Michael Jordan: High School Career

Michael Jordan attended Laney High School in Wilmington, North Carolina. High School is where Michael Jordan’s journey to stardom began, but the beginning of his high school career got off to a rocky start. As a high school sophomore, he was cut from the varsity basketball team, and instead his 6’7’’ friend Leroy Smith made the team. The head coach of the varsity team, Fred Lynch, decided that the team needed Leroy Smith’s size, and thought Michael at 5’ 10’’ was too short and needed to develop his skills in order to be a reliable contributor to the varsity team. Michael had no choice but to play on the junior varsity team, which greatly frustrated him, because he felt like he was good enough to make the varsity team. ‘’It was embarrassing not making that team,” Jordan said. “They posted the roster and it was there for a long, long time without my name on it. I remember being really mad, too, because there was a guy who made it that really wasn’t as good as me.”

Jordan used the rejection as a source of motivation to prove to the coaches and himself that he was a good player. While playing on the junior varsity team, he excelled, scoring 40 points in games multiple times during the season.  However, despite the great performances he achieved while playing for the junior varsity team, the head coach still decided not to move Michael to the varsity team. Michael Jordan, determined to make the varsity team next year, worked extremely hard over the summer to improve his skills. He came back the following year, in his junior year, a different player. Not only did he improve his skills, but he also grew in height. Growing five inches over the summer, from 5’10’’ to 6’3’’.

His great work ethic led to Michael making the varsity team his junior year and instantly becoming their best player. He scored 35 points in his first varsity game and averaged a team leading 20 points per game. His impressive and stellar play for the varsity team during his junior year led to him being invited to Howard Garfinkel’s Five-Star Basketball Camp. At the camp, he dazzled college scouts while playing head-to-head against the other top high school players in the country. The Five-Star Basketball Camp was also where North Carolina head coach Dean Smith first noticed the talented and skilled Michael Jordan. He was so impressed with Michael’s skills, that he decided to target him as a priority recruit and signed him to be a future North Carolina Tar Heel before Jordan’s senior season began.

Michael Jordan had a spectacular senior season playing for the Laney High School varsity basketball team. He led Laney to the No. 1 state ranking, while averaging a triple double (29.2 points, 11.6 rebounds, and 10.1 assists). He wasn’t able to lead his team to a state title, with his team losing to their rival New Hanover in the conference championship game, 56-52. But because he had a great senior season, he was rewarded with the opportunity to play in the 1981 McDonald’s High School All-American Basketball Game.

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