DC Basketball

DC Areas Best Ball Players1972


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For those who grew up in the 1960s, it’s hard not to remember the term “generation gap.”   This was the popular, pseudo-scientific term that, when arguing with an adult, always allowed you to reject their line of reasoning.  “You don’t understand me.  We seem to be suffering from a generation gap.”  In many ways, those who attempt to compile lists of the top 50 or 100 basketball players of all time quickly fall into a generation gap.  Their chasm doesn’t stem from differences in generational cultural norms.  It’s a matter of knowledge.  Most list compilers know one or two or generations well, usually their own and the one that immediately preceded them.  But when names pop up from other generations that have now dwindled in numbers or passed on, their shoulders tend to shrug with never-heard-of-him indifference.  To help mend this generation gap and memorialize the names of forgotten greats, D. C. Basketball will occasionally post articles that list the area’s top performers of earlier eras.  Here’s our first article in the series.  It’s from March 1972 and is written by Eddie Crane, a sportswriter with the Washington Evening Star.  He asked a simple question:  Who is the greatest basketball player ever from the Washington, D. C. area?  Although the article starts out slowly, it ends with a series of bangs.  That is, Crane gets answers to his question from the area’s top high school coaches, some of them now passed on. 


Best Basketball Player Ever Produced Here Is . . .

          
  On dull gymnasium floors, on scarred blacktops, down narrow alleys, in weed-filled yards, Washington youngsters play basketball. 
They play in drafty buildings during winter’s chill and outdoors on steamy surfaces during summer’s heat.  They play in the mornings, afternoons, and evenings, and, if the cops don’t chase them away, they play late at night.
Basketball is not a mere game to these youngsters.  It is a religion.  For too many, it is a potential escape route from the ghetto.

Many have escaped to star in college and professional ranks.  Their success is a beacon for every other kid who can run and shoot a little bit.

        
    A GENERATION or so of such concentrated endeavor has earned Washington a reputation as one of the nation’s best talent hotbeds.  Good basketball players emerge in a steady stream that keeps college recruiters and pro scouts perpetually on the lookout around here. 
Any discussion of Washington as a hotbed of basketball talent usually leads to the question:  Who is the best player ever produced here?  Is he a name player or is he a kid who never got beyond the playgrounds?  The Star has conducted an extensive survey of veteran coaches and basketball observers here to name the best player this area has produced.   No surprise.  The clear-cut consensus:  Elgin Baylor.
The former Phelps and Spingarn High star got better and better after he moved away.  An All-American at Seattle University, he then became a perennial All-Pro with the Los Angeles Lakers before repeated knee injuries and operations ended his career early this season.
Other superstars have come close to matching Baylor, notably Austin Carr and Dave Bing.  Still others are no worse than a couple of steps behind:   Jack George, Bobby Lewis, John Thompson, Fred Hetzel, Tom Hoover, to name a few.
Then there are today’s scholastic stars.  DeMatha High’s Morgan Wootten, most successful scholastic coach ever in the area, thinks his own junior Adrian Dantley, might rank second only to Baylor before he’s through.DC Basketball

         
   BING, LIKE, Baylor, a Spingarn product, qualifies with the Detroit Pistons as one of the NBA’s most dangerous scorers.  Carr, hampered by injuries this rookie season, is expected to achieve similar status with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Many other Washington area players made it to the pro leagues with varying degrees of success.  Representatives also include John Austin, John Tresvant (who played only football at Spingarn), Jerry Chambers, Bernie Williams and Roland Taylor.  Another, Earl Lloyd, now is coach of the Pistons.
But there is a sobering thought for such current scholastic aces as Dantley, Merlin Wilson of St. Anthony’s, Buzzy Braman of Springbrook, and sophomore Dave Koesters of West Springfield:  Not all of the playground and scholastic stars make it to college or professional ranks.

         
   WASHINGTON, TOO, has had its share of great ones who never became household names in the NBA or elsewhere.  Remember Willie (Chickenbreast) Lee of Fairmont Heights?  How about Armstrong’s Greeky Watson or Hillary (Cornbread) Watson of Cardozo?
These names turned up, along with the better-known, during the survey by The Star.
The vote for No. 1 as clear:  Baylor.  Bing and Carr drew about the same support for second. 
Anacostia High’s Dave Brown, and Interhigh League coach for 20 years, picks Baylor.  That’s not very surprising, since Brown coached him at Spingarn.  Brown rates Carr second, Bing third, and St. John’s [Jack] George fourth.
“All four were exceptional,” Brown said.  “They could do it all:  Shoot, rebound, pass, and play defense.  Today we have a lot of shooters, but many of them can’t play defense.”
William Roundtree, now the principal at Coolidge, coached Spingarn teams to 11 championships.  Bing was his once-in-a-lifetime guy, but others were almost as good.

        
    “DAVE DEVELOPED his basic skills and became a natural leader,” Roundtree said, “but we had some other great ones such as Oliver Johnson and Bernard Levi.  Johnson was a No. 1 draft choice of the Boston Celtic.  Levi could have reached great heights but didn’t get the chance some of the others did.”
Paul Furlong, long-time Mackin coach, agrees that Baylor and Bing belong in the top three.  However, he rates his own star, Carr, as No. 1.
“I think Baylor was the best rebounder and Bing the best ballhandler, but Austin was the best all-around.”  Furlong said, “If you’re talking just about offensive skills, Jim McBride (an All-Met at both DeMatha and Dunbar) was the best I ever saw.”
DeMatha Coach Wootten rates Baylor as a clear No. 1 choice and several of the others as equally skilled.  “You could put Bing, Carr, Lewis, and Austin (of DeMatha) in a hat, shake them up, and list them as they fall out,” Wootten said.  “They were all great.”
Hymie Perlo, who starred fro Roosevelt in the early 1940s, casts another vote for the Baylor-Bing-Carr triumvirate as tops.  “We had a lot of great ones in the old days:  Bob Custer and Russ Lombardy at Eastern and Joe Gallagher and Jim Giebel at St. John’s, to name a few, but none could touch the top three.”

