Top 10 NBA Players Ever From Non-Division I Schools: Part 1


manute bol
Fighting Refrigerator Perry signaled Christ-like humility. Yes, the argument has been made.

EDITOR’S NOTE: THIS RANKING HAS BEEN EXPANDED TO SIXTEEN PLAYERS IN A LATER POST.

In June, we saw an eventful NBA Draft that drew from a variety of sources – Canada, Germany, Greece, Brazil, France, the NBDL and, of course, all levels of Division I basketball.

What we didn’t see – and haven’t seen for a while – is a draftee taken from a non-D1 college basketball program. Perhaps, the days of the Division II, Division III and even NAIA superstar who also ends up making a splash in the pros is over. It’s been more than a decade since anybody of note made this kind of jump.

For the sake of commemoration, let’s look back at the Top 10 “really, really small college” players in pro basketball history. Each of these guys didn’t let a non-D1 college basketball background stop them from achieving their dreams.

You’ll find three Arkansans on the list:

10. Devean George

College: Augsburg (Minneapolis, Minn.)

NBA Draft: Round 1/Pick 23rd by Los Angeles Lakers

NBA Playing Career: 1999-2010

All-Star Appearances: 0

Career High Averages

Points per game: 7.4

Rebounds per game: 4.0

Assists per game: 1.4

Steals per game: 1.0

Blocks per game: 0.5

43.2 % FG

39.0 % 3PT

George was a dominant scorer in Division III, averaging 27.5 ppg as a senior, but will forever be remembered as a sort-of-vital glue guy bench player during the Lakers’ 2000-02 threepeat. His career apex came in 2003-04, when he started 48 games and played nearly 24 minutes a game.

9. Flip Murray

College: Shaw University (Raleigh, N.C.)

NBA Draft: Round 2/Pick 42nd by Milwaukee Bucks

NBA Playing Career: 2002-10

All-Star Appearances: 0

Career High Averages

Points per game: 13.5

Rebounds per game: 2.5

Assists per game: 3.5

Steals per game: 1.4

Blocks per game: 0.3

44.8% FG

38.9% 3PT

(boldfaced statistics are from the 28-game stint Murray spent with Cavaliers in 2006)

As a senior, Murray set a Shaw University record of 23 ppg while racking up Division II Player of the Year honors. He made another splash as a Supersonic in 2003-04, when he scored 20 or more points 10 times in the season’s first 11 games (he started in absence of an injured Ray Allen). During the partial season  Murray played for the Cleveland Cavaliers, he averaged nearly 37 minutes a game.

8. Manute Bol

College: University of Bridgeport (Conn.)

NBA Draft: 1st time: Round 5/Pick 97 by San Diego Clippers (in 1983)

2nd time: Round 2/Pick 35 by Washington Bullets (in 1985)

NBA Playing Career: 1985-1995

All-Star Appearances: 0

Career High Averages

Points per game: 3.9

Rebounds per game: 6.0

Assists per game: 0.5

Steals per game: 0.4

Blocks per game: 5.0

60% FG

60% 3PT

The 7’6” Bol averaged  22.5 points, 13.5 rebounds, 7.5 blocks in leading DII Bridgeport to a 22-6 record in his one season there. His rookie season ended up being his best in the pros, and he remains the only player in NBA history with more blocked shots (2,086) than points (1,599).

Bol’s legacy reaches far beyond his record-setting 8’6” wingspan. He spent most of the money he made as a basketball player to alleviate the poverty and war afflicting the people of his native Sudan. He told Sports Illustrated in 2004  “God guided me to America and gave me a good job. But he also gave me a heart so I would look back.”


Screen Shot 2015-06-17 at 11.23.33 AM

Indeed, when Bol’s fortune dried up, he raised quick cash through publicity stunts in which he turned himself into a humorous spectacle – horse jockey, hockey player, celebrity boxer.

As John Shields wrote for the Wall Street Journal after Bol’s death in 2010:

Bol agreed to be a clown. But he was not willing to be mocked for his own personal gain as so many reality-television stars are. Bol let himself be ridiculed on behalf of suffering strangers in the Sudan; he was a fool for Christ.

