attended Lower Merion High School, after having spent a part of
his childhood in Italy. While in high school, Bryant proved to be
a star player on the courts, and earned enough honors and triumphs
to make the big jump to the NBA and make up for his lack of college basketball experience.
As a senior Kobe was
voted USA Today and Parade Magazine's National High School Player
of the Year and he led his team to Class AAAA state title with a
31-3 record. Kobe also broke records along the way. With an average
of 30.8 points, 12 rebounds, 6.5 assists, 4.0 steals, 3.8 blocked
shots per game, and a total of 2,883 points, Bryant became the leading
scorer in Southeastern Pennsylvania history -- beating out previous
records set by NBA great Wilt Chamberlain and Carlin Warley.
A four-year starter,
Bryant was recognized for his innate basketball skills by being
named Naismith Player of the Year, Gatorade Circle of Champions
High School Player of the Year, and became a McDonald's All-America
He went straight from
high school to professional basketball. The Lakers wanted Bryant
but were drafting late, so they swung a deal with the Charlotte
Hornets whereby Charlotte selected him with the 13th overall pick
in the first round of the 1996 NBA Draft (June 26,1996), and then
traded the signing rights for Kobe to the Los Angeles Lakers for
seven-year veteran center Vlade Divac. This way Kobe became the
first Los Angeles player to have bypassed college.
By skipping college he also became the youngest player
to ever debut in the NBA (at 18 years, 2 months and 11 days old).
Bryant set a new record at the 1997 Rookie Game, with 31 points
and 8 rebounds. Bryant also slam-dunked his way during the 1997
NBA All-Star Weekend, by winning the Slam Dunk Championship. During the 1998 All-Star
Game, Bryant was voted a starter, making him another history-making
player, as the youngest All-Star player in the NBA. And that was just the start of it.