1981 Michigan Mr. Basketball Remix

July 7, 2012 in Cover Story, High School, Mr. Basketball Remix

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.

By Patrick Hayes

  1. Sam Vincent, Lansing Eastern
  2. Eric Turner, Flint Central
  3. Jeff Heide, Lakewood
  4. Leslie Rockymore, Detroit Southwestern
  5. Percy Cooper, Highland Park

Although a ‘Retro Mr. Basketball’ award has since been established to honor the top senior players before 1981, this was the first official year the award was given out. The top two players in this year’s voting both played college basketball at big-time universities and one, Vincent, went onto a a long NBA career.


Vincent, a Lansing kid, was part of a few lean years at Michigan State post-Magic Johnson, but he was still a very good college player. Originally a point guard, he eventually moved over to shooting guard to make room for Scott Skiles at the point. This Sports Illustrated article from 1983 talks about Vincent’s scoring ability:

Vincent wasn’t happy about being moved off the point to make room for Skiles last season, but he responded with 16.6 points per game. “Give the ball to Vincent, clear out of his way, and he’ll get you a basket,” says Illinois Assistant Coach Bob Hull. Vincent’s goal this season is improved defense. “There are some little things I picked up over the summer,” Vincent says. “I understand defense better. I’m concentrating much more.”

Vincent was picked 20th overall in the 1985 NBA Draft and played seven seasons in the league. He’s also pretty famous for being the featured player on a basketball ‘error card’ that has Michael Jordan weirdly wearing the No. 12. I tried so hard to get that card when I was a kid.

Vincent has since had a longtime domestic and international coaching career, including a short stint as head coach of the Charlotte Bobcats.


If you live in the Flint area today and follow hoops, chances are you still hear people talk about Turner as the greatest basketball player the city ever produced. Ryan McNeil of Hoops Addict wrote about how famous Turner is locally in 2006:

According to a Flint Summer Pro Am coach, “Eric Turner was something to see. He could pass the ball. Shoot the ball. Handle the ball. He could do just about anything. He was a first team All-American in high school and he started at Michigan his freshman year. Matter of fact, he was a freshman All-American. Drugs caught him. He could have been playing pro. He came out early out of college after his sophomore year. Matter of fact, Roy Tarpley is the one that got him off. Tarpely is over there sniffing saying come on ET.”

Another coach that loved the way that Turner played that game was John Hogan. Hogan told Davenport that “the best point guard, they called him ET because ET would look one way and dish the other way. ET was the man! We look at Mateen Cleaves, but ET was there first. ET was the best point guard to come out of Flint. He could shoot the jumper. He could pass left and look right. He could go through the legs. He was like another Magic Johnson.”

Turner had a strong career at Michigan and was selected in the second round of the 1984 NBA Draft by the Detroit Pistons, but never ultimately stuck with a NBA team. He did have a long international career, though.


Greg Johnson of the Grand Rapids Press on Heide:

Jeff Heide of Lakewood was a silky smooth left-handed shooter with amazing range. He set several school scoring records, and his game made a seamless transition to Central Michigan.

Heide is still 16th overall in career points at CMU.


Rockymore joined Turner at Michigan after a great high school team on some fantastic Southwestern squads that featured many high major college players. He was a solid player at Michigan and, eventually, coached at Southwestern. Dan Wetzel of Yahoo! interviewed Rockymore in this great feature on the plight of the school since its heyday:

Rockymore took over as Southwestern’s coach in November after the just hired William Foster was wounded by gunfire as he walked to his sister’s house to use a fax machine. Rockymore said the players are there across the city. So too, though, is the dysfunction.

“There are plenty of kids talented enough to play on the Division I level,” said Rockymore, who scored almost 1,000 points at Michigan. “But when you come down to the education, they are lost because no one has pushed them.

“A lot of the parents we deal with, they are just 14, 15 years older than the kid,” Rockymore continued. “They act like their friend, not their parent. When I was in school if a teacher said he was going to call my home I’d beg, ‘no, no, no.’ Now they don’t even care. [The parent] is more likely to take up for the kid.”

There is no easy solution to the problem. The forces running against these city teams are enormous and growing. “There are just so many elements,” Rockymore said.


Unfortunately, I couldn’t turn up much info on what Cooper has been up to since high school.

The Remix

As much as my Flint-ness would like to pick Turner here, I think Vincent pretty clearly had the best professional/college career overall of the group, so he’d be my vote for the Remix award.