By Joe Henricksen
There were no shortage of quality candidates for the Mr. Basketball Award this past season. Although my Mr. Basketball ballot I submitted had Naperville Central's Drew Crawford on the top, with Warren's Brandon Paul and Waukegan's Jereme Richmond on the next two lines, Paul is more than deserving. You couldn't go wrong with any of the top three candidates. Paul had a terrific year and has an even brighter future as his talents have not been totally tapped into. His upside is just huge.
The reasons Crawford was named the City/Suburban Hoops Report's Player of the Year were documented in a previous blog entry, but it was great to see Crawford recognized and receive the amount of votes that he did get, including 20 first-place votes, to finish third in overall voting.
With the 2009 award in the books, the Hoops Report is going to take a look at the 29-year history of the Mr. Basketball Award and rank the winners in two different categories. And before anyone comments, the Mr. Basketball Award began after the likes of Quinn Buckner and Isiah Thomas played.
The first category is listing the top 12 Mr. Basketball Award winners that had the best post-high school careers, those who put together the best college and pro careers. The second list is ranking the top 12 Mr. Basketball Award winners in order of just their overall high school careers and their impact and dominance at the prep level. Have a little fun in discussing and debating.
BEST POST-HIGH SCHOOL CAREERS
1. Kevin Garnett, Farragut (1995). A no-brainer with the top spot. KG skipped college and has gone on to become one of best NBA players of his generation, including a perennial NBA all-star and winning a NBA championship with the Boston Celtics.
2. Nick Anderson, Simeon (1986). The Simeon product became a star at Illinois, helping the Fighting Illini to the Final Four. Anderson was a first-round NBA draft pick following his junior year. He averaged 14.4 points a game during a solid 13-year NBA career.
3. Derrick Rose, Simeon (2007). Check back in five or six years and the Simeon grad may be at the top of the list. In one year at Memphis he led his team to the NCAA title game. Now he's a favorite for NBA Rookie of the Year and a future all-star in the league.
4. Eddy Curry, Thornwood (2001). The former No. 4 pick in the NBA Draft by the Chicago Bulls has not lived up to expectations, but he has already played eight years in the NBA, averaged over 13 points and five rebounds a game in his career, and has a huge contract under his belt.
5. Brian Cook, Lincoln (1999). The former Big Ten MVP finished with 1,748 career points (4th all time in school history) and 100 victories while playing at Illinois. He is now a NBA veteran and role player having played six years with the Lakers, Magic and Rockets.
6. Julian Wright, Homewood-Flossmoor (2005). Played just two years at Kansas, averaging 10.4 points and 6.3 rebounds a game and earning All-Big 12 First Team honors his sophomore year. He was a first-round NBA Draft pick and is currently in his second season with the New Orleans Hornets. Wright is young and talented enough to move up this list as his NBA career evolves.
7. Shaun Livingston, Peoria Central (2004). He became the fourth Illinois Mr. Basketball Award winner to jump directly to the NBA out of high school as he was a lottery pick a month after graduation. The verdict is still out as to how big of a career he will have in the NBA. The 6-7 point guard was just signed by the Oklahoma City Thunder and hasn't been the same since a devastating knee injury.
8. Deon Thomas, Simeon (1989). He is the all-time leading scorer in University of Illinois history. He was drafted No. 28 by the Dallas Mavericks out of college but instead became one of the most successful American pros of all time in the European leagues. Maybe he hasn't had the notoriety, but he certainly has had a solid, lengthy career playing professional basketball.
9. Darius Miles, East St. Louis Sr. (2000). There could be some debate as to where Miles fits on this list. He skipped college and made the jump to the NBA following his prep career when he was a first-round NBA draft pick by the Los Angeles Clippers. His career has stalled with injuries and off-the-court issues after averaging over double figures the first six years of his NBA career while playing with the Clippers, Cavaliers and Trailblazers.
10. Dee Brown, Proviso East (2002). He became a Fighting Illini legend and fan favorite in his four years in Champaign. Brown finished his career third on the all-time scoring list and helped the Illini to the 2005 Final Four and national championship game. He has had a couple of cups of coffee in the NBA and is now playing overseas.
BEST PREP CAREERS
1. Jamie Brandon, King (1990). All-Everything and dominating prep player while at King. He scored a whopping 3,157 points in his career, which is third all time in state history. His teams finished second in the state his freshman season, third in the state as a junior and won a state title as a senior when the Jaguars went a perfect 32-0.
2. Derrick Rose, Simeon (2007). There wasn't much Rose didn't do during his prep career, including leading the Wolverines to back-to-back state championships. In three years of varsity play his teams went 95-11 while he was considered one of the top five prep players in the country.
3. Jon Scheyer, Glenbrook North (2006). Scheyer may not ever crack the first list, but as a high school player he was phenomenal. A legendary high school career, which included three trips to the Elite Eight in his four years. He led his team to a state title as a junior and finished his career as the state's fourth all-time leading scorer with 3,034 points. Scheyer poured in 48 points in a supersectional win in 2005.
4. Marcus Liberty, King (1987). Was considered by some to be the No. 1 high school player in the country. As a junior he led the Jaguars to a state title and a state runner-up finish his senior year. In four memorable state tournament games in 1987, Liberty scored 41, 23, 38 and 41 as he set the state tournament scoring record.
5. Bruce Douglas, Quincy (1982). Well before the internet, AAU basketball and all the hype surrounding prep stars, Douglas was one of the most storied basketball players in state history. In four varsity seasons he scored over 2,000 career points and his teams went an amazing 123-5. The Parade All-American was part of a state championship his junior year, a state runner-up as a freshman and a third-place finish his senior year when Quincy's 64-game win streak was snapped.
6. Shaun Livingston, Peoria Central (2004). He didn't put up huge numbers (18 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 5.5 apg his senior year), but he was the ultimate versatile talent and winner. He led the Lions to back-to-back state championships his junior and senior year, while capping his career as a McDonald's All-American.
7. Kevin Garnett, Farragut (1995). Yes, he played just one season at Farragut, but the 6-11 phenom led Farragut to the Elite Eight and averaged 25.2 points, 17.9 rebounds, 6.7 assists and 6.5 blocks while shooting 66 percent from the field. The fanfare and media coverage that followed him and his Farragut team was something we hadn't seen. A month after graduating he was a first-round NBA draft pick.
8.Marty Simmons, Lawrenceville (1983). There aren't many players who had a more decorated high school career. Simmons is one of the state's all-time leading scorers with 2,986 points. He was part of a Lawrenceville team that won a state record 68 consecutive games and won back-to-back Class A state championships.
9. Rashard Griffith, King (1993). The legend of Griffith began as a 14-year-old at Marcus Garvey elementary school on Chicago's South Side. That's when he was a 6-10 8th grader and being called the next Lew Alcindor. Griffith and his King teams were dominating in high school. The 7-footer played four varsity seasons, put up monster numbers his junior and senior years, and his teams were an amazing 115-4 in those four years, including two unbeaten state championships.
10. Ronnie Fields, Farragut (1996). The greatest dunker in state history. Whether it's accurate or not, it's believed that Fields had 372 dunks in his high school career. The Parade and McDonald's All-American with the 50-inch vertical jump scored 2,619 career points and teamed with Kevin Garnett his junior year on a team that reached the Elite Eight.
Missing the cut....
Eddy Curry, Thornwood (2001)
Frank Williams, Peoria Manual (1998)
Sergio McClain, Peoria Manual (1997)
Eric Anderson, St. Francis De Sales (1988)
Ed Horton, Springfield Lanphier (1985)