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 [evaluated 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 12: EFFINGHAM FLAMING HEARTS
(3) Effingham vs. (6) TBA
PG - Roger Arnold (Minnesota) 6-1; All-State; 1968 Area POY, 2x Sweet 16 appearances EHS; Bit role at UM; Leader of team that was No. 1 in state polls; Class of 1968
SG - Mitch Arnold (Fresno State) 6-4, 15-5-4-2 senior year CSF; 2,046 points EHS; 2x Area POY 1979 and 1980, 115 points was most by 42 (!) at State in 1980 and was record; Best season in EHS history (821 points 1980, also 751 in 1979); Two trips to NCAA Tournament and won the NIT with Fresno State in 1983; Class of 1980
SG – Landon Wolfe (Minnesota State) 6-4, All-time leading scorer 2,126 points, two of five highest point totals in a season
C - Uwe Blab (Indiana, NBA) 7-2, 17th pick in 1985 NBA Draft, helped Indiana to Elite 8; 1980 team was 2nd at State, 1,304 points EHS; 791 points at EHS in 1981 was 3rd in school history; Class of 1981
C - Chris Weisheit (Maryland) 7-2, Signed with Terrapins but Marfan Syndrome (weakening of aorta) forced him to retire; 20 ppg senior year EHS; Native of Germany; Class of 1985
F – Dale Grupe (Air Force) 6-4, 5 ppg AFA; Class of 1980
PF - Ryan Grant (Saint Louis) 6-8 ,T-4th points 1,623; 20 ppg, 12 rpg senior EHS; HM All-State; 5-2 freshman year SLU; Class of 1991
PF - Pat Fitzsimmons (Minnesota) 6-6; 3rd points 1,700; Bit role at UM; HM All-State 1966 (10-15 player range in state); Class of 1966
G - Grant Wolfe (Illinois Wesleyan) 5-11; 2x All-State; T-4th points 1,623
G – Parker Wolfe (Current) 5-9, 1,181 points entering senior season
G – Jim Jansen (UNLV) 5-10, pioneer of UNLV (“Nevada Southern”), 13 ppg; Class of 1958
Tom Fish 1,338 points 6th
F – Leighton Lark (Millikin) 6-5
G - Cody McCollum (Parkland) 6-2; 1,199 points
F - Nathan Kreke (SIU-Edwardsville) 1,127 points EHS; Class of 1998
F - Gale Lister (SIU freshman team) 6-4, 1,012 points, 16 ppg; 2x Sweet 16; Class of 1968
PG - Steve Klosterman, 6-3, Broke assist record (199) in 1968; 2x Sweet 16; 10 ppg senior EHS; Class of 1968
Jack Jansen (Lake Land) 975 points; Class of 1984
Chuck White 1,164 points; Class of 1975
Roger Dettro (Eastern Illinois) 2nd Team All-Conference 1952; 970 points, Class of 1949
Kent Goeckner, 835 points EHS; Class of 1982
G – Ted Gardewine (Lake Land) Class of 1985
(Did we miss a player? Email email@example.com 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: A lineup of two skilled 7-foot-2 posts who signed to play at elite college programs. (How do you guard that?) That already vaults this team high. But there’s so much more. Hyperversatile G/F Mitch Arnold is the total package and one of the best guards in All-Time 5: 2,000 points in high school, 15 points a game at the D1 level (Fresno State), 6-4 size, rare two-time Area Player of the Year, passed and rebounded well. Then you have Minnesota G Roger Arnold who led the legendary 1968 team that rose to No. 1 in the statewide poll. At the fifth spot you’ve got the No. 1 scorer in program history, 6-4 G Landon Wolfe (2,126 points). The bench is deep as well, as you’ll see below.
Upside of roster: Let’s work backwards instead of talking about attributes and then team success. This program reached No. 1 in the State in 1968 (one class!), and then nearly matched that with two elite seasons in 1980 and 1981 (two classes). Those teams were better than the best from Chicago, Metro East, Peoria, etc. etc. etc. That’s an incredible feat for a town that straddles 12,000 people. You don’t get to that level without elite players, and this team has D1 players coming out of its ears, from the Twin Towers to the Arnolds to Ryan Grant (SLU), Pat Fitzsimmons (Minnesota), Jim Jansen (UNLV), Dale Grupe (Air Force) and many other players at the D2 level and below. This is a big boy roster. Nothing “small town” about it.
Downside of roster: Speed? I mean you really have to nitpick to find a weakness in this roster. Ball handling isn’t necessarily a strength in the starting lineup, I suppose you can start there. However, players on the bench can help in this regard. Jim Jansen was a speedy guard who helped get UNLV (then “Nevada Southern”) off and running as a program, literally. Steve Klosterman was a master distributor on the 1968 team and broke the assists record.
Highlights of bench: Say Blab and Weisheit never come to the States. Fine. This team still has really good size thanks to 6-6 Pat Fitzsimmons (Minnesota) and 6-8 Ryan Grant (SLU) plus Dale Grupe who was an integral part of the 1980 team and made it to Air Force. A lot of really accomplished high school players to choose from off the bench.
Best season: The 1968 team was perhaps more notorious statewide at the time (No. 1 at end of regular season AP Poll vs. No. 2), but the 1980 team had more firepower and finished higher (2nd) in the tournament. The 1980 Hearts were edged by a stacked Manley team from Chicago in the state championship game.
Enrollment: 726 (2020)
GOAT: What Mitch Arnold did in 1980 was special. I get that he had a 7-2 post to take pressure off of him, but the man was a weapon. His 115-point State tournament will go down in history as one of the best of all time. His 15 points a game his best year at Fresno State is proof that he was no high school fluke. Baller. But Uwe Blab is the only Heart to make it to the NBA, so they'll split this honor.
Music: German 1980s pop. Effingham County is proud of its German roots, and Blab/Weisheit give that heritage a modern chapter.
Controversial decision: Does Weisheit belong in the starting lineup? I don’t factor in amount of seasons — so that’s not really a debate to me to put Weisheit in this lineup, at least to start the game. (Weisheit played one year at EHS.) As I’ve said in previous articles, each lineup is about finding a unique way to attack other teams. Nobody else has skilled twin 7-footers, so we’ll leverage that. Maybe the lineup doesn’t work in a real game situation, but we’re going to try it out. So many great players to sub in and get 25+ minutes. Fitzsimmons, Grant, Wolfe Squared, Grupe, Jansens, Dettro, et al. Don’t put too much stock in the first five of this All-Time 5 lineup. The whole team matters, not just the five!
Bonus: The Wolfes are still building their legacy. Landon is just getting started at Minnesota State. Grant has a foothold at Illinois Wesleyan. What will Parker Wolfe’s legacy be? He’s got more than 1,100 points with one more season to play. He’s smaller than Landon and Grant but could end up right behind/next to them in the record books if he has another strong season.
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
March 4: The 4 seeds
March 11: The 3 seeds
March 13: The 2 seeds (Note: this is a Friday)
No. 8: TBA (6 p.m. show)
No. 7: TBA (10 p.m. show)
March 16: The 2 seeds (Note: this is a Monday)
No. 6: TBA (6 p.m. show)
No. 5: TBA (10 p.m. show)
March 18: The 1 seeds
No. 4: TBA (6 p.m. show)
No. 3: TBA (6 p.m. show)
No. 2: TBA (10 p.m. show)
No. 1: TBA (10 p.m. show)