Regularly, BallinMichigan.com will look back at the yearly Mr. Basketball award with the benefit of hindsight. These posts will look back at the top five finishers at the time, provide updates on what they’ve done since and, for the fun of it, let readers re-vote to see if the results would be different if we include their full college and professional bodies of work. Thanks to Ron Pesch, MHSAA historian, for the great Mr. Basketball voting database he provides online.
- Antoine Joubert, Detroit Southwestern
- Garde Thompson, East Grand Rapids
- Darryl Johnson, Flint Central
- Dan Majerle, Traverse City
- Quincy Turner, Benton Harbor
The 1983 class contained some fantastic high school basketball players. Unfortunately, looking back on the list, it also is a reminder of the closing of two fantastic basketball powerhouse schools of the past. Terry Foster and Eric Lacy of The Detroit News wrote about Detroit Southwestern in March:
The clock is ticking on Southwestern High’s legendary basketball program.
The program that produced three state championships, nine Public School League titles, one of the greatest legends in Antoine Joubert and sent players like Jalen Rose and Howard Eisley to the NBA may be about to play its final game.
Detroit Public Schools officials plan to close Southwestern after the academic year because of dwindling enrollment. The team played its final home game this season Thursday, a 62-56 loss to Warren Fitzgerald, on a court donated by Rose and named after legendary coach Perry Watson.
Flint Central, meanwhile, went through a similar fate a few years ago. I get all of the realities that lead to school buildings closing in struggling districts, but it’s pretty crazy to think that high schools that produced some of the greatest athletes of the last just simply no longer exist. Anyway, here’s a look at what the 1983 top five did since their high school days.
Joubert was an easy choice for Mr. Basketball in 1983 and he remains one of the best high school players this state has ever produced. He followed up his high school career with a solid career at Michigan (he’s third all-time in career assists at UM) and played professionally overseas until 2002. He’s currently the head coach at Oakland Community College, one of the top JUCO programs in the state. In an interview with AnnArbor.com in 2010, Joubert joked that his players are probably too young to know about his playing days:
Q: Parents know you, everyone in this state knows you but the kids at OCC, do they have any clue?
AJ: “A lot of them don’t. They laugh about our shorts and stuff because sometimes we’re on the Big Ten Network and they Google you and stuff and look at your photos and stuff but a lot of them don’t.”
Q: Do their parents tell them?
AJ: “Their parents do. Yeah. They come in and say ‘Mom and dad said you’re a great player’ and this and that but they don’t see you in that way because they never physically saw you play. But it’s a lot of fun.”
Well, 1983 was quite a recruiting year for Michigan, landing the top two finishers in the Mr. Basketball voting. Thompson averaged 27 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists per game his senior year in high school, so that should tell you how good Joubert was if he beat out the guy who averaged a triple double. At Michigan, Thompson was a bench player for three years, then had a great senior season, averaging nearly 15 points and 5 assists per game while making 48 percent of his 3-pointers. Here was a description of Thompson by a MGoBlog commenter who followed his career:
Garde had a pretty successful career at Michigan, eventually earning a starting spot in Michigan’s 3 guard offense his senior year alongside Grant and Joubert. Garde’s best attribute was that he could flat-out shoot the rock.
Johnson was part of three consecutive state title teams at Flint Central in the early 1980s and went on to play college basketball at Michigan State. He became a major contributor his final two years, including averaging 22 points per game as a senior. Johnson was drafted by the Golden State Warriors and played briefly in the NBA and played professionally overseas and in minor leagues in the U.S.
Eric Woodyard of the Flint Journal caught up with Johnson for a story on his post-basketball life in October 2011:
There’s now a running joke in his new line of work. They say that everyone in his industry has a cold grip.
According to Johnson, there’s no truth to that wisecrack. If anything, he has to have a warm heart excel in his occupation.
“A lot of people can’t do this, you have to be a special individual to be in this business,” said Johnson, a five-year member of the staff at Swanson Funeral Home. “What really gives me joy and makes me feel good is trying to comfort and to be just a rock of support.”
Johnson’s duties include anything from filing death certificates, picking up dead bodies, leading funeral services, and driving the hearse that carries the coffins to the cemetery.
Majerle is arguably the greatest basketball player to come out of the northern part of Michigan and arguably the greatest basketball player in Central Michigan history. After a standout career in Mount Pleasant, Majerle was a first round pick by Phoenix in the 1988 NBA Draft and became a three-time All-Star for the Suns. He was one of the league’s great Sixth Men and made the NBA All-Defense team twice.
Majerle does not need to coach after 14 NBA seasons. He has a successful business, four kids and a fiancee. He chooses to coach, whether it is continuing as Alvin Gentry’s assistant or becoming a head coach. Majerle tried broadcasting to fill his NBA void after retiring in 2002, but a hole remained.
“As a coach, you’re working every day to get better and it brings back the competitive spirit,” Majerle, 45, said. “It gets your blood flowing. That’s what I like about it. I feel like I have a chance to help the team get better, just like when I played.”
Turner, a great passer out of Benton Harbor, was the third member of the 1983 top five to play at Michigan. Turner only played five games at Michigan and, even though I consider myself an expert Googler, I can’t seem to find anything on what happened to him after that.
With apologies to Joubert and Johnson, who both had nice post-high school careers, Majerle is the clear winner here for the post-HS Mr. Basketball.