Some might call it confidence. Others might call him cocky.
Whatever the label, Allen Iverson backed up his words.
Shortly after Bethel won the Division 5 state football championship in 1992, Iverson made a bold prediction. He had been the star quarterback and defensive back for the Bruins' football team. Now he was saying Bethel would win the state championship in basketball, too.
Three months later, Iverson completed his double. Bethel won the Group AAA state championship and Iverson turned in the greatest year ever by a Group AAA player by averaging 31.6 points a game.
The Associated Press named Iverson the Group AAA player of the year in both sports.
Here's part of the description when the Daily Press named Iverson its football player of the year:
"Iverson the quarterback passed for 1,423 yards with 14 touchdowns. Iverson the runner gained 781 yards with 15 touchdowns. Iverson the kick returner scored five touchdowns, four on punts. Iverson the defensive back intercepted eight passes."
And here's part of the description when the paper gave him the same honor for basketball:
"Maybe the nation's best high school point guard, the first team Parade All-American led the Bruins to their first state, Eastern Region and Peninsula District titles. ... He is at the top of the list when players having the complete package of skills are discussed. He has explosive quickness, great leaping ability and NBA 3-point shooting range."
And he was just a junior.
Iverson didn't play high school sports as a senior. After a brawl in a Hampton bowling alley and his conviction on three counts of mob violence, he spent four months in jail before then-Gov. L. Douglas Wilder granted him clemency. He finished the school year at an alternative high school.
Georgetown won the recruiting battle, and Iverson spent two years there before heading to the National Basketball Association. He averaged 23 points a game in two college seasons.
He's now played eight years with the Philadelphia 76ers. His accomplishments include being the NBA's Most Valuable Player in the 2000-01 season, a five-time starter in the NBA All-Star game and a spot on the United States Olympic team.
But it all started at Bethel. He played three years of basketball and scored 1,704 points.
In football, he was a defensive back as a freshman, then he also played quarterback as a sophomore and junior.
"We realized once we got the ball to him, things would happen," said Dennis Kozlowski, then Bethel's football coach.
Said Mike Bailey, then Bethel's basketball coach:
"He took great advantage of Boo Williams' AAU program. Every time he would go away, he came back a better player. Sometimes kids will get caught up into what they've done and they don't look forward. He always looked at it as a bigger challenge ahead of him."
Was basketball the right choice?
"The fact that he's the MVP of the NBA tells us his choice was a good one," Bailey said.
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