Shields noted many sportswriters covering Bol’s death from severe kidney problems labeled him a “humanitarian” rather than “Christian.. Shields argues Bol’s Christian faith is fundamental to his identity, and whatever good he did for man was an outcome of first and foremost serving God.

Similarly, the mainstream media has avoided stressing the faith of other famous athletes, Shields wrote. “The remarkable charity and personal character of other NBA players, including David Robinson, A. C. Green and Dwight Howard, are almost never explicitly connected to their own intense Christian faith. They are simply good guys.”

Continue reading Top 10 NBA Players Ever From Non-Division I Schools: Part 1

Archie Goodwin Is Second Arkansan UK Wildcat Drafted Into the NBA

Traditionally Arkansas produces better football than basketball players so it’s notable when one of the state’s best prep player ends up playing for the hoop-crazy

Yep, Houston Nutt Jr's daddy.
Yep, Houston Nutt Jr’s daddy.

University of Kentucky. Indeed, it appears only three natives have ever done it and two of them went directly from an Arkansas high school to Lexington – Houston Nutt, Sr. in 1950-51 and Archie Goodwin last season.

Goodwin was drafted late with the 29th pick on Thursday night. The 18-year-old Little Rock native will start his NBA career as a young shooting guard with the Phoenix Suns. As a child, Goodwin looked up to the  last Arkansas shooting guard prospect to launch a career there: Joe Johnson. Indeed, Goodwin once told me he approached Johnson at a Little Rock camp when he was around 10 years old and told him something to the effect of: “My name’s Archie Goodwin and one day you’ll know my name.”

The other Arky-turned-Wildcat was Bob Burrow, a Malvern native who moved to central east Texas as a high school junior. In 1954, after graduating with 14 other seniors from Wells High School, the 6-7, 230-pound center wasn’t exactly the most highly recruited guy around.

Two years later, after dominating competition at nearby Lon Morris Junior College, he was.

Burrow fell hard for Kentucky, which he considered the world’s basketball capital. “When they recruited me, one of the alumni flew me out to Lexington on a visit. What I saw really impressed me.” Amazingly, UK head coach Adolph Rupp didn’t even watch him play and offered a scholarship on reputation alone.

Burrow ended up as a two-time All-American at Kentucky, averaged 20 points and nearly 16 rebounds a game. Indeed, his 17.7 rebounds a game as a junior is a UK record and his 34 rebounds in one game is an SEC record.

The Wildcats were 43-9 during his tenure and today Burrow’s #50 jersey in the rafters.

Don’t expect the same for Goodwin’s #10 jersey. Goodwin had a rough freshman year to the say the least, but he still flashed enough talent and physical tools (he’s 6-4 but has a 6-10 wingspan, which was as long as Scottie Pippen’s) to warrant a first-round selection.

He has the benefit of playing for a young, hungry team with a new head coach – Jeff Hornacek – who played his position and is strong in one of the areas (shooting) where Archie is most weak. Now whether that translates into a successful NBA career is anybody’s guess.

For Archie’s sake, let’s hope it is better than Burrow’s two years in the league playing for the Rochester Royals and Minneapolis Lakers. Although he was picked #9 overall in the 1956 Draft, he averaged only 5.7 points and 4.4 rebounds a game in his brief career.

[polldaddy poll=7211788]

Best Sub 7-Feet Tall Twin Towers in Basketball History

In pro basketball the term “twin towers” conjures up images of two hulking behemoths, typically in the seven feet range, who dominate the sport in the most elemental way possible – sheer, physical superiority. Olajuwon and Sampson, along with Duncan and Robinson, are likely the most famous examples.

But there have also been a few devastating combos in which both big men are under seven feet. Most recently, the best example is Rasheed and Ben Wallace, who formed the defensive backbone of the elite Detroit Piston teams of the mid 2000s.

In the mid South, it’s hard to avoid thinking about Michael Cage and Keith Lee, the cornerstones of a West Memphis High team* which won an Arkansas-record 60 straight games.

We’ll never know how Cage and Lee would have fared together at the NBA level  since bad knees caused Lee’s career to end prematurely. Had Lee stayed healthy, and teamed with Cage, they might have joined the list below.

