Michael Jordan is best known for his gaudy scoring abilities, aeriel acrobatics and otherworldly accomplishments at the NBA level, but what was Jordan’s game like when he was 15 years old?
Even the most casual of basketball fans are interested in Jordan’s high school years — particularly his stats and accomplishments.
Most know about Jordan failing to make his Laney High School varsity team during his Sophomore year; however, when MJ grew six inches that same year, he would go on to star at the varsity level in his junior and senior season before signing to play at the University of North Carolina for his college years.
We’ve summarized the highlights of Jordan’s high school play below, and if you see that we’ve missed something, please leave us a note in the comments section of the article below.
Was Michael Jordan Cut from the Laney High School Varsity Team?
During the fall of 1978, Michael Jordan was a sophomore at Laney High School located in Wilmington, North Carolina. After tryouts, Jordan wasn’t selected for the varsity team and the infamous legend about Michael Jordan being cut is only the surface of the story.
Yes, , Jordan played for the Junior Varsity team his Sophomore year but the other side of the story was that Jordan was a only 5-foot 10-inches tall at the time and couldn’t dunk the ball. Additionally, there were other factors to Jordan not making the team that year; Laney had 11 seniors and three juniors returning to the varsity team that year. Included in that total were eight players that also played the same position Jordan would have played.
At the time, he was actually better known for his baseball skills as a standout pitcher and center fielder for the school’s team. The coach of the high school basketball team at the time was Clifton “Pop” herring. He only had one spot to fill with a sophomore player, so he chose 6 foot 7 inch forward Leroy Smith to help fill out the team with more size. Smith would go on to play for UNC-Charlotte and professionally in Europe.
What was Michael Jordan’s Response to Not Making the Varsity Team?
He obviously wasn’t happy. Jordan would go on in interviews in later years to say that he felt “embarrassed” by not making the team with there being players that he felt he out-performed. Regardless, he would go on to star on the JV team and had several 40 point games that season. Jordan would also show his intense work ethic even at this stage of his career, regularly showing up to his school gym before classes to practice. He would go on to hit a growth spurt and make the varsity his final two years in high school.
Michael Jordan’s High School Basketball Accomplishments
During Jordan’s junior year in High School, he would become a star. He was significantly more assertive than he had been as a sophomore, and he score 35 points in his first High School varsity game. During the two seasons that MJ played on the Laney varsity, he would average 25.4 points per game, 12 rebounds per game, and 5.3 assists per game. Following his junior season, Jordon was invited to attend Howard Garfinkel’s Five-Star Basketball Camp where he did nothing but impress against the nation’s top high school players and would go on to sign with UNC prior to the start of his senior year.
Michael Jordan’s Senior Year Statistics
During Michael Jordan’s senior year at Laney High School, he would average a triple double (*this accomplishment needs to be confirmed). His reported stats for his Senior year were 26.8 points per game, 11.6 rebounds and 10.1 assists. He would also be selected to the McDonald’s All-American Team after this performance during the season.
Although he led his team to the overall #1 state ranking in North Carolina that season, his Laney team would lose the conference championship to New Hanover 56-52.
Jordan would go on to score 30 points and earn the MVP award in the All-American game held later that year in Wichita, Kansas. Jordan was also recruited for his baseball abilities during these years and had a 45 inning stretch of shutout pitching at one point, but elected to focus on basketball at UNC.
In 2012, before the 35th anniversary of the McDonald’s All-American Game, they named Michael Jordan as one of the 35 greatest McDonald’s All-Americans.