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.
- Willie Mitchell, Detroit Pershing
- Travis Conlon, St. Clair Shores Lakeshore
- Maurice Taylor, Detroit Henry Ford
- Geno Carlisle, Grand Rapids Ottawa Hills
- Antwann Jones, Lansing Sexton
The University of Michigan thought it recreated some magic with this class. The original Fab Five featured the top two finishers in the 1991 Mr. Basketball race, Chris Webber and Jalen Rose. Michigan’s 1994 class bested that by adding the top three finishers, Mitchell, Conlon and Taylor. Unfortunately, as often is the case, iconic recruiting circumstances rarely happen twice in college basketball.
Mitchell was one of the most accomplished high school players of the 1990s, making the Detroit Free Press All-PSL team three times in high school, a rarity for any player in that era when the PSL routinely produced future NBA players. He led Pershing to two state titles and was a McDonald’s All-American.
Mitchell’s Michigan career didn’t go as planned, however. He was plagued by injuries his two seasons at Michigan and never fully asserted himself into the starting lineup as expected. His scoring average climbed to nearly 10 points per game his final two college seasons after he transferred to the University of Alabama-Birmingham. After college, Mitchell played professionally overseas as well as in minor leagues in the U.S.
Conlon never became a star at Michigan, but he was a steady contributor and eventual starter at guard for the Wolverines. He was never a double figures scorer or go-to player at Michigan, but he developed into a reliable outside shooter and solid defensive player. After college, he played professionally overseas for 12 seasons. In 2010, he joined Michigan’s basketball staff as Director of Basketball Operations:
Beilein said Monday that Conlan will work in several capacities including alumni relations, community service, future scheduling and facility management. He will also work as the director of Michigan’s basketball camps.
It’s a job that Conlan considers a once-in-a-lifetime chance after more than a decade of traveling the world playing professionally. While overseas, Conlan always tracked what Michigan was doing on the court – a message he conveyed during his brief face-to-face with his future boss in Germany.
“I told him I believe in what you’re doing and I just want you to know I’m supporting you from overseas watching the games and keeping track of what’s going on back home,” Conlan said in a phone interview Monday night.
“But I always liked (Beilein) played his basketball and his style. I really loved what he was doing with the program, the kind of people he was bringing in and I loved what he was trying to accomplish and how he was trying to accomplish it.”
Taylor was probably the third most heralded of the 1994 Michigan freshman class (Mitchell and Jerod Ward were both McDonald’s All-American’s, after all), but quickly asserted himself as the most college-ready player of the group of incoming freshmen. Taylor played two seasons at Michigan before declaring for the NBA Draft. He was a first round pick by the Los Angeles Clippers in 1997 and played nine NBA seasons. He also played briefly overseas. PROFILEHouston did this story on Taylor in 2010:
Carlisle wins the award on this list for the best quote ever given, from his days playing collegiately at Northwestern:
“It may sound cocky,” Carlisle once said when he played for Northwestern University in Illinois, “but the only player in Chicago who is better than me is Michael Jordan.”
That boast was only good for two seasons though, as Carlisle transferred to Cal after his sophomore season. In all, he averaged 16 points and three assists per game for his college career and went to camp with several NBA teams,
although he ultimately never made it all the way to the league and played in six games for Portland in the 2004-05 season (hat tip, Rational Sports Fan). He had a long professional career overseas after his college career ended.
Jones played briefly at Ball State as a freshman, but was suspended from the team for failing to meet academic requirements. Unfortunately, Google has proved fruitless in turning up what happened to him since.
As clearly as Mitchell was the winner for his accomplished high school career, Taylor is the winner of the remix award for his solid college and professional careers.
- 2003 Michigan Mr. Basketball Remix
- 2000 Michigan Mr. Basketball Remix
- 1983 Michigan Mr. Basketball Remix