Sport’s is all about winning, and players get their all-time cred from performances in the postseason. so I’ve focused on how the twin tower combo performed in the playoffs. The stats  you find are per-game averages  from the combo’s most dominant postseason.

 Rasheed Wallace (6’11”) & Ben Wallace (6’9″)

Detroit Pistons

Played in 23 playoff games in 2003-04; won NBA title

                   PPG  RPG  BPG APG  SPG  TOG (turnovers per game)

Rasheed 13.0   7.8    2.0   1.6   0.6    1.9

Ben           10.3 14.3    2.4   1.9   1.9    1.6

Total        23.3  22.1   4.4   3.5   2.5    3.5

Win Shares/48 minutes

Rasheed  .135

Ben           .186

True Shooting Percentage %

Rasheed 47.9%

Ben           46.0%

Player Efficiency Rating*

Rasheed 15.3

Ben 18.6

*all statistics from basketball-reference.com

Moses Malone (6’10”) and Charles Barkley (6’4″)

Philadelphia 76ers

Played in 13 playoff games in 1984-85; Lost in Eastern Conference Finals 4-1 to Boston

PPG    RPG    BPG   APG    SPG    TOG (turnovers per game)

Malone    20.2   10.6   1.7     1.8      1.3       1.8

Barkley    14.9    11.1    1.2    2.0      1.8       2.7

Total         35.1    21.7   2.9    3.8      3.1       4.5

Win Shares/48 minutes

Malone  .160

Barkley  .170

True Shooting Percentage %

Malone  50.9%

Barkley  58.2%

Player Efficiency Rating

Malone  18.0

Barkley 19.6

Continue reading Best Sub 7-Feet Tall Twin Towers in Basketball History

Michael Cage, Scottie Pippen, Joe Johnson … Fat Lever? Top 8 NBA “Arkansans” In Statistical Categories

Where does he rank against Sidney, Joe, Derek, Alvin et al? Courtesy Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
Where does he rank against Sidney, Joe, Derek, Alvin et al? Courtesy Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

Ever wondered how NBA Arkansans stack up against each other in terms of career statistics? Wonder no more: below is the first and only comprehensive list including both native Arkansans and non-natives who played college ball in Arkansas.

You’ll notice Scottie Pippen is the only player in each Top 8 list, followed by Alvin Robertson – who ranks in all categories except rebounds and blocks per game.

For fun, I’ve boldfaced the non-natives who played college ball in Arkansas. They are all Razorbacks.

STEALS

This, by far, is the category in which NBA Arkansans excel the most. Three of the top 12 ball thieves in NBA history rep Arkansas by birthplace (Lever), college (Robertson) or both (Pippen).

Total

Per Game

Scottie Pippen

2307

Alvin Robertson

2.71

Alvin Robertson

2112

Fat Lever

2.2

Fat Lever

1666

Scottie Pippen

2.0

Derek Fisher

1282

Michael Conley, Jr.

1.6

Darrell Walker

1090

Darrell Walker

1.51

Michael Cage

1050

Derek Fisher

1.50

Sidney Moncrief

924

Ronnie Brewer

1.29

Joe Johnson

850

Sidney Moncrief

1.2

POINTS

Total

Per Game

Scottie Pippen

18,940

Joe Barry Carroll

17.7

Joe Johnson

15,850

Joe Johnson

17.6

Joe Barry Carroll

12,455

Archie Clark

16.3

Sidney Moncrief

11,931

Scottie Pippen

16.1

Archie Clark

11819

Sidney Moncrief

15.6

Alvin Robertson

10,882

Alvin Robertson

14.0

Caldwell Jones***

10,241

Fat Lever

13.9

REBOUNDS

Total

Per Game

Caldwell Jones***

10,685

Caldwell  Jones

8.2

Michael Cage

8,646

Nathaniel Clifton

8.2

Scottie Pippen

7,494

Wil Jones

7.7

Wil Jones***

5,560

Joe Barry Carroll

7.7

Joe Barry Carroll

5404

Michael Cage

7.6

Fat Lever

4523

Bryant Reeves

6.9

Nathaniel Clifton

4469

Jim Barnes

6.5

Alvin Robertson

4,066

Scottie Pippen

6.4

N.B. Oliver Miller averaged 5.9 rebounds and Alvin Robertson averaged 5.2 in his NBA career. 

