What Happened to the McDonald’s All-Americans? (Part II – 1977-1980)
Picking up where we left off, we’re going to look at the classic McDonald’s All-American teams to see which players fared well — and which ones never made it. Using Win Shares, I’ll break each class into 4 groups: those with good careers (>11.0 WS), those with typical careers (>0.5 WS), those with fringe careers (<0.5 WS), and those who never played in the league. And along with those who never made it, I’ll try to fill in as many gaps as I can on what happened after they failed to live up to the lofty expectations set for them as high schoolers. And by all means, if you know more about what happened to some of these guys, tell us in the comments!
Also, as some of our astute readers pointed out last time, there may still be some issues with our database in terms of linking player names to their ID codes, because the data source for the McDAAs is different than the one we use for all of our other stats. If you see an error either in my post or if you’re just cruising the All-Americans page, please let us know in the comments or drop Justin an e-mail (special thanks go out to reader MCT for helping us fix some of these problems from two days ago).
Anyway, here’s what I’m terming the “First Generation” of McDonald’s All-Americans, the classes from 1977-1980:
Good careers: Magic Johnson, Jeff Ruland, Gene Banks, Darnell Valentine, Albert King, Al Wood, Danny Vranes
Typical careers: Jeff Lamp, Ray Tolbert, Tracy Jackson
Fringe careers: none
Never played: Tom Baker, Pete Budko, Tom Freeman, Wayne McKoy, James Ratliff
Baker started off at Indiana, but transferred to Eastern Kentucky and was drafted by the Spurs in the 1981 3rd round. Budko was a minor player at UNC, averaging 1.9 career PPG at Chapel Hill, but he was taken by Dallas in the 5th round of the 1981 draft, and apparently went on to have a four-year pro career in Europe. Freeman, who hailed from Lynwood, CA, went to Kansas State but later transferred to Idaho State and was never drafted. McKoy went to St. John’s, playing a big role in the Red Storm’s upset win over Duke in the 1979 NCAA Tournament, and was selected by the Knicks 1 pick before Baker in the ’81 draft. Like Budko, McKoy would eventually play professionally in Europe. Finally, Ratliff went to Howard University and was drafted by the Hawks in 1982.
Good careers: Mark Aguirre
Typical careers: Jerry Eaves
Fringe careers: Scooter McCray, Vince Taylor, Dwight Anderson, Guy Morgan, Corny Thompson, Devin Durrant
Never played: Micah Blunt, Greg Goorgian, Tony Guy, Reggie Jackson, Don Larson, Leonel Marquetti, Darryl Mitchell, Tyren Naulls, Clarence Tillman, Landon Turner, Chuck Verderber, Rudy Woods
Blunt starred at Tulane and was drafted by the Lakers in the 8th round in 1982. Goorgian went to Loyola Marymount and was not drafted. Guy went to Kansas and was drafted by the Celtics in the 2nd round in 1982, but he didn’t make the team and kicked around the CBA & Europe for a while before returning to Kansas & selling insurance (no lie). Philly native Jackson went to Maryland and played under Lefty Driesell, but was not drafted. Larson joined Vranes at Utah but also went undrafted. Marquetti attended USC, but transferred to Hampton University and left there as an underclassman. He was selected by the Spurs in the 9th round in 1981 but never played, and some consider him one of the first McDAA “busts”. Mitchell was 1st team All-Big 10 as a senior at Minnesota in 1982, but went undrafted (while his Gophers teammate Trent Tucker would go on to a solid NBA career). Naulls’ college career started at UCLA, where he was a disappointment, but he transferred to Texas A&M and was a 5th-round choice by the Nets in 1983. Similarly, Tillman committed to tradition-rich Kentucky and struggled as a freshman, tranferring to Rutgers shortly thereafter. Turner’s story is a tragic one: after fighting his way from being Bob Knight’s whipping boy to helping the Hoosiers win the national championship in 1981, Turner was paralyzed from the chest down in a car accident. Red Auerbach would select him with the final pick of the ’82 draft, in a symbolic gesture of respect for his courage & determination both on and off the court. Verderber was a hard-working Academic All-SEC role player for Kentucky who was drafted by the Bulls in 1982’s 7th round, and briefly played in Spain afterwards. Woods, who was the MVP of the 1978 game, was part of a tough defensive frontcourt for Texas A&M known as “The Wall”, leading the Aggies to the Sweet 16 in 1980. He was drafted by the Mavericks in 1982’s 4th round.
