Joe Henricksen of City/Suburban Hoops Report selected his starting lineup from the leading performers of the 2009-10 season--How could he have Champaign Centennial's Rayvonte Rice coming off the bench?--and suggested that I should pick an all-time starting five, the best of the last 50 years, position by position, not necessarily the five best players.
Henricksen explained his rationale for leaving Rice off his starting lineup. He was picking a team position-by-position, a good blend of size and quickness and talent, and he felt Rice would be dynamite in a John Havlicek, sixth-man role. Maybe so. But I like the 6-3, 225-pound Rice on the floor from start to finish, beating up on opponents.
"Rice is a man among boys, very strong, a great shooter, a good rebounder. His will to win is unbelievable. He has a knack for making plays when they count," Lincoln coach Neil Alexander said. "He reminds me of Charles Barkley, so dominant."
Somehow, Henricksen's team of point guard Fabyon Harris of Hyde Park, shooting guard Mike McCall of Foreman, center Jereme Richmond of Waukegan, small forward Duje Dukan of Deerfield and power forward Jermaine Winfield of North Lawndale doesn't excite me.
If that's the most dynamic lineup you can put on the floor, 2009-10 must not be a very good year for talent in Illinois.
How about 1998? Point guard Frank Williams, shooting guard Quentin Richardson, center Leon Smith, small forward Corey Maggette and power forward Joey Range. With Sean Harrington, Ty Moss, Kevin Frey, Lucas Johnson, Imari Sawyer and Damir Krupalija coming off the bench.
Or 1979, often recognized as the best senior class of all? Point guard Isiah Thomas, shooting guard Darrell Walker, center Terry Cummings, small forward Teddy Grubbs and power forward Darryl Allen. With Doc Rivers, Jeff Baker, Raymond McCoy, Mike Lang and Kevin Bontemps in reserve.
Or 1966? Point guard LaMarr Thomas, shooting guard Greg Starrick, center Dan Issel, small forward Rich Yunkus and power forward Rich Bradshaw. With Dale Kelley, Joe Wiley, Mel Reddick and Jim Ard coming off the bench.
My all-time starting five? The best five players, by position, that I have seen since I began watching high school basketball in Illinois in 1952?
Point guard Isiah Thomas, shooting guard Jon Scheyer, center Russell Cross, small forward Cazzie Russell and power forward Kevin Garnett. With Derrick Rose, Quinn Buckner, Rickey Green, Jamie Brandon, Jay Shidler, Doc Rivers, Mark Aguirre, George Wilson, Tom Parker and Tommy Hawkins coming off the bench.