The release of Jay Bilas’ new book, “Toughness,” got me thinking about the toughest high school basketball players I’ve ever seen. To me, toughness encompasses so many different aspects of the game of basketball.
Stephen Curry was physically weak but mentally tough. Erick Barkley talked tough and backed it up. Leon Powe overcame countless knee injuries and his playing style didn’t change. Bill Walker was the personal protector for O.J. Mayo and would erupt for dunks and then go find someone to defend on the other end. Darius Songaila fouled for fun. T.J. Ford got in your grill and then dared you to catch him. In their own ways, whether physical or mental, these guys exuded toughness as high school players.
It wasn’t easy to comprise a list of the toughest high school basketball players I’ve seen. Heck, defining toughness isn’t easy, but you know it when you see it over and over. So in my 16 years on the job, these are the 10 toughest hombres I’ve witnessed. My list doesn’t take into account what they did in college or beyond, merely what I watched from the stands while these players were in high school.