Carolinas celebration: How many former high school basketball standouts from North and South Carolina are playing in the NBA finals?

By Richard Walker

When the Milwaukee Bucks and Phoenix Suns clash for the 2021 NBA Finals, it’s a certainty at least two Carolinas products are going to pick up title rings.

Khris Middleton

The Bucks have two players from the Carolinas – Raleigh Enloe High’s P.J. Tucker and North Charleston, S.C., Porter-Gaud’s Khris Middleton – and the Suns have three – West Forsyth’s Chris Paul, Concord and Charlotte Northside Christian product Ty-Shon Alexander and Great Falls, S.C.’s Torrey Craig.

Milwaukee is in its first NBA Finals since 1974 and seeks its first NBA title since 1971.

Middleton, a 2009 Porter-Gaud graduate who played at Texas A&M, is a 16.8 career scorer in nine seasons for 585 games (510 starts) for Detroit and Milwaukee. A two-time NBA All-Star, Middleton scored 32 points in the Bucks’ 118-107 Eastern Conference championship-clinching win at the Atlanta Hawks last week.

Tucker, a 2003 Enloe graduate who played at Texas, is a 7.1 career scorer in 10 seasons for 706 games (511 starts) for Toronto, Phoenix, Houston and Milwaukee. Tucker also has five years of professional experience in Europe.

Phoenix is in its first NBA Finals since 1993 and third overall; The Suns also lost in the 1976 championship series.

Paul, a 2003 West Forsyth graduate who played at Wake Forest, is a 13.4 career scorer in 16 seasons for 1090 starts for New Orleans, the Los Angeles Clippers, Houston, Oklahoma City and Phoenix. An 11-time NBA All-Star, Paul scored 41 points – 31 in the second half – in the Suns’ 130-103 Western Conference championship-clinching win at the Clippers last week.

Chris Paul

Ty-Shon Alexander, a 2017 Oak Hill, Va., graduate who played at Concord and Charlotte Northside Christian and at Creighton, spent his rookie NBA season shuttling between Phoenix and the G-League. He averaged 0.6 points, 0.5 rebounds and 0.4 assists in 15 games for Phoenix this year.

And Craig, a 2010 Great Falls graduate who played at USC Upstate, is a 5.3 career scorer in five seasons for 222 games (77 starts) for Detroit, Milwaukee and Phoenix. Craig was traded by Milwaukee to Phoenix on March 18, 2021.

The 2021 NBA finals schedule (all games televised on ABC):

Game 1: Tuesday, 9 p.m. at Phoenix
Game 2: Thursday, 9 p.m. at Phoenix
Game 3: Sunday, 8 p.m. at Milwaukee
Game 4: July 14, 9 p.m. at Milwaukee
Game 5 (if necessary): July 17, 9 p.m. at Milwaukee
Game 6 (if necessary): July 20, 9 p.m. at Phoenix
Game 7 (if necessary): July 22, 9 p.m. at Phoenix