Legendary Duke University men’s basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski offered a supreme compliment to the late Kobe Bryant by saying that the Los Angeles Lakers icon was the greatest high school basketball player he’s ever seen.
Krzyzewski offered his thoughts during “The Dream Team Tapes: Kobe, LeBron & The Redeem Team” podcast, stating (at the 18:17 mark) that he and other coaches knew that Bryant would go straight from high school to the NBA.
“You know, I never thought he would go to college,” Krzyzewski said. “We recruited him but … no one recruited him to any deep level because you knew. I never saw LeBron [James] play in high school, but when I saw Kobe play—he’s the best high school player I’ve ever seen.
“And when he walked into a gym, he walked in like [Michael] Jordan, at a high school level. Like, the place stopped. He not only could play the role during a game, he played the role before and after the game. He looked that good, he believed he was that good, and he was that good. But, I knew he was never going to come [to Duke].”
While Krzyzewski lost out on bringing Bryant to Duke, it’s clear from his 1,399 career wins and five national championships at the school that he was able to find plenty of other talented players that led his teams to victory.
Bryant, of course, went on to an iconic 20-year career with the Lakers, where he matched Krzyzewski’s accomplishment by leading his team to five NBA titles.
Sadly, Bryant’s death last year ended any chance to get him to comment on whether he may have played for Krzyzewski had that opportunity presented itself.