Before Los Angeles Lakers prep-to-pro legend LeBron James or oft-injured New Orleans Pelicans All-Star Zion Williamson began building their brands through both traditional media platforms and social media (especially Williamson), there were some other very, very hyped players making their way through SLAM magazine and cable sports network top 10s, before the internet really took off into the all-encompassing cultural phenomenon it is today.
Bally Sports' Brandon "Scoop B" Robinson sat down with one of those players, 10-year pro baller Schea Cotton, for an extensive video conversation to get a sense of Cotton's experiences as a high school basketball sensation in a world without MySpace, let alone Facebook or Instagram. Robinson notes that Cotton, like Lakers legend Kobe Bryant and contemporaries Stephen Jackson and Baron Davis, developed a following in the days before social media with an array of explosive dunks, starting as early as seventh grade.
"To put it in context today, what LeBron has done with his career, considering social media has helped catapult his stardom, it would've been even more extreme than that to be honest," Cotton, now a coach, reflected. "Like a Zion Williamson, the fanfare that he had from his athleticism and his prowess, I was bringing that same fortitude, that same explosiveness without the extra weight. I hit the largest platforms we had."
Bryant, of course, was a star while at Lower Merion High, and eventually parlayed that into a prom date with Brandy -- oh right, and a 20-year Hall of Fame career with the Lakers. Davis and Jackson both enjoyed terrific NBA runs after emerging as high school studs.
Cotton split his high school years playing for programs in Bellflower and Santa Ana, plus Oakdale, Connecticut. He was named the Cal-Hi Sports Division I State Player of the Year in 1995 as a high school sophomore.
The Inglewood native ultimately went undrafted out of Alabama in 2000, and would go on to play in U.S. non-NBA pro leagues as well as Serbia, China, France, Venezuala, and Mexico.