It's WAND's "All-Time 5"! Which local high school has the best all-time, all-star lineup of basketball players from any era, together on one court in a tournament of 33 teams? Tune in every Wednesday at 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. through March 18 as Gordon Voit announces a new group of seeds in the bracket!
53 pages. 12,000 words (and counting). Countless conversations, messages, box scores, All-State lists and school records. Now that Gordon Voit's research packet has been compiled, we begin the fun. (Quick reminder: It's not who was the best player in high school, or who had the best stats. It's which player (at his peak) would help the team stay competitive against the Lanphiers and Lincolns of the tournament who have All-Americans up and down the lineup.)
NUMBER 19: MATTOON GREEN WAVE
(5) Mattoon vs. (4) TBA
G - Steve Spitz (Loyola N.O. basketball, LSU baseball) 6-2, IBCA Hall of Fame, 3rd points 1,243, natural athlete who transferred to LSU to play baseball after LU dropped athletics
G - Willie High (Eastern Illinois football) 6-1, 2nd points 1,285 MHS, 3x First Team All-Gateway Conference 1993-95, 2x 1,400-yard seasons; Class of 1991
G/F – Kevin Trimble (Illinois FB/BSB) 6-4, 1st points MHS 1,402; athletic marvel; 15 ppg, 5.8 rpg senior year; Was thought that basketball was his third-best sport; Class of 1994
SF - Chris Hollender (Evansville) 6-6, 17-7-3 best year at UI, 20.6 ppg senior MHS, 1994 JGTC POY
C - Jeff Furry (Eastern Illinois) 6-8, 220 lbs, 1,146 pts EIU 23rd; 15-7 senior EIU; 25.7 ppg senior MHS; IBCA HOF; Chicago Daily News First Team All-State; Class of 1972
G - Bob McDowell (Eastern Illinois) 3rd Team All-State senior, Led Big 12 in scoring, MHS HOF, 873 points, 480 in one season, made Sweet 16 2x, Passed up scholarships from Kansas, New Mexico and Indiana State; Class of 1956
C - Dick Ping (Murray State) 6-6, All-American, All-State, 20 ppg senior, skilled big man; MHS HOF; 1 year MSU; Class of 1958
F - Myles Jerdan (Northwestern) 6-5, 3-4 best year NU, 1,148 points MHS; All-State; Class of 1967
C – Neil Piller (Yale) 6-6, high jumped 6-5; Three varsity letters Yale; Class of 1964
Bill Tate (Illinois football) 1,084 points
PF - Rob Pinnell (Eastern Illinois) 6-7, 1,063 points at EIU 35th; 14-8 at EIU, .540 FG% senior; Class of 1971
G - Greg Browne (Eastern Illinois) 6-2, All-American, All-State, All-Big 12; 1,021 points; Class of 1970
G - Mark Aguilar, 4th points 1,169, All-Big 12; Class of 1991
Doug Thompson, 1,078 points, MHS HOF, All-Conference in three sports; Class of 1982
G - Mike Dow (Lake Land) 6-2, 1,051 points, All-Big 12; Class of 1978
G - Chris Wetzel, 5-10, 1,034 points; 20 ppg senior MHS; Broke 3-point record (91 in one season); 45 in a game against Urbana; Class of 1991
F – Mark Fitt (Alaska-Anchorage) 6-8, 15-8 at UAA; All-Big 12; MHS HOF; 17-10 senior MHS; Class of 1978
SG – Drake Jeffries (Indian Hills CC, D1 offers) 6-5; Athletic wing who will continue career at D1 level next season, Still writing his story; Class of 2017
G - Bryan Smith, 6-1, 19 ppg senior, 828 points, 1985 All-Conference
F - Charlie Authenrieth, 6-1, 1941 Sweet 16 team, MHS HOF; Class of 1942
C – Omer Macy, 6-4, first district title in MHS history (1932)
C – Chris Salak (SIU-Edwardsville) 6-10, All-Big 12 senior year; Class of 2001
G - Nathan Meinhart, First Team All-Big 12 2003 with 12.4 ppg
G/F - Jack Raboin (w/o Saint Louis) 6-6 shooter; Class of 2015
G - Jadyn Princko 2nd team all-Apollo 2010s
G – Jaydon Noe 2nd team all-Apollo 2010s
Referee: Jim Bain, FIBA HOF, IBCA HOF
F - Kurt Stretch (SW Baptist) 6-0, All-Big 12, 15 ppg senior MHS; 1970s
Grant Fleenor, 1941 Sweet 16 team
Jake Seipert, 1941 Sweet 16 team
Joe Horton, 1941 Sweet 16 team
Bob Bennett, 1941 Sweet 16 team
Mark Wagner (Eastern Illinois golf and basketball) First to score 400 in one season (1951); Class of 1951
G - Lester Brady (Eastern Illinois), 2x Final 32; Class of 1942
F - Dick Smith, 5-11, 444 points in 28 games senior at MHS; Class of 1953
Dick McDonald, 404 points in 1952
Jack Timmons (Butler track) 220 points his senior year was Big 12 record; MHS HOF; Class of 1940
(Did we miss a player? Email firstname.lastname@example.org so we can update the roster! Thanks for your help in making this special project complete. If you submit a name for consideration, please remember to include height, position, graduation year, college destination as well as a list of accolades. Please also remember that this is a fun hypothetical basketball project.)
