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 9: JACKSONVILLE CRIMSONS
(3) Jacksonville vs. (6) TBA
PG – Creston Whitaker (Southern Illinois, North Texas, NFL) 6-2, 1,000 points college, 1967 NIT Champions, State 1965 team JHS; North Texas State HOF; Class of 1965
PG – Louis Armstrong (Northern Iowa) 5-10, 9 ppg best year UNI; Sectional Champs 1988, Class of 1988
SG – Ron Coleman (Ole Miss) 6-3, 21 ppg senior SEC, 5 rpg, All-State; Class of 1966
F – Andy Kaufmann (Illinois) 6-6, 21-5-2 best year at Illinois; 3,160 points at JHS is 2nd in IHSA history; Class of 1988
PF – Herb Caldwell (Illinois) 6-8; Reserve role with Illini; Class of 1993
Minutes off the bench
G/F – Chad Ormiston (Minnesota) 6-5, All-State HM (one class); Class of 1970
F - Duane Mounts (NW MO State, McKendree) 6-4, All-State (15 players) 1969; 38 points in game vs. Quincy U.
F - Ron Fairfield (Memphis) 6-6, Near-unanimous All-Capitol Conference 1973
F - Rick Conn (Wichita State) 6-5, Sectional Champs 1988; Leader of 1989 State team post-Kaufmann as well as 1988 w/AK; Class of 1989
G/F - Marty Perry (Valparaiso, SIU-Edwardsville) 6-9 shooter; 20-7 as senior, led CS8 scoring 1998; 46% 3FG at D2 SIU-E; First Team All-CS8 1997; Class of 1998
Tim Butler, 6-4, One of leaders of 1989 State team post-Kaufmann
PF – Brandon McCombs (Lewis) 6-7, 225 lbs, 14-11 senior JHS; All-CS8; Class of 2017
F - Derek Suttles (MacMurray) 6-4, MacMurray HOF, 1st points MC and 2nd rebounds and 2nd blocks; 7th in scoring in D3 in 2004; Sectional Finals 2000; First Team All-CS8 2000
G - Cory Bunner (SIU-E baseball) 6-0, 9th 1,194 pts; First Team All-CS8 2004; Class of 2004
G - Bruce Baldwin (Harding football, NFL) 6-1, Bills + Broncos; 5th round pick to DEN 1983
G – Brian Anderson (Princeton football) 6-1 QB, started 4 years JHS, 1st Team All-CS8 2005
G – Brady Hays (Illinois College) 6-3, 12 ppg freshman; Class of 2017
G – Riley Dugan (Illinois College) 6-4, 5 ppg; Class of 2016
G – Payton Dugan (Illinois College) 6-5, 10-4 best year; Class of 2013
Bob Esslinger, 1968 co-star with Duane Mounts
Mick Walls, First Team All-CS8 1994
Terrance Jeffries, 1st Team All-CS8 1996 + 1997
Kevin Montgomery, HM All-CS8 1997
G - Chad Tobin (Illinois College) First Team All-CS8 1998; 5th all-time Illinois College assists
Steve McGee, First Team All-CS8 1999
F - Jeremy Bell, First Team All-CS8 2000
Chevus Jackson (Rend Lake) First Team All-CS8 2001
Cody Marshall, First Team All-CS8 2003
Jason Garrett, First Team All-CS8 2004
F - David Heneisen (Illinois College), First Team All-CS8 2006
Ben Wagner, First Team All-CS8 2007
PF – Blake Hance (Northwestern football) 6-5, 300 lbs now; Three-sport athlete
Blake Burgess (Lincoln Land, William Woods) First Team All-CS8 2010, Wash. Generals
Josh Peak, First Team All-CS8 2013, Full-ride to Illinois academically
Kirk Ankrom, All-Capitol Conference 1983
Ron Kemp, Bill Williams, Ike Wright, Ed Harrell from 1952 State team
PG - Scott Curtis (Memphis State baseball) JHS HOF for baseball, basketball; three-year starting PG; Class of 1991
G – Ken Norton, Sr. (Boxing HOF, Truman State football) 6-3, track superstar; Class of 1961
(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: This competition is about firepower, plain and simple. Jacksonville is the only program that has two players who averaged 20+ points per game in a season at the Power 5 level. Let that sink in. The only one. If you can have the state's No. 2 all-time high school scorer (Andy Kaufmann) who had 3,160 points and then a peak of 21 per game at the Big Ten level, you are already in a good place. When you add in a guard who put up nearly 21 points per game his final season in the SEC (Ron Coleman) then you climb even higher up the list. That's an incredible duo. But mix in an NFL receiver who had 1,000 points at the Division-I level (Creston Whitaker), plus players who went on to Illinois, Northern Iowa, Memphis (State), Wichita State and Valparaiso (to name a few) and you have a juggernaut. To crack the Top 10 is no easy feat, I mean look at teams 15-10 and that tells you how special of a group this Jacksonville team has. Certainly deserving of a 3 seed in this field.
Upside of roster: The scoring potential of this group is special. Not just Kaufmann and Coleman, either. Whitaker and Armstrong can score in bunches when called upon. But this roster has balance and depth, too.
Downside of roster: Size. Having one more big man would really go a long way. Caldwell is a nice piece (6-8) to have on board, but the only similarly sized player to bring in would be 6-9 shooter Marty Perry, who was more of a perimeter threat.
Highlights of bench: I love this bench -- so many options to choose from. Ron Fairfield was a star at 6-6 and went to Memphis State. Rick Conn is a nice complementary piece at 6-5 and Wichita State pedigree. Marty Perry I mentioned above, he led the CS8 in scoring in 1998 and shot a ridiculous 46 percent from deep at SIU-Edwardsville after transferring from Valparaiso. Then there are other smaller-school stars like starter-caliber Duane Mounts (NW MO State and McKendree) to go with Brandon McCombs (Lewis) and Derek Suttles, who is first all-time in MacMurray history in points and 2nd in both rebounds and blocks.
Best season: The program has three trips to the state tournament: 1911, 1952, 1953. The most overall talent was probably in the late 1980s when coach Mel Roustio and Co. won back-to-back sectional titles in 1988 and 1989. Andy Kaufmann and Louis Armstrong were just two names that contributed to that success to go with other stars like Rick Conn, Tim Butler and many more. They made the 80s Crimsons a feared bunch.
Enrollment: 996 (2020)
GOAT: Andy Kaufmann is the most famous for "The Shot" against Iowa in 1993 and his eye-popping 3,000 points in high school. Ron Coleman's college accolades are right there too, with three seasons of double-digit scoring in the SEC and 1,046 points total including a remarkable 20.8 per game in 1969-70 as a senior.
Music: Shark attack. The crimson red bleachers and sunken nature of the Jacksonville Bowl would make that venue feel like a shark tank with blood in the water. Imagine it packed to the brim with screaming fans -- a scary thought for the opposing team!
Controversial decision: There are so many great players who are neck-and-neck for the final couple of spots in the starting lineup. Many people probably feel that Duane Mounts deserves to be in the lineup, and Fairfield, Conn, Perry, McCombs, Suttles are among the players who have an argument for why they should start. College accolades matter in this exercise so the Division-I players have a leg up, especially ones that produced on that level or provide size (in Caldwell's case).
Bonus: Ken Norton, Sr. went to Jacksonville High, did you know that? The Boxing Hall of Famer and father of NFL linebacker Ken Norton, Jr. was a track superstar and 1961 graduate. He was also a standout on the basketball team.
One More Bonus: I still think the Jacksonville Bowl is the most unique venue in the viewing area. Would get my vote as No. 1 in a long list of great area locales.
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)