Posted On: 09/7/18 10:20 AM

In Northern California, there are a lot of schools who have maintained success over the years in basketball. High Schools like Bishop O Dowd, Salesian, Sheldon, Sacramento High School, and more, are among the top teams in Northern California, and there have even been years where they were one of the top teams in the state. Despite their similarities in being winning programs, there are major differences and rules that apply between some of these top schools.

Perhaps the biggest difference in some of the schools that are ranked in the top 10 in Northern California, is the fact that some schools are private schools, and others are public. This becomes a big difference not only because one school is public and the other isn’t, but because as a private school, coaches are allowed to recruit players to their school, while public schools cannot. Public schools have to get whatever student-athlete that lives near the school. These rules makes it easier for private schools to maintain success, by a way of replenishing their talent due to recruiting. 


Public school coaches and parents have complained about the freedom private schools have, and feel that it is an unfair advantage. However, despite the advantage the private schools have with recruiting, for schools like Sacramento High School, or Grant High School who are both public schools, have been able to maintain success as well. These two schools have implemented a culture that the young athletes buy into, and have made it appealing enough for kids to want to go to school there which has allowed the programs to continue to get talent.


School size and location, also plays a huge role in maintaining success for public schools. For example, Sacramento High School and McClymonds which is in Oakland, are two big cities which means that there are a lot of athletes around their school zone to choose from. For schools like Richmond High School, or Vallejo High School, maintaining success can be very difficult because of how small those cities are compared to Oakland or Sacramento. Although they may get talent, most gifted athletes from those areas, end up going to private schools.


Orlando Magic power forward Aaron Gordon, and Portland Trailblazers point guard Damian Lillard, both come from the Bay Area, but took different routes to get there. Aaron Gordon who comes from San Jose, California, went to Archbishop High School which is a private school. Gordon played four years of varsity, and helped Mitty win two state championships, before attending the University of Arizona for a year.


Damien Lillard went a different route by going to Oakland High School, which is a public school, for his final two years of high school. Prior to attending Oakland High School, Lillard attended St. Joseph, but transferred due to lack of playing time. After high school, he would earn a scholarship to Weber State, where he would play all four years in college, before getting drafted in the top 10 by the Portland Trailblazers. 


Public School or Private School, there isn’t a wrong answer in terms of which option will give the athlete the best chance to be successful however, there are currently more pro players in the NBA that come from the public school system than there are from private schools. In Northern California, private schools get a lot of heat from public school coaches and parents because of the recruiting. However, the private schools are doing exactly what the rules allow them to do. Public schools must focus on building a culture that kids in the area, want to be a part of. The public schools that have the most success are the ones that have a sense of tradition, and the community behind them that understands that tradition.