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!
51 pages. 8,900 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.
NUMBER 33: MT. PULASKI HILLTOPPERS
(8) Mt. Pulaski vs. (8) Okaw Valley in Play-in Game
PG – Frank Wade (w/o UIC) 5-8; Class of 1997
SG - Gezus Oliver (MacMurray) 6-0 (Scored 20+ in 1Q); Class of 2018
G/F - Jeff Clements (Illinois Wesleyan) 6-3, 1977 Area POY, 2,212 points is 1st all time; star of 1976 state champs (29-2); Top 100 legend IHSA State
G/F - Deron Powell (1984 Area POY)
C - Peyton Taylor (Southern Illinois T&F) 6-8, All-State HM
G - David Welch, 6-1, 1976 champs
David Thompson, 1976 champs
G - Ryan Deibert, 1999 regional champions (current head coach)
F - Jeff Anderson, 6-3
G - Rex Tschantz; Class of 1994
G – Seth Huff; Class of 2018
G - Jordan Luczaj (2014 regional champions); Class of 2014
Jarrod Cowan 1990s
PG - Ricky Edwards, 6-1, "glue guy" and "defensive killer" of 1984 state runner-up, per Ronnie Merold
PG - Pat Walsh, 6-0, 6th man on 1984 team and led 1985 team to super sectionals. IBCA Hall of Fame for contributions as referee.
PG - Brad Gibbs, 5-8, 1976 state champs
SG - Brad Beggs, 6-1, 1,300+ career points and over 300 3-pointers; Class of 1993
(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.)
Best season: 1976 State Champion (Class A)
Enrollment: 162 (2020), 403 (1976)
GOAT: G/F Jeff Clements, 6-3, who took over the 1976 state tournament as a freshman. 2,212 career points: enough said. He went on to Illinois Wesleyan.
Why they're seeded here: This is a big win for Topper Nation, which beat out a large list of other qualified schools of a similar profile: small school state champion, college athletes, a true go-to stud. It boiled down to three factors: the two-class state championship carrying more weight, having two area players of the year in Clements and Powell, plus having 6-8 size in the post.
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
No. 25: Shelbyville
February 19: The 6 seeds
No. 24: TBA
No. 23: TBA
No. 22: TBA
No. 21: TBA