*** The Jones brothers’ stats include their seasons in the American Basketball Association, which merged with the NBA in 1976. I list the total of the NBA and ABA statistics. 

ASSISTS

Total

Per Game

Scottie Pippen

6,135

Fat Lever

6.2

Fat Lever

4,523

Mike Conley , Jr.

5.5

Joe Johnson

3,933

Scottie Pippen

5.2

Alvin Robertson

3929

Alvin Robertson

5.0

Derek Fisher

3,640

Archie Clark

4.8

Archie Clark

3498

Darrell Walker

4.6

Darrell Walker

3,276

Joe Johnson

4.4

Sidney Moncrief

2793

Sidney Moncrief

3.6

Continue reading Michael Cage, Scottie Pippen, Joe Johnson … Fat Lever? Top 8 NBA “Arkansans” In Statistical Categories

NBA Arkansans In The 2013 Playoffs

This isn’t the best of times for NBA Arkansans.

The playoffs began this weekend with defending champion Miami Heat as the most overwhelming favorite to win it all since the early 2000s Lakers. Back then, Arkansans played pivotal roles on a few title contenders. Little Rock native Derek Fisher, of course, manned the point for Los Angeles, which had to push through powerful Portland teams featuring Scottie Pippen.

A few years later, Corliss Williamson aided the Detroit Pistons’ push to a championship and an injury to Little Rock native Joe Johnson might have been the biggest reason Steve Nash’s run-and-gun Phoenix Suns never made the NBA Finals.

Eight years later, Johnson again finds himself in a supporting role. This time, though, instead of sprinting beside Nash and Amare Stoudemire, he’s jogging with Deron Williams and Brook Lopez on the No. 4 seed Brooklyn Nets. These days, production from Johnson, age 31, is trending downward. This season Johnson averaged 16.3 points on 42.3% shooting – the lowest averages since his second season.

The biggest reason for the drop has been nagging injuries – plantar fasciitis and a quad contusion – since February. Johnson, a six-time All-Star, needs a big playoff series against the No. 5 seed Bulls to give the Nets’ legitimate hope of dethroning Miami. If he’s looking for inspiration, he need look no farther than a series preview which ran in the Chicago Sun-Times.

In it is a position-by-position matchup analysis that pits Johnson, a six-time All-Star who has plenty big-time playoff experience, with Jimmy Butler, a 23-year-old who had played four playoff minutes in his career. The advantage went to Chicago.

By far, the most Arky-fied matchup is in the West, where Junction City native James Anderson and former Razorback Patrick Beverley helped Houston finish the season strong to lock up the eighth seed. Beverley, though, projects to play a much larger role than Anderson against No. 1 Oklahoma City. The 6-1 guard with a 6-7 wingspan joined Houston in January and has proven to be every bit the disruptive defender in the NBA that he was at Arkansas and in Europe. Beverley’s defense of Russell Westbrook is critical to Houston’s upset bid. [The task won’t be easy]

It should be no surprise to Hog fans that P-Bev is the NBA’s second best guard in offensive rebounding rate. In 2007-08, he was Arkansas’ shortest starter yet led the team with 6.6 rebounds a game.

Guards Derek Fisher and Ronnie Brewer are Oklahoma City substitutes. Fisher keeps ticking at age 38 but as his overall numbers continue to dwindle year-by-year it’s apparent he won’t be able to postpone his career’s end much longer. Still, it should not be taken for granted that dude is still playing point guard in the NBA at 38. That in itself is amazing, 33.3% FG shooting be damned.

Brewer, a former Razorback All-American, is a conundrum. He looked like a long-term NBA starter early in his career for the Jazz but in the last three years has bounced between four other teams. These playoffs could determine whether future teams are willing to invest millions more dollars into the 6-7 28-year-old or not.

