The Proviso West Holiday Tournament will celebrate its 50th anniversary in December and officials of the state's premier high school basketball event, including coordinator Joe Spagnolo, plan to recognize the 50 greatest players in its history.
Ten years ago, for its 40th anniversary, Proviso West selected the 40 most influential people in tournament history. The list included players, coaches, administrators and media.
The 50th anniversary will be reserved for players only, the top 50. It figures that 29 spots already have been taken, awarded to 29 players who were chosen on the original top 40 list. How could one of the original inductees be left out of the 50-year celebration? And how could someone who didn't make the original list supplant someone who did?
As a member of the selection committee, I have some thoughts about the final 21 selections. It is interesting to note, for example, that some players who achieved some of the "best performances" in tournament history failed to make the all-tournament team.
I would argue that a player shouldn't be considered for the all-time team if he didn't make the all-tournament team. And anyone who was a two-time all-tournament choice certainly is worthy of a top 50 spot. Remember, we're talking performance at the Proviso West tournament only, not future stardom in college or the NBA. At least, in my view, that should be the criteria for selection.
The 29 players who were named to the "40 Most Influential" list and, in my judgment, deserve to be named to the top 50 are Mark Aguirre, Cedrick Banks, Donnie Boyce, Neil Bresnahan, Jim Brewer, Owen Brown, Randy Brown, Levi Cobb, Ronnie Fields, Michael Finley, Sherrell Ford, Tony Freeman, Kevin Garnett, Kiwane Garris, Hersey Hawkins, Jeff Hornacek, Juwan Howard, Rick Howat, Michael Ingram, Bob Lackey, Marcus Liberty, Corey Maggette, Townsend Orr, Joe Ponsetto, Glenn Rivers, Isiah Thomas, Marcus Washington, Efrem Winters and Michael Wright.
The other 21? My votes go to Dee Brown, Kenny Davis, Tracy Dildy, Kevin Dillard, Michael Hermon, Bernard Jackson, Tom Kondla, Lee Lampley, Matt Lottich, Demetri McCamey, Steve McCuiston, Juvon McGarry, Jarel McNeal, Al Nuness, Levertis Robinson, Jon Scheyer, Don Strumillo, Daryl Thomas, Evan Turner, Alonzo Verge and Parker Wellington.
That leaves out such outstanding players as Maurice Acker, Martell Bailey, Shannon Brown, Deryl Cunningham, Damion Dantzler, Terry Drake, Carl Hayes, Steve Hunter, Jacob Pullen, Bernard Randolph, Leon Smith, Awvee Storey and Ricky Wilson.
Undoubtedly, Shannon Brown is the biggest oversight. He was the tournament's leading scorer as a senior and was Illinois' Mr. Basketball in 2003. He played on Michigan State's Final Four team in 2005 and currently is playing with the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA. My argument is Brown had only one difference-making tournament at Proviso West while the others contributed more.