(Originally Published on August 17, 2014)
Before Kobe Bryant was wearing purple and gold, the son of Joe “Jellybean” Bryant was lighting up the scoreboards at Lower Merion High School in Philadelphia. Kobe was as talented a player as they come with everyone knowing he had a bright future ahead on the NBA level.
During his four years at Lower Merion, Kobe was considered one of the best high school players in the country. Although he showed promise in his first two years, it wasn’t until his junior year in 1995 that he started to come into his own averaging 31.1 points, 10.4 rebounds, and 5.4 assists per game.
The rare footage above is from Kobe’s junior year at Lower Merion when he bounced back from a poor first-half performance against Norristown. Kobe scored an impressive 29 points in the second half to lead Lower Merion to victory.
After a breakout season in his junior year and leading his school to a state championship in his senior year, Kobe emerged as a legitimate candidate to become a high draft pick in the 1996 NBA draft if he chose to skip college.
Ultimately, Kobe decided to make the jump to the NBA and was drafted alongside many other talented players that would go on to have great careers on the next level. Allen Iverson, Ray Allen, Steve Nash, Marcus Camby, Antonie Walker, Stephon Marbury, Peja Stojakovic, Jermaine O’Neal, and Derek Fisher were also in Kobe’s draft class.
The Los Angeles Lakers made a game-changing trade with the Charlotte Hornets in 1996 to acquire the rights to rookie Kobe Bryant. The move turned out to change the franchise forever with Bryant leading the team to five NBA titles while becoming one of the greatest players of all time.