Periodically, StudentSportsBasketball.com will take a look at happenings in the world of high school basketball dating back five, 10, 15, 20, 25 years ago and beyond! Today, we take a peek back at big news in December of 2003, 1998 and 1978.
Ten Years Ago (December 2003)
Grid-Hoop Studs Include Standout NFL DB – Student Sports Magazine honored some of the nation’s best football-basketball combo athletes on its annual Grid-Hoop All-American team. As is the case with the majority of these annual honors squads, most of the student-athletes honored had dreams of playing in the NBA but eventually figured out football was their meal ticket. Two of the names that stood out on the first five team were Elite 11 quarterback Cornelius Ingram of Hawthorne (Hawthorne, Fla.) and Dwayne Jarrett of New Brunswick (New Brunswick, N.J.). Ingram eventually move to tight end and helped the Florida Gators capture the 2006 BCS national crown. Jarrett was twice a consensus All-American receiver at USC. The second five included Darelle Revis of Aliquippa (Aliquippa, Pa.), who went on to become of the NFL’s finest cornerbacks of recent memory. The quick guard averaged 24.5 points as a junior, leading the WPIAL, and was a first team all-state selection.
Vegas Hoop Tournament Director Investigated — The nation’s largest holiday invitational boys basketball tournament, the Las Vegas Holiday Prep Classic, was cancelled as an investigation began into the tournament’s finances handled by long-time director Larry McKay. An audit reportedly discovered irregularities in tournament records, vouchers, and invoices. The tournament, which began under McKay’s leadership in 1977, was never the same. A version of it (scaled back from 96 teams to eight and renamed the Las Vegas Winter Invitational) continued but Las Vegas was no longer the premier winter destination after the unfortunate incident. In its heyday, the Las Vegas Holiday Prep Classic attracted some of the nation’s best teams and some of the event’s winners — such as 1980 Inglewood (Inglewood, Calif.), 1982 Calvert Hall (Towson, Md.) and 1993 Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.) — used it as a springboard to a mythical national championship season.
Fifteen Years Ago (December 1998)
NBA Lockout Helps College Game — The NBA lockout shelved some regular season NBA games and it helped the college and high school game. Network television ratings for college basketball were up 62 percent compared to December of 1997 and ticket sales also increased. The lockout ended January 20, 1999 as the NBA regular season was reduced to 50 games. The lockout put more emphasis on the college game and helped the general public become more aware of high school stars as it craved its winter basketball fix. Some fans were turned off by the perceived money grubbing of pro basketball’s owners and players. The lockout, however, didn’t stop some high school players who obviously weren’t ready for pro basketball from declaring for the NBA Draft.
All-Kentucky Final At City of Palms — Scott County (Georgetown, Ky.) defeated Ballard (Louisville, Ky.) 111-91 in the finals of the Nations Bank City of Palms Classic in Ft. Myers, Fla. Junior Scott Hundley led the way with 25 points in the title game, but it was Scott County teammate Rick Jones that was named tourney MVP. One player who dominated in the two games his team played — and lost — was 1998-1999 Student Sports first team All-American forward Donnell Harvey (Randolph Clay, Ga.). Because his team played only two games Harvey was left off the all-tournament team. Scott County upset Central (Little Rock, Ark.) in its semifinal and Ballard knocked off Coolidge (Washington, D.C.) 80-67 in the other semi. Central was loaded with D1 prospects including future NBA forward Joe Johnson.
Thirsty-Five Years Ago (December 1978)
Preseason Powerhouse — Starting out the boys basketball season as the nation’s No. 1-ranked team was DeMatha Catholic (Hyattsville, Md.) The Stags were led by a strong backcourt as well as the mentoring of head coach Morgan Wooten, who already at that point had earned three mythical national titles (1962, 1965, and 1978). The 1978 club went 27-0 and three All-American candidates returned in the form of 6-6 Percy White and the backcourt of Derek Whittenburg (6-0) and Sidney Lowe (6-0). The Stags finished the 1978-79 season 25-3 and ranked No. 12 in the Basketball Weekly final poll. Whittenburg and Lowe made up the same backcourt that led North Carolina State to the 1983 NCAA title. Wooten nearly left DeMatha to take the North Carolina State head coaching job following the 1979-1980 season, but ultimately decided to stay within the high school ranks until his retirement following the 2001-02 season.