Brewer’s long-term pro future hinges on his ability to improve his shooting, which has nosedived in the last two seasons. But, realistically, the Thunder don’t need Brewer to shoot even once to prove valuable in these playoffs. His true calling will likely come in a potential Finals rematch with Miami, when he would be summoned from the depths for the most grave task of climbing Mt. Defense. At the summit, above him, will glow LeBron James. Nothing short of a full-fledged living sacrifice will be expected.

“Human pinata” is not the sort of future Hog fans envisioned for Brewer when his career seemed so promising in Utah. Still, there’s no shame in being an NBA Arkansan who is expected to do not-so-big things in the playoffs. Everybody, it appears, is in the same boat.

But just because these guys don’t project to take center court on a national level, they still grab  the spotlight right on this blog.

If Fisher wins a sixth NBA title, he joins Pippen as the NBA Arkansan with the most rings. Where does Fisher rank, though, in other statistical categories?


Stay tuned for Part 2 for a breakdown of the Top 5 NBA Arkansans in each statistical category.

This piece is slated to publish in SYNC magazine.

Which Southern State Have Integrated Record Books?

I had a good interview with Wadie Moore, the assistant executive director for Arkansas’s organizing body for high school athletics, about the enduring issue of incomplete records. Here’s the resulting article:

When Wadie Moore started compiling a record book for the Arkansas Activities Association around 1996, he wanted it to be as comprehensive as possible.

The assistant executive director for Arkansas’s organizing body for high school athletics combed through archives and drew on the contacts he’d made in his decades of sportswriting for the Arkansas Gazette.

All the while, though, Moore knew the record book he was creating told an incomplete story of his state’s athletic past. He knew there had been two high school sports associations divided by race until 1967, when the all-white Arkansas Activities Association integrated with the all-black Arkansas State Athletic Association.

When compiling the book, which includes a list of state champions in various sports and all-time leaders in statistical categories, Moore used official records kept by the AAA dating back to the early 1900s. But he didn’t find any records kept by the ASAA. The paperwork, if it existed, apparently wasn’t transferred to the AAA headquarters. So, Moore didn’t include marks set by all-black powerhouse programs in basketball, football and track like Pine Bluff Merrill, Little Rock Dunbar, Horace Mann, Scipio Jones, Hot Springs Langston and Texarkana Washington high schools.

The result affects not only the AAA record book, but all the news reports that use it as a source.

Read the rest of the Arkansas Times piece here.

In researching this topic, I’ve discovered every Southern state has made different degrees of progress in exhibiting the history of its pre-integration, all-black athletic association.

West Virginia appears to have made the most headway of all non-Northern states with a deeply segregated racial past. The border state appears to have the oldest all-black association – dating back to at least 1925 – and today has an active All-Black Schools Sports & Academic Hall of Fame that holds ceremonies to celebrate an aspect of that state’s heritage that likely would otherwise remain vastly under-reported.

Continue reading Which Southern State Have Integrated Record Books?

The Arkansas Activities Association Should Integrate Its Record Book

5a boys
Hall’s Evan James, center, is surrounded by teammates after making a last second basket to beat Jonesboro 32-31 in the 6A boys high school championship. It was the fourth straight title for LR Hall, a feat only accomplished by two other programs – Scipio Jones and LR Central. Courtesy: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

In the scope of world history, high school sports isn’t all that significant.

You could study a 1,001 more subjects which have more of an effect on our everyday lives. My wife, who works as a pediatrician, deals with more life and death matters in the course of half of a minute than I will in a lifetime of work.

So there may only be a handful of people who care that a large part of Arkansas’ high school history is kept in the dark almost every time a major record is set.

Last year, I discussed this issue in the context of career scoring records set in basketball. The essential issue was that the Arkansas Activities Association only recognizes records that were set by the white student-athletes – but not black student-athletes – who played before integration.

Before the school integration that swept through the state in the late 1960s, there were two state athletic associations – one for whites, the other for blacks. Black students ultimately joined the white students in what had been the white students’ schools, leaving the black schools – typically in worse shape – behind. The same happened with the athletic associations. If the black athletic association kept its own records (it is unclear that such records were ever kept and if they still exist), then they have long been lost.

