LeBron James’ highschool soccer profession: The stats, the highlights and the NFL gives years later

LeBron James was dubbed the following massive factor for the NBA earlier than he entered the league in the course of the 2003 NBA Draft. The St. Vincent-St. Mary Excessive College star was the No. 1 general choose by the Cavaliers, and Cleveland hoped he would flip into the league’s subsequent massive star.

James has carried out simply that. He’s extensively considered top-of-the-line gamers in NBA historical past and is usually the participant who many pit head-to-head with Michael Jordan when discussing the best basketball participant of all time.

That mentioned, James in all probability may have been an all-time nice in a completely different sport if he did not keep on with basketball. That may be soccer.

James performed soccer for 2 seasons throughout his highschool days and was thought of the No. 1 soccer prospect in Ohio. At 6-8, 232 kilos, he was in comparison with “a taller, slower version of Randy Moss.” He obtained recruiting curiosity from a number of big-name colleges, however he by no means budged on his need to play basketball and go to the NBA.

James performed his final aggressive soccer recreation 20 years in the past. Whereas it is clear that he made the proper alternative, many soccer followers nonetheless prefer to think about what would have occurred if he had chosen soccer as a substitute.

LeBron James highschool soccer profession

LeBron James soccer stats

James performed simply two years of highschool soccer, however he averaged mind-numbingly good numbers throughout them. He averaged higher than 20 yards per reception throughout his highschool profession because of his skill to each outjump folks and make tacklers miss.

That leaping skill is a part of what led James to rack up 23 receiving TDs throughout his two seasons. Had he performed 4 full years, he would have been on tempo for 46 profession receiving touchdowns. That may have tied for the seventh-most in Ohio highschool historical past. 

Season Catches Yards Touchdowns
Sophomore 46 905 7
Junior 57 1,160 16
Complete 103 2,065 23

LeBron James soccer highlights

You’ve got seen one million highlights of LeBron on the court docket, however seeing him on the gridiron is a special sort of expertise.

The standard of those 20-year-old highlights will not be one of the best, however even by way of the grainy, pre-HD movies, James’ insane measurement and athletic skill stand out. 

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Was LeBron James a very good soccer participant?

James was an excellent highschool soccer participant. He performed simply two seasons at St. Vincent-St. Mary Excessive College however was named an All-Ohio broad receiver twice in these two seasons.

James used his lanky, 6-8 body and unbelievable athletic skill to make numerous spectacular catches throughout his highschool days. He additionally confirmed toughness on the sector. He as soon as broke his finger and was informed he did not must play or could possibly be used as a decoy if he went on the sector. His response to the coaches?

“I am no decoy,” James mentioned, per ESPN.

So why did James cease taking part in soccer? There have been a number of causes that James elected to cease taking part in after his junior yr. In an look on the “Manningcast,” he blamed his choice on poor quarterback play.

“If I’d’ve had a greater quarterback in highschool, I would’ve continued to play soccer,” James said. “I took manner too many hits.”

James additionally handled a damaged wrist that sidelined him for his senior season in 2002. So, he basically stopped taking part in soccer to guard his basketball profession, because it was at all times his aim to go professional within the NBA. That is a part of why he did not play soccer throughout his freshman yr.

That mentioned, James was recruited to play soccer by a number of notable applications, together with Ohio State and Notre Dame. Nonetheless, as his coach Jay Brophy informed Bleacher Report, James by no means thought of selecting soccer over basketball.

“I went over to him and he was within the library and I mentioned, ‘LeBron, hey, let me ask you, are you actually keen on taking part in faculty soccer? I’ve received a ton of faculties asking about you taking part in which have referred to as me,'” Brophy mentioned. “He mentioned, ‘Nicely coach, I am 99 p.c positive I am in all probability going to the NBA. However I wouldn’t rule it out.’

“He began laughing and he mentioned, ‘No coach, I am kidding. I am gonna play basketball.’ I mentioned, ‘All proper, I simply wished to know.’ “

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What place was LeBron James in soccer?

James performed broad receiver throughout his highschool days and in addition performed forestall security and served because the scout staff quarterback. Some believed he may play nearly wherever if he had stored taking part in.