Overview: Any team with Kevin Trimble becomes appointment viewing. In terms of raw, natural gifts, he's among the best athletes to ever come from Central Illinois. In terms of basketball pedigree and accolades Hollender is the GOAT -- 17 points per game and was a bona fide star in the Missouri Valley who now coaches at Missouri. Many casual fans will be surprised by the wealth of big men that the Green Wave have, particularly off the bench.
Upside of roster: Size: check. Athleticism: check. Statistical production at the college level: check. High school level: check. Depth: check. Eight decades of history to draw from: check. This is one sturdy team. In fact, the second unit would probably be a 7 or 8 seed. No hyperbole.
Downside of roster: It's always helpful to have multiple players who averaged double figures at the high-Division-I level and one critique of this team is that it technically has zero players who fit that bill. With that said, it has just about everything else you could ask for: A midmajor star (Hollender), Hall of Fame-type D2 players (back before EIU was D1), D1 contributors who were stars at MHS, multiple players who the local newspaper deemed "All-Americans", and others that turned down higher-level offers to go to EIU, such as McDowell or Furry.
Highlights of bench: If you rolled out G Bob McDowell (Eastern Illinois), G Greg Browne (Eastern Illinois), F Myler Jerdan (Northwestern), C Neil Piller (Yale) and C Dick Ping (Murray State) with 6-7 F Rob Pinnell (Eastern Illinois) and 6-8 F Mark Fitt (Alaska-Anchorage) rotating in with some of the 1940s heyday stars you would have a team in the Top 33 of All-Time 5. Probably as a 7 or 8 seed. That's incredible. Most other programs can't claim to have such depth.
Best season: The formats of State in 1941, 1969 and present day are radically different but the 1941 squad made the Sweet 16 when it was one class, while the 1969 team was the last to win a sectional crown.
Enrollment: 1043 (2020)
GOAT: Chris Hollender is the most accomplished player in school history. He proved that his 20+ points per game at MHS was no fluke and had almost as much production at Evansville. Good size at 6-foot-6, great touch, and a mind for the game. He now is an assistant at Missouri.
Music: Surf's up! Rolling with the Green Wave.
Controversial decision: As discussed in the bench analysis portion, any of those seven players had an argument to be in the Top 5. Someone's gotta come off the bench! This will be a lineup where 10 players get 15+ minutes per game. That sort of thing. Waves and waves of talent. (DoyouseewhatIdidthere.)
ALL-TIME 5 OVERVIEW
WHAT: A competition to see who has the best all-time all-star squad of any high school basketball program in the 217 area code.
WHEN: February 5 - March 18 (Phase 1)
March 18 until the NCAA Final Four in April (Phase 2)
HOW: Gordon Voit will release four more teams every single Wednesday night, two during the 6 p.m. show and two during the 10 p.m. show. This is Phase 1. Phase 2 consists of a bracket challenge pitting the teams against each other in a simulated tournament.
RELEASING THE TEAMS
February 5: The 8 seeds
No. 33: Mt. Pulaski (Play-in game)
No. 32: Okaw Valley (Bethany-Findlay) (Play-in game)
February 12: The 7 seeds
February 19: The 6 seeds
February 26: The 5 seeds
No. 19: Mattoon
No. 18: Sacred Heart-Griffin
No. 17: Taylorville
March 4: The 4 seeds
No. 16: TBA (6 p.m. show)
No. 15: TBA (6 p.m. show)
No. 14: TBA (10 p.m. show)
No. 13: TBA (10 p.m. show)