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September 19, 2019

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Sports Illustrated’s past cover kids found mixed success

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Rick Mount, Feb. 14, 1966

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Jon Peters, May 8, 1989

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LeBron James, Feb. 18, 2002

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Bryce Harper isn’t the first high school athlete to grace the cover of Sports Illustrated — just the first since LeBron James. When crown prince James was featured in 2002, put together a list of the 10 prep athletes who’d been on the SI cover since 1966. Here’s how they’ve fared:

• Rick Mount, Feb. 14, 1966: “Brightest Star in High School Basketball — Rick Mount of Lebanon, Ind.” Mount averaged 39.4 points in his senior year at Purdue. In addition to being my dad’s favorite player, Mount played for four ABA teams — the Indiana Pacers, Kentucky Colonels, Memphis Sounds and Utah Stars.

 Tom McMillen, Feb. 16, 1970: “The Best High School Player in America — Mansfield’s Tom McMillen.” McMillen played at Maryland, for the U.S. Olympic Team and spent 11 seasons in the NBA. Then he had three terms as a congressman.

• Mike Peterson, Aug. 9, 1971: “Kansas Schoolboy Marvel Mike Peterson.” This young man was a four-sport star in high school but made it only as far as Kansas State Teachers College, which is now called Emporia State.

• Bruce Hardy, April 28, 1974: “Best Schoolboy Athlete — Utah’s Bruce Hardy.” Hardy was drafted by the Dolphins in the ninth round and caught 256 passes for 2,455 yards and 25 touchdowns in a 12-year NFL career.

• Bobby Carpenter, Feb. 23, 1981: “The Can’t-Miss Kid — Here’s Bobby Carpenter. He’s 17 and hails from Peabody, Mass. NHL scouts say he’s the best U.S. prospect they’ve seen. Ever.” The Can’t Miss Kid didn’t miss. He was the first American to score 50 goals in an NHL season and had an 18-year career.

• Kristie Phillips, Sept. 1, 1986: “Kristie Phillips — The New Mary Lou.” She was only 14 and weighed just 74 pounds when she graced the cover and although she won the 1987 U.S. all-around gymnastics title, Kristie never appeared on a box of Wheaties. She did, however, receive a cheerleading scholarship to LSU.

• Jon Peters, May 8, 1989: “Superkid — Texas high school pitching phenom Jon Peters runs his record to 51-0.” Peters signed with Texas A&M but tore his rotator cuff and never pitched for the Aggies, retiring at the age of 21.

• Kevin Garnett, June 26, 1995: “Three weeks ago Kevin Garnett went to his high school prom. Next week he’ll be the top pick in the NBA draft.” As it turned out, Garnett was picked fifth, by the Timberwolves. He went on to become an NBA All-Star.

• Richie Parker, June 24, 1996: “Last year Richie Parker was convicted of sexually assaulting a 16-year-old girl. Last week he received a college basketball scholarship. A modern morality tale.” Once recruited by UNLV, Parker played four years for Long Island University and graduated. He has been featured in commercials directed by Spike Lee and now works in the administration department at his alma mater.

• LeBron James, Feb. 18, 2002: “High school junior LeBron James would be an NBA lottery pick right now.” You know the rest of the story.

• Bryce Harper, June 8, 2009: “Baseball’s Chosen One — Bryce Harper is the most exciting prodigy since LeBron.” Only time will tell.

When Vegas was the cover star:

This week’s Sports Illustrated cover featuring Las Vegas High baseball star Bryce Harper was the fifth SI cover shot in Las Vegas, according to the magazine’s Web site.

The others had to do with major fights:

Nov. 22, 1965: “The Big Fight” — Clay vs. Patterson.”

April 22, 1985: “Marvelous! Marvin Hagler TKOs Thomas Hearns.”

March 25, 1991: “Desert Storm: Mike Tyson beats Razor Ruddock by a controversial TKO in Las Vegas.”

Nov. 15, 2003: “Revenge! On a wacky night in Las Vegas, Evander Holyfield regained his heavyweight title.”

Athletes with local ties who have appeared on the Sports Illustrated cover include Andre Agassi and wife Steffi Graf (separate covers), Greg Maddux, the 1990 UNLV basketball team, Kurt Busch, Randall Cunningham, Matt Williams and Lori Harrigan, who was pictured with the gold medal-winning USA softball team.

Several part-time Las Vegans, such as Jason Giambi, Frank Thomas, Reed Johnson and Sonny Liston, who is buried here, also have appeared out front. Mike Tyson, who has a home here, has been on the cover eight times.

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