Kevin Garnett was born in Greenville, South Carolina to Shirley Garnett and O'Lewis McCullough, and was the second of his mother's three children. Garnett fell in love with the sport of basketball while attending Hillcrest Middle School, although he did not play organized ball until high school. In his first three high school years, Garnett played for Mauldin High School and then transferred to Farragut Career Academy in Chicago, Illinois for his senior year. He led Farragut to a 28-2 record and was named National High School Player of the Year by USA Today. He was named Mr. Basketball for the State of Illinois after averaging 25.2 points, 17.9 rebounds, 6.7 assists and 6.5 blocks while shooting 66.8 percent from the field.
In four years of high school, Garnett posted an impressive 2,553 points, 1,809 rebounds and 737 blocked shots. He was named the Most Outstanding Player at the McDonald's All-American Game after registering 18 points, 11 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 blocked shots, and then declared himself eligible for the 1995 NBA Draft. In high school, Garnett played alongside Ronnie Fields, who also became a professional basketball player. To mark the 35th anniversary of the McDonald's All American High School Boys Basketball Game, Garnett was honored as one of 35 Greatest McDonald's All Americans.
Garnett was drafted with the fifth pick of the 1995 NBA Draft by the struggling Minnesota Timberwolves, and became the first player to be drafted directly out of high school since 1975. After joining the NBA for the 1989-90 season, the Timberwolves had not won more than 29 games in any season. In his rookie year, Garnett and fellow newcomer Tom Gugliotta carried the scoring load. He averaged 10.4 points, 6.3 rebounds and 1.8 assists per game and was voted into the All-Rookie Second Team. At the time Garnett was the youngest NBA player in history at 19 years and 11 months of age.
In the 1996-97 season, the Timberwolves made their first playoff appearance in franchise history, Garnett and Gugliotta made their first All-Star appearances, and Stephon Marbury established himself as a valuable young lead guard.
During the 1997-98 NBA season, the Minnesota Timberwolves and Garnett agreed on a six-year contract extension. Garnett continued to improve, averaging 18.5 points, 9.6 rebounds, 4.2 assists, 1.8 blocks, and 1.7 steals per game. Again, he was an All-Star, and the Timberwolves finished with their first winning record in franchise history (4,537 for the season). For the second consecutive year, the young Timberwolves bowed out of the playoffs in the first round, this time losing 23 against the Seattle SuperSonics and superstar point guard Gary Payton. The two wins against the Sonics marked the Wolves' first-ever playoff game wins. The off-season started poorly for the Timberwolves though as 20-point per game scorer Tom Gugliotta left for the Phoenix Suns.
In the lockout-shortened season that followed, Garnett broke through as a superstar. Putting up stats of 20.8 points, 10.4 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 1.8 blocks per game, he was named to the All-NBA Third Team. However, midway through the season Stephon Marbury was traded to the New Jersey Nets. Although the Wolves received two-time All-Star Terrell Brandon in return, they were not able to overcome the discord and limped into the playoffs as the 8th seed with a 2525 record. The Wolves were defeated in the first round again, this time losing 13 to the eventual champion San Antonio Spurs who were led by young superstar and eventual NBA Finals MVP Tim Duncan. In the next season, Garnett continued his notable play, averaging 22.9 points, 11.8 rebounds, 5.0 assists, 1.6 blocks and 1.5 steals per game and made the first of his four All-NBA First Team appearances. Assisted by sharpshooting rookie forward Wally Szczerbiak and steady veteran Brandon, the Wolves posted a franchise-best 5032 record, but succumbed in the first round to the Portland Trail Blazers 31.
In the 19992000 NBA season, Timberwolves' guard Malik Sealy was killed by a drunk driver and the NBA ruled that the free agent signing of Joe Smith was illegal. The NBA punished the team for the illegal signing by stripping the team of three first-round draft picks, fining Glen Taylor (the owner of the team) $3.5 million, and banning general manager Kevin McHale for one year. Garnett led the Wolves to a 4735 record and made the All-NBA Second Team, but again, the Wolves did not survive the first round of the playoffs, losing to the Spurs 31.
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