All that remain, officially, are the records that were kept in by what had been the all-white Arkansas Athletics Association.

This became most evident on Saturday, when Little Rock Hall High won its fourth consecutive state basketball title. This is a very rare Continue reading The Arkansas Activities Association Should Integrate Its Record Book

Justin McCleary’s Recruiting, Dederick Lee’s Offers And Arkansas’ New Representative in the Nike EYBL

 

Justin McCleary talks to me while wearing a shirt repping the Arkansas Wings, the AAU program for which the Lee bros will play this summer.  Photo by Matt McClenahan.
Justin McCleary talks to me while wearing a shirt repping the Arkansas Wings, the AAU program for which the Lee bros will play this summer. Photo by Matt McClenahan.

Some extra tidbits from interviews for my profile of the amazing Lee brothers:

1) Jacksonville’s star senior guard Justin McCleary is considering  offers from Harding, Oauchita Baptist and a couple of junior colleges. UAPB, Henderson State, Arkansas Tech and UA-Fort Smith  are also showing interest. Looks like the Jacksonville-UCA pipeline won’t continue with J-McC.

2) Frederick Lee, the Lee brothers’ father, told me how his family ended up as likely the most dominant basketball family in NWA prep history (along with the Brewers). Out of high school, he moved from Marvell in east Arkansas to Little Rock in the early 1990s. He attended UALR, but was appalled by the violent crime – fueled by the rise of youth gangs – in the surrounding neighborhoods. “Little Rock was horrible,” he said. “I didn’t have a lot of money to stay somewhere nice, so I was right there in the middle of all that.”

When his oldest son, C.J. was born, he knew it was time to move. Lee transferred to the University of Arkansas and soon got a job selling cars in Fayetteville. Seven years ago, he moved the family to Clarksville where he runs a car dealership.

C.J. Lee, who preceded Dederick, Kenderick and Freddy as a Clarksville High basketball star, shortly attended Arkansas Baptist College but has since transferred to Arkansas Tech. He left Little Rock for the same reason his father left UALR, Frederick Lee said.

3) When Dederick Lee decomitted from the Razorbacks, a flood of scholarships offers came his way. He got offers from Southern Illinois, Creighton, Tulane, New Orleans and Missouri State but eventually chose Oral Roberts University (which had also extended offers to his brothers at the same time), Frederick Lee said.

4) The most prestigious youth basketball tournament in the summer has become the Nike Elite Youth Basketball tournament, or EYBL. In its two-year long existence, the Arkanssas Wings have been the only Arkansas team to participate in it.

This AAU program returns this summer, under the same name of the Wings 17-U squad, but in actuality the team will the Nolan Richardson Arkansas Mustangs, the AAU team which Frederick Lee created and through which he has coached his sons since their elementary school. Frederick Lee told me the Wings president Ron Crawford asked him to take the team’s reins for this summer. He knew that the way that we played would be great for the EYBL this year because he didn’t much of a team coming back.”

Lee agreed to come on as the , but only if he could bring aboard his own coaches and players.

So far, the only locks are Freddy, Darren and Kenderick Lee, Clarksville teammate Jerron Thompson, and a couple out of staters. He’ll decide who to promote from last summer’s Wings 16-U at tryouts this weekend.

Lee-ders Of The Pack: Clarksville’s Basketball Brothers

Former Hog commit Dederick Lee and his  brothers have left behind one era at Clarksville High. Could another one be around the corner? Photo by Matt McClenahan.
Former Hog commit Dederick Lee and his brothers have left behind one highly successful era at Clarksville High. Could another one be around the corner? Photo by Matt McClenahan.

One of the most unique chapters in Arkansas sports history closed Saturday night in a half full Pine Bluff Convention Center.

The three-year reign of the Lee brothers is over.

Dederick, Kenderick and Freddy Lee had won two straight 4A basketball state titles and led Clarksville High to consecutive undefeated conference records. It didn’t matter that Dederick, 18 years old, is barely six feet tall and 17-year-old Kenderick and Freddy hover around 5’6″. Or that their adopted brother, Deven Simms, plays inside at 6’3″.

