As the first wave of boys named after Kobe Bryant moves closer to graduating high school, it's already clear that college basketball should brace for a Kobe invasion in the coming years. Here's a look at five of the top high school prospects named after the Los Angeles Lakers star:
Kobe Paras, G, Class of 2016
High school: Cathedral (California)
College: Signed with UCLA
How his name was chosen: The son of a Filipino basketball star turned actor, Paras is already a celebrity in his home country. His dad named him after Bryant after watching the Los Angeles Lakers guard blossom into an impact player early in his career. "My dad was a fan of Kobe Bryant and he loved his game," Paras said. "It really is crazy that I'm named after a living legend." Paras began playing basketball in third grade and came to the U.S. for high school to face better competition. He's part of a UCLA recruiting class ranked among the five best nationally.
Kobe King, G, Class of 2017
High School: La Crosse Central (Wisconsin)
College: Committed to Wisconsin
How his name was chosen: When her sister suggested she name her soon-to-be-born son "Coby," Julie Platten wasn't wild about the idea. "It reminded me of 'Colby,' which reminded me of cheese," she said. Shortly after that, Platten stumbled across a magazine with Bryant on the cover. Instantly she fell in love with the way his first name was spelled. The name has proven to be a good fit for Platten's son. King is one of the state of Wisconsin's top players in the junior class. He chose the in-state Badgers last September despite interest from the likes of Iowa State and Marquette.
Kobe Webster, G, Class of 2017
High School: Park Tudor (Indiana)
College: Receiving interest from Xavier, Purdue, Butler, Stanford, among others
How his name was chosen: Isaac Webster could never have guessed the connection his son would forge with Kobe Bryant when he and his wife chose to spell his name the same way the Lakers star does. Kobe Webster is such a big fan of Bryant that he watches old clips of him on YouTube, emulates his best moves on the driveway and vehemently defends him to anyone who says he's washed up. Webster has already been part of two state title teams in high school and he's hoping to win a third this spring. "If he could get five rings like Kobe Bryant, I think he'd shoot for it," his dad joked.
Kobi Simmons, G, Class of 2016
High School: St. Francis (Georgia)
College: Committed to Arizona
How his name was chosen: After Kobi Simmons' parents named his older brother Jalen after Jalen Rose, they wanted a basketball name for him too. His mom favored "Jordan," but the family dog already was named after the Chicago Bulls legend. Four-year-old Jalen suggested "Kobe Jordan Simmons" and his mom loved it, though she did mess with the spelling a bit to make it unique. While Jalen has gone on to play for lower-division Berea College, Kobi has the potential to play professionally someday. The McDonald's All-America combo guard committed to Arizona earlier this month.
Kobe Julien, F, Class of 2018
High School: Madison Prep (Louisiana)
College: Hearing from USC, Tulane, Louisiana-Lafayette so far
How his name was chosen: Before an NBA franchise relocated to New Orleans, the state of Louisiana had no team. Wayne Julien therefore chose to root for a team with prominent Louisiana ties – the Los Angeles Lakers and former LSU star Shaquille O'Neal. When Julien's son was born in 1999, he named the boy not after O'Neal but after the big man's young co-star. Kobe Julien has been a Bryant fan ever since and even wears his No. 24 both in high school and for his AAU team. "He was 23 or 24 inches at birth, so I figured he'd be a good basketball player," Wayne said. "So far I've been right."