Wilson Post Blogs
Hoops talent showcased in 'Boro
Out of the thousands of high school basketball players in Tennessee, only a small percentage will be in Murfreesboro this week for the boys state tournament. It’s the closest thing to true amateur sports we have left.
It is estimated that approximately two percent of those who play high school athletics go on to play college sports. For most of the players you will see this week, it will be the final games of their careers.
Players who won Most Valuable Player awards in past state tournaments reads like a who’s who in state basketball circles.
Brentwood Academy’s Brandan Wright won MVP honors four straight years in the Division II state tournament. He is currently playing in the NBA.
White Station’s Joe Jackson was MVP of the 2009 Division I Class AAA tournament. He is the University of Memphis’ top player and will be in the NCAA Tournament.
Vanderbilt signed former state tournament MVP players Mike Rhodes, Jason Holwerda, Charles Davis and Kevin Anglin.
Tennessee got MVPs Dane Bradshaw, Vincent Yarbrough, Tony Harris, Tyler Smith, Aaron Green, Stanley Caldwell, Lang Wiseman, Jimmy England, Doug Atkins and Carlus Groves.
Other names familiar to basketball fans are Anfernee "Penny" Hardaway, Tony Delk, "Cannon" Whitby, Kirk Haston, Sylvester Gray, Trey Pearson, Willie Kemp, Elston Turner Sr., Ron Huery, Malcom Mackey, Anthony Roberts, Richard Fuqua and Bobby Parks, just to name a few.
Four teams have won a state-leading six state championships – Bolton, Perry County, Memphis East and Montgomery Bell Academy. Ensworth has now won four of the last five Division II Class AA state championships with guard Corn Elder winning three straight MVP honors.
Personally, I remember the 1960 state champion Hampton Bulldogs. There were no classifications at that time. You played District, Regional and State tournaments. Often times a small school would have to beat a school that was three or four times larger in enrollment.
Hampton was one of those small schools. Their coach was the legendary Buck Van Huss. The school had no football team and every basketball player had a key to the gym. They practically lived there.
Their tallest player was maybe 6-3. They pressed full court the entire game and could shoot the lights out. That year they went 44-4 and won the state championship game at Vanderbilt. Players on that team included Willie Malone, Wesley Forbes, Jerry White and Cotton Nave. Malone had a deadly two-hand set shot, a popular shot in those days.
They were the "Hoosiers" before the movie. Van Huss would move to Kingsport Dobyns-Bennett where he produced several state tournament teams.
This week, there will two area schools in the tournament that will be experiencing their first state tournament.
Watertown is 30-3 and will compete in the Class A division. It is the first time to make the state tournament in the history of the school, dating back more than 100 years.
The Class AAA Brentwood Bruins are also first-timers, but their school is only 30 years old.
They need to let the whole experience soak in. The players don’t realize it, but the young kids in their cities think they are larger than life. Those kids will remember those players’ names years from now, just like I remember that Hampton team.
They should feel honored to be a part of what so few high school athletes will ever experience.