Good careers: Dominique Wilkins, James Worthy, Isiah Thomas, Byron Scott, Antoine Carr, John Paxson, Steve Stipanovich, Sam Bowie, Clark Kellogg, Ralph Sampson, Sidney Green, Quintin Dailey
Typical careers: Darren Daye, Greg Kite, Dirk Minniefield, Sidney Lowe
Fringe careers: none
Never played: Tim Andree, Jim Braddock, Tony Bruin, Terry Fair, Teddy Grubbs, Derrick Hord, Raymond McCoy, Horace Owens, Ricky Ross, Dereck Whittenburg
Andree played for Digger Phelps at Notre Dame (incidentally, his son also plays for the Irish), and was selected in the 5th round of the ’83 draft by the Bulls before spending 7 years playing pro ball in Europe and Japan. Now he’s the NBA’s Senior Vice President of Communications. Braddock (not this guy) was the 6th man on the high-powered Jordan-Perkins-Worthy UNC team in 1982, but went undrafted. Bruin — who somehow didn’t go to UCLA — had a decent but ultimately disappointing career at Syracuse (11.6 career PPG) before being drafted in the ’83 7th round by the Sixers. Now he’s an assistant coach at a HS in South Carolina. Fair (not this guy) was part of UGA’s best-ever hoops squad (with Wilkins, James Banks, and Vern Fleming), helping them go to the Final Four in 1983, the same year he was a 4th-round pick by the Pacers. Grubbs was a high-school phenom of whom much was expected at DePaul, but he left school due to severe emotional issues in 1982 and his life has been filled with various problems ever since. Hord was a decent — if somewhat disappointing — player at Kentucky (1st-team All-SEC in 1982), and was drafted in the 3rd round in 1983 by the Cavaliers, but never played pro ball in the U.S. McCoy, who was considered on par with Isiah Thomas in HS, started at San Francisco (and was in fact, with Dailey, their last big-time recruit), but transferred to DePaul and was quickly overshadowed by a precocious younger guard named Kenny Patterson. “Pappy” Owens was a star at URI (Honorable Mention All-America as a senior), but never got a chance in the NBA; he’s now an assistant at LaSalle. Ross had a long and interesting college career before being taken by the Bullets in the 3rd round in 1984. Finally, Whittenburg will always be remembered for his role in NC State’s epic upset of Houston in the 1983 NCAA Championship Game — it was his desperation heave from halfcourt that Lorenzo Charles dunked in at the buzzer to give the Wolfpack the improbable win. The Suns drafted him that year, but his playing days soon gave way to a college coaching career (he was an assistant at NC State and has been Fordham’s head coach for 6 years).
Good careers: Sam Perkins, Derek Harper, Doc Rivers, Vern Fleming, Tim McCormick, Joe Kleine, Jim Petersen
Typical careers: Kenny Fields, Russell Cross
Fringe careers: Tom Sluby, Charlie Sitton, Ralph Jackson, Earl Jones
Never played: James Banks, Bret Bearup, Clark Bynum, Matt Doherty, Peter Holbert, Jim Master, Glen Mayers, Alonzo McFarlan, Ricky Norton, Barry Spencer, Gary Springer
Banks and Fleming were teammates of Dominique Wilkins at Georgia, and Banks was taken in the 3rd round of the ’84 draft by the Sixers, but he never suited up in the NBA. Now he’s the head coach at Athens Academy, a HS in the same town as UGA. Bearup never really lived up to his potential at Kentucky (his biggest achievement was Academic All-SEC status as a senior), but he moved on to a long career in high school and AAU scouting, and today he works as an advisor for the Denver Nuggets. Bynum didn’t have a distinguished college career at Clemson, but he made his mark as a businessman and man of faith after his playing days ended. Sadly, he passed away from liver cancer in 2007. Doherty was a solid starter for arguably the best stretch in UNC history (the team went 117-21 during his stay in Chapel Hill), but couldn’t carve out a place in the NBA. Afterwards, he coached at Davidson, Kansas, & Notre Dame before a rather underwhelming run as the Tar Heels’ head coach from 2000-03. He’s now the coach of SMU. Holbert went to Maryland but didn’t make much of a dent at all. Long-range bomber Jim Master was twice selected 3rd team All-SEC, averaging 10.6 PPG for Kentucky, though you may have expected more from a former Indiana Mr. Basketball. He was drafted in the 6th round by the Hawks in 1984, but never set foot on an NBA floor. Mayers went to Wake Forest, but wasn’t a high-impact college player. The same goes for McFarlan, who doesn’t appear to have done much of anything at St. Joe’s. Norton was a big-time recruit from tiny Okolona, Arkansas (population: 160), but he was no great shakes as Eddie Sutton’s final PG before the legendary coach left for Kentucky. Spencer was the only scholarship player Digger Phelps ever coached who got an architecture degree, which is just about the only notable thing that you can say about his hoops career at Notre Dame. And last but not least, Springer teamed with Steve Burtt to lead small Iona College to the NCAA Tournament in 1984; he was drafted in the 6th round in 1984 by Philadelphia. In another family connection, Springer’s son Gary Jr. was a senior for the Gaels this past season.
Come back next week for more snapshots of past high school All-Americans, and be sure to share your memories in the comment section below!