Where NBA Talent Is Born – What Makes Seattle’s Metro Basketball Conference Special

Seattle is, and always has been, a basketball town. 

There is something in the cultural undertones of this city that breeds light to the universal hoops god. It is something that can’t necessarily be seen, but it is felt throughout the city. It could be the rainy weather, love of the game, or local NBA players who draw interest, but it’s something unique.

There is no finer scene for high school basketball than the Metro Conference. This division of teams is generally where the elite hoopers of Seattle can be found. There are multiple players that have made the NBA coming out of this league. Some of the names include Brandon Roy, Nate Robinson, Jamal Crawford, Jason Terry, Spencer Hawes, Martell Webster, Dejounte Murray, Aaron Brooks, and Tony Wroten.

There’s sure to be a few players I missed; no disrespect to the people I left out.

Growing up as a kid in Seattle, we often talked about players from this conference like they were heroes. I remember hooping as a youngster at Greenlake and hearing rumors about some kid named “Pepe.” Folk tales spread, and there were stories about how he was dunking in the 7th grade.

Is that true? I have no idea. But I can tell you “Pepe” turned out to be the starting point guard on Louisville’s 2013 National Championship team. (FYI, his full name is Peyton Siva.)

Siva attended Franklin high school located in South Seattle. Many of the city’s elite players come from the south.

Storied programs such as Rainer Beach, Garfield (Central District), and Franklin have long defined Seattle’s hoops scene. And while they may not be on the level of a basketball prep school like Oak Hill Academy, they are among the nation’s elite teams.

In 2014, Beach was the only public-school invited to play in the Dick’s Sporting Goods High School Nation Tournament. And even though they lost, the fact that they were their playing as a neighborhood team versus nationally recruited powerhouses speaks for itself.

In Texas, small-town football games are synonymous with sold-out crowds, intense rivalries, and fierce competition. This same level of energy can be found when South Seattle and central district rivals face off.

When I was in high school, my friends and I traveled to Garfield high school to watch a game between Franklin and the home team. We knew some of the best players in the city were facing off in this matchup, but what we didn’t realize was how big of an event this really was.

When we got to the school, a never-ending line wrapped around the stadium that made the experience feel like an NBA playoff game. Electricity in the air combined with youthful exuberance created an electric atmosphere.  Hoopers from all parts of the city traveled to see this matchup. It was also apparent that not everyone in this line was going to make it into the arena, this contest sold out quickly.

All this for a regular-season HIGH SCHOOL basketball game!

The headliners of this game happened to be Pepe leading Franklin, as well as freshman prodigy Tony Wroten for Garfield. The faces may change but South-end versus central district rivalries remain the same—highly contested and elite competition.

And while the bulk of talent can be found at the aforementioned schools, there are emerging Metro programs outside of Seattle that are blossoming into some of the best teams in the state.

One of these squads is Eastside Catholic. Last year EC, finished their season 24-3 and (14-1) in-conference. This is the school that NBA first-round draft pick Matisse Thybulle attended. EC is located in Sammamish which is a suburb located on Seattle’s eastside; it is a different vibe than the Seattle based schools but the hoops spirit remains the same.

This conference stretches from the northernmost tip of the city with teams such as Lakeside, and Nathan Hale, across the ferry to Bainbridge, drive over to West Seattle, and everywhere in-between. This is not a neighborhood conference, it’s the state’s elites squaring off on the hardwood.

Sadly for Eastside, they fell one game short of the Metro League Title last year. Rainier Beach snagged the crown with an undefeated 16-0 conference record.

Garfield won the State title beating Beach in the championship game, but more importantly keeping the South end/central district rivalry alive.

High school sports are often thought of as a fun way to build a college resume, make friends, and stay in shape. But the Metro conference is so much more than that.

It’s a historic landmark in our city with a revolving door. 

It’s also a place where future NBA talent collides. 

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About Nick Bartlett 160 Articles
My Name is Nick Bartlett and I am a staff writer here at OregonSportsNews, The Broadcast Manager at SportsPac12, and I am a youth Basketball Coach at Lakeside Middle School. I’ve had my articles featured in the Seattle PI, OregonLive, and various other publications. I also have my own Podcast/YouTube Show titled “The Nick Bartlett Show.” I am from Shoreline, WA (North Seattle) and I am a graduate of the Murrow College of Communications at Washington State University. For business inquiries, you can find my contact information below. Email: NB206wsu@gmail.com, Twitter: @WordsByBartlett