“With LeBron’s athleticism, I may see him as a good finish, H-back, receiver,” St. Vincent-St. Mary grad and former Indiana linebacker Chip Hilling informed ESPN. “LeBron may wreak havoc as an outdoor linebacker, edge go rusher. He is a freak.”

That mentioned, James nearly definitely would have been a good finish had he continued taking part in. He has the requisite measurement (6-8) and elite athletic skill wanted to be a giant, robust mismatch weapon within the type of Antonio Gates.

Gates is a superb instance of a superb tight finish who performed NFL soccer regardless of having by no means performed faculty soccer. He performed 16 NFL seasons and recorded 116 touchdowns — the NFL report for a good finish — in 236 video games performed.

Jimmy Graham is one other good instance of this. He was primarily a basketball participant at Miami earlier than the Saints spent a third-round draft choose on him. He performed only one season of school soccer as a senior, however he confirmed sufficient to be a top-100 choose due to his 6-7 body. Graham has logged 701 catches, 8,378 receiving yards and 82 touchdowns. He’s nonetheless taking part in as a member of the Bears.

Corridor of Famer Tony Gonzalez was a dual-sport athlete in faculty, too. In the meantime, former Broncos tight finish Julius Thomas and present Colts tight finish Mo Alie-Cox spent most of their faculty careers taking part in basketball. Thomas performed one season of soccer at Portland State whereas Alie-Cox by no means performed till he joined the Colts.

Why do most basketball-turned-football gamers find yourself at tight finish? It is as a result of the talent units are related. Tight ends have to be massive, in a position to block and in a position to make use of their athletic skill to make contested catches over the center of the sector. Basketball gamers are sometimes tall, know block out from rebounding and are among the many greatest athletes on the earth.

Thus, it is no shock that the basketball-to-tight finish pipeline exists. Neither is there a lot doubt that James would have performed — and sure excelled — on the place.

MORE: DeAndre Hopkins flirted with basketball career before NFL

Did LeBron James have soccer gives?


James was closely recruited by conventional faculty soccer powerhouses throughout his time in highschool. That included Ohio State, Alabama and Miami.

Nonetheless, as James’ highschool soccer coach — former NFL linebacker Jay Brophy — defined, the coaches all ultimately realized it was a waste of time to pursue James. He had already determined he was going to play basketball.

“Till the coaches received smart to how nice he was and realized that he was undoubtedly going to play basketball, all of them wished him,” Brophy told Bleacher Report in 2016. “It was all the main colleges.”


James truly did obtain a few gives to play within the NFL. They got here in the course of the 2011 NBA lockout, as a few opportunistic NFL minds — Jerry Jones and Pete Carroll — tried to court docket James whereas he was off the court docket.

James defined how the gives went down during an appearance on “Monday Night Football with Peyton and Eli” in Week 4.

“Jerry Jones provided me a contract additionally Pete Carroll did as properly in Seattle throughout our lockout time,” James informed the Manning brothers. “It undoubtedly received my blood flowing once more, it received my thoughts elevating once more occupied with the sport of soccer and being on the market on Sundays. However we had been in a position to get a deal carried out within the NBA and I used to be again on the court docket very quickly however I undoubtedly considered it.”

James has expressed confidence through the years that he would have been signed if he had attended tryouts with the Seahawks, Cowboys or Browns. He was 26 on the time the gives had been on the desk.

“I’d have made the staff,” James told The Athletic. “I’d have tried out, however I’d have made the staff. One factor about it, I don’t thoughts working for one thing, so if I’d have needed to check out for the Cowboys or the Seahawks, or if I’d have stayed house and went again house to Cleveland, I’d have tried (out), however I’d have made the staff.

“I simply know what I’m able to doing on the soccer area. Particularly at that age.”

Alas, the lockout ending snapped James again to actuality and created top-of-the-line “what if” hypotheicals in sports activities. Nonetheless although, he has stored a few souvenirs from that point in his life.

“I nonetheless have the jerseys too that Jerry and Pete despatched me from 2011,” James mentioned.

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