          
  FRANK BOLDEN, who coached for 13 years at Cardozo, before becoming Interhigh athletic supervisor, cites Baylor as tops.  He also mentions Lew Luce, who made Wilson a power in the early 1950s.
Genuine old-timers remember stars of the days when the ball had laces and centers jumped after each basket.  They recall Forrest Burgess and James Lemon at Central when that long-defunct school won the national schoolboy title.  They speak of Bernie Lieb at Eastern, Herb and Jim Thompson at Western and Bill Werber and Bozie Berger at McKinley Tech, among others.
But those days seem as far away to modern fans as Dr. Naismith and his peach basket.  The old game doesn’t compare with today’s brand.  Neither do the players.

 

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2000 Points Club: Archie Talley, Salem 3720 Jack Sullivan, Mount Saint Mary 2672, Dave Robinson, Navy 2669, Austin Carr, Notre Dame 2560, Johnny Dawkins, Duke 2556, Jeff Covington, Youngstown State 2424, Carlos Yates, George Mason 2420, Gene Littles,High Point College 2398, Lawrence Moten, Syracuse 2334, Chris McGuthrie. Mount Saint Mary 2297, Greg Saunders, St Bonnies 2238, Louis Bullock, Michigan 2224 Adrian Dantley, Notre Dame 2223, Kenny Saunders, George Mason 2177, Randolph Childress, Wake Forest 2208, Keith Herron, Villanova 2170, Danny Ferry, Duke 2156, Len Bias, Maryland, 2149, Dennis Scott, Georgia Tech 2115, David Hawkins, Temple 2077, Sherman Douglas, Syrcuse 2060, Fred Hentzel, Davidson 2032, Adrian Branch, Maryland 2017 50 Points Club: Archie Talley / Salem College / 11 times / 4 TIMES IN ONE WEEK, Austin Carr/ Notre Dame / 9 times, Elgin Baylor / Seattle / 2 times, Danny Ferry / Duke / 58/ 1time, Will Jones / American University 54 / 1 time, Fred Hetzel / Davidson / 53/ 1 time, Dave Robinson / Navy/ 50 /1time, Jack Sullivan / Mount St.Marys / 50 / 2 times, Jack Sullivan / Mount St.Marys / 40 / 6 times 40 Points Club: Austin Carr / Notre Dame / 23 times, Archie Talley / Salem College / 20 times, Elgin Baylor / Seattle College / 4 times, John Austin / Boston College / 4 times, Fred Hetzel / Davidson College / 4 times, Dave Robinson / Navy / 4 times, Dave Bing / Syracuse / 3 times, Michael Beasley / Kansas State / 3 times, Adrian Dantley / Notre Dame / 3 times, Kenny Carr / Nc State / 3times, Jerry Chambers / Utah / 3 times, Will Jones / American U./ 2 times, Greg Sanders / St Bonnies / 2 times, Bob Lewis / North Carolina /2 times, Scottie Reynolds / Villanova / 2 times, Danny Ferry / Duke / 1 time, Bob Whitmore / Notre Dame / 1 time, Collis Jones / Notre Dame / 1 time, Jeff Covington / Youngstown State / 1 time, Randolph Childress / Wake Forest / 1 time, Ronnie Hogue / Georgia / 1 time, Eugene Oliver / South Alabama / 1 time, Carlos Yates / George Mason / 1 time, Monte Williams / Norte Dame / 1 time, Hawkeye Whitney / Nc. State / 1 time, Lenny Bias / Maryland U / 1 time, David Hawkins / Temple / 1 time, Kermit Washington / American / 1 time, Skeeter Swift / East Tenn.State / 1 time NBA Rookie of Year: Elgin Baylor- Spingarn, Dave Bing- Spingarn, Adrian Dantley- DeMatha, Dave Robinson- Woodbridge, Grant Hill- South Lake, Steve Francis-, Kevin Durant- Montrose Christian NBA Hall Of Fame: Earl Lloyd, Dallas Shirley, Elgin Baylor, Dave Bing, Morgan Wooten, John Thompson Sr., Adrian Dantley Assist Club: Sherman Douglas - Syracuse U. / 22 assist, Kelvin Scarborough - New Mexico / 21 assists, Grayson Marshall - Clemson U. / 20 assists, Jan Panell - Oklahoma U. / 18 assists, Sidney Lowe - N.C. State / 18 assists, Brian Ellerbe - Rutgers U. / 16 assists, Charlie Smith - Georgetown U. / 16 assists, Jay Gallagher - Mount St. Mary’s / 15 assists, Penny Greene - U. of South Florida / 15 assists, Moochie Norris - West Florida / 15 assists, Harold Fox - Jacksonville U. / 14 assists, Stan Washington - San Diego / 14 assists, Toney Ellis - Colorado / 13 assists, Cricket Williams - Jacksonville U. / 13 assists, Michael Jackson - Georgetown / 13 assists, John Duren - Georgetown / 13 assists, Steve Francis - Maryland / 13 assists, Eddie Jordan - Rutgers / 13 assists, Tom Amaker - Duke / 13 assists
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