These Davids have not only welcomed the challenge of battling Goliaths, but actually sought them out, slingshots in hand, Nike Air Maxes on foot.

In the last two years, Clarksville has taken on – and typically lost to –  powerhouse programs two or three classifications larger: Hall, Parkview, Jonesboro, Fayetteville and North Little Rock.

These programs are a far cry from the Panthers’ normal Class 4A competition. Or even competition in the 5A, into which Clarksville ascended this season because a recent influx of new students increased the high school’s enrollment ( many of the new students were political refugees from Myanmar).

Clarksville coach Tony Davis knew this season’s reclassification whittled his team’s chances at an unblemished record and a three-peat at the state tournament.

Still, he welcomed the challenge.  “We felt like if we would’ve stayed at 4A, we wouldn’t have been challenged. Last year, we won every game in the state tourney by 20 or more.”

On Saturday night, Jacksonville provided Clarksville with plenty of challenge in the 5A semifinals. The Red Devils, who a year ago played in 6A, beat the Panthers 52-44 to secure a spot in the finals vs. Alma this Friday at 7 p.m. in Barton Coliseum.

Continue reading Lee-ders Of The Pack: Clarksville’s Basketball Brothers

Why Tyler Scaife Ultimately Chose Rutgers over Arkansas, Tennessee, Baylor et al

Latest SLAM issue profiles nation's top-ranked PG out of Little Rock.
Latest SLAM issue profiles nation’s top-ranked PG out of Little Rock.

Franklyn Calle has a nice article in SLAM magazine on the most dominant guard in recent Arkansas basketball history.

He talked to Tyler Scaife, Little Rock High’s McDonald All-American, about why she chose Rutgers over the likes of Tennessee and Baylor. Turns out, Scaife’s favorite player is Cappie Pondexter, the 5-9 Rutgers alum who in 2011 was voted as one of the top 15 players in WNBA history. Scaife, who also stands 5-9, told Calle: “[Rutgers] Coach Stringer does a great job of molding guards and putting them in the WNBA. I felt that Rutgers fit my style of play.”

Scaife will try to finish her high school career in style by bringing Hall a long-awaited title in the state playoffs over the next week and a half. In 2011-12, Scaife averaged 25.2 points, 5.9 rebounds, 5.2 assists and 3.7 steals but Hall finished the season at 23-6 after losing in the 7A state semifinals to Fort Smith Northside. This year, Scaife’s numbers had dropped through early February (24 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 3.8 apg, 3.1 steals and 1 block) but in recent weeks she has ramped up her performance as her team has steamrolled to a 26-2 record and #1 state ranking.

Depending on how Hall finishes this season, Scaife could have a legit argument to be the best female player in state history. As I see it, her main competition for this designation is Shekinna Stricklin, who was a force of nature at Morrilton High 2005-08. Stricklin, like Scaife, won two Gatorade player of the year honors to go along with the McDonald’s All-American honor. Here are some other Stricklin benchmarks Scaife will be measured against:

  • Named all-state and all-conference all four years of her high school career
  • Started in all 120 games played and totaled 2,690 points, 1,400 rebounds, 726 assists, 474 steals and 605 blocked shots
  • Had 45 points, 14 rebounds and eight assists in the 2008 state finals her senior year
  • Parade Magazine All-America Second Team (2008) and Third Team (2007)
  • 2008 USA Today All-USA First Team
  • The 2006 MVP of the Arkansas State AAAA championships after her 30-point, 16-rebound, four-assist and four-block performance in the championship game to lead Morrilton to the title

Check out this month’s issue of SLAM  (Russell Westbrook cover) for the complete Scaife article. 

ADDENDUM

I just got this insight from longtime Arkansas sportswriter Walter Woodie. The man has seen plenty of good ball in his day:

Before you call her the best in the 5-on-5 era, you might want to think about Wendy Schoeltens of FS Southside.
 All-American at Vandy, played in Europe/Asia before WNBA. Also in Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame. Besides Stricklin, do not forget Hot Springs’ Shemeka Christon, who was the SEC Player of the Year at Arkansas.
 
She is in the argument, yes, but not the best. At least, not yet.