but I knew he was a very good player.”
Despite only being a teenager, Bryant was just as competitive and went head-to-head with Jerry Stackhouse:
“He was very, very competitive and obviously, you can’t do that now, but then you could play pros against high school guys and he competed at a high level and he competed at a high level and was very good at the time. I don’t know who was better (between him and Stackhouse) at the time, but he competed at a high level.”
During his junior year, Bryant averaged 31.1 points, 10.4 rebounds, and 5.2 assists and was named Pennsylvania Player of the Year. At the time, Kobe became the first guard to come straight out of high school and would influence players like Tracy McGrady and LeBron James to follow his lead.
In his pre-draft workouts, Bryant played extremely well against current NBA players and impressed Jerry West enough to trade Vlade Divac for him. While Bryant struggled his rookie season, he was able to establish himself in the NBA the following season.
Mike D’Antoni on Issues Of Not Having Kobe Down The Stretch