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.
- Jason Richardson, Saginaw Arthur Hill
- LaVell Blanchard, Ann Arbor Pioneer
- Aloysius Anagonye, Detroit DePorres
- Brent Darby, River Rouge
- T.J. Meerman, Coopersville
The voting between Richardson and Blanchard was extremely close at the time, with Richardson edging Blanchard 741-631. I have a feeling the voting in our poll looking at their post-high school careers won’t be so close.
Richardson was the first of four straight Mr. Basketball winners to commit to Michigan State (followed by Marcus Taylor, Kelvin Torbert and Paul Davis). He helped MSU get a national title in his two seasons there and since, he’s been one of the two most successful MSU players (along with Zach Randolph) in the NBA in the Tom Izzo era. He’s never made an All-Star team, but he’s been on the cusp a few times in his career and as his two slam dunk championships will attest, he’s one of the greatest dunkers of his era.
Blanchard followed up his standout high school career with a great college career as well, leading Michigan in both scoring and rebounding for four consecutive seasons. He’s since enjoyed a long professional career in both Europe and South America. I have no idea if it’s true or not, but I enjoyed this comment on MGoBlog about someone playing pickup ball with Blanchard:
I used to play pick up games at the CCRB years back, and I played about three in a row with him one day. The first two games he was a great teammate, setting people up, passing, rebounding, shooting the occasional three while wearing ankle weights. He made the game fun.
Then someone pissed him off in the last game. I don’t remember clearly what happened, but he went and dunked on the guy like three times in a row. With the ankle weights still on. It wasn’t even funny. And it did clearly demonstrate the gap between DI and guy cut from his 9th grade basketball team.
In fairness, sometimes guys playing pickup who were cut in ninth grade need to be reminded of their place on the court.
Anagonye, a bruising big man, was a solid rotation player during his MSU career. He averaged 5.7 points and 4.4 rebounds per game in 133 games over four seasons. Since leaving MSU, he’s played professionally in the NBA D-League, Spain, Italy and Turkey, among other stops.
Darby followed up his high school career with a great college career at Ohio State. He averaged 18.3 points and 4.4 assists per game as a senior and played professionally in international leagues after college. Sadly, Darby died in 2011 at age 30 due to complications from blood clots. His college career was highlighted by a great performance leading the Buckeyes to a Big Ten Tournament championship:
He might be best remembered, though, for carrying an undermanned team that finished tied for eighth place in the Big Ten that year to the championship game of the conference tournament.
The Buckeyes won three games in three days, including upsets of Wisconsin and Michigan State, before falling to Illinois in the title game. Darby averaged 21 points and four assists in the four games and drove for a game-winning layup in the final two seconds in a first-round win over Iowa.
Meerman wasn’t the most high profile member of a team that featured future NBA All-Star Chris Kaman at Central Michigan, but Meerman was a vital piece of the school’s last NCAA Tournament appearance. From CM Life:
If you listen close, you can hear it echoing from the walls of Rose Arena.
“Shoot, T.J.. Shoot.”
It is a favorite and familiar sound during Central Michigan home games. From Rose Rowdies to Alumni, rock-solid junior point guard T.J. Meerman hears it from all directions.
“It doesn’t bother me too much,” Meerman said. “I know that when I have an open look, I’ll take it. My role is to be kind of a facilitator and get the other guys involved.”
Richardson is obviously the biggest name in this group, but the top five here all had nice college and pro careers, a rarity in this series as at least one of most top fives inevitably flames out along the way. Still, Richardson is the obvious winner of our made-up post-high school Mr. Basketball Award.
- 2003 Michigan Mr. Basketball Remix
- 2000 Michigan Mr. Basketball Remix
- 1983 Michigan Mr. Basketball Remix
- 1994 Michigan Mr. Basketball Remix
- 1985 Michigan Mr. Basketball Remix
- 1991 Michigan Mr. Basketball Remix
- 1987 Michigan Mr. Basketball Remix
- 2007 Michigan Mr. Basketball Remix
- 1981 Michigan Mr. Basketball Remix
- 1998 Michigan Mr. Basketball Remix