From the pages Street & Smith's College Basketball
WHATEVER HAPPENED TO ...
the 1994 Street & Smith's High School All-America Team
By Jonathan Woog
It’s the 10-year reunion for the 1994-95 Street & Smith’s High School All-America Team and, led by 2003-04 NBA MVP Kevin Garnett, it’s a star-studded class. It also includes Toronto Raptors high-riser Vince Carter, New York Knicks point guard Stephon Marbury and pure-shooting Boston Celtics guard Paul Pierce. Eight of the 20 are playing in the NBA, while several are still striving to live out that dream. One is entering his second year of medical school at Duke. Two have virtually disappeared.
As with any reunion, be prepared for twists, turns and surprises, especially the number of players who were teammates at some point in their hardwood careers. Ron Mercer and Melvin Levett were teammates at Oak Hill Academy, while Garnett, Marbury and Derek Hood were all on the 1995 USA Junior Select Team. Later, Garnett and Marbury crossed paths with the Minnesota Timberwolves from 1996-98. And Garnett teamed with 2004 NBA Finals MVP Chauncey Billups when he joined the T’wolves for two seasons (2000-02).
Carter and Antawn Jamison were teammates at North Carolina, leading the Tar Heels to the Final Four in 1998. The UNC teammates were even traded for each other shortly after being selected in the 1998 NBA Draft. Mercer and Wayne Turner both spent their college careers together at Kentucky, while Robert Traylor and Albert White were teammates for one season at Michigan, before White transferred to Missouri. Billups and Mercer were drafted third and sixth overall, respectively, by the Boston Celtics, but Billups was traded after 51 NBA games. The following year, Mercer teamed up with Paul Pierce in Boston.
FIRST TEAM ALL-AMERICA
6-10 forward Farragut Academy, Chicago
The 2003-04 NBA MVP made the jump from high school straight to the pros in 1995, proving to be a one of the early pioneers of the prep standouts who’ve skipped college to go directly to the pros.
Kevin Garnett, the consensus National Player of the Year, amassed 2,533 points, 1,807 rebounds and 739 blocked shots in his prep career at Mauldin (S.C) High and Farragut Academy in Chicago. He became the first player in more than 20 years to be drafted directly out of high school, getting tabbed by the Minnesota Timberwolves with the No. 5 overall selection in the draft.
In the pros, Garnett immediately made an impact, being named to the NBA All-Rookie second team after appearing in 80 games, starting 43 and averaging 10.4 points and 6.3 rebounds in his debut season.
Entering his 10th season with the Timberwolves, Garnett finally squashed the playoff bugaboo of never making it past the first round by leading the T’Wolves to the Western Conference Finals, where they were ousted by the Los Angeles Lakers. Garnett led the league in rebounds (13.9 per game) and total points (1,987), becoming the first player in 29 years to lead the league in both categories in the same season. He averaged 24.2 points, 13.9 rebounds and 2.17 blocks during the regular season, and actually increased his output in the postseason, averaging 24.3 points, 14.6 rebounds and 2.28 blocks in the playoffs. Now, all that is eluding Garnett and the T’Wolves is an NBA championship.
6-7 forward Oak Hill Academy, Mouth of Wilson, Va.
Ranked second behind Kevin Garnett as a favorite to win National Player of the Year, Ron Mercer did not disappoint then or now. In high school, he was multitalented, playing football, basketball and baseball. As a pitcher, many Major League Baseball teams scouted him.
A starter on Oak Hill Academy’s varsity team since eighth grade, Mercer averaged 24.7 points and 6.8 rebounds his junior year. As a senior, he received the Naismith Male Prep Player-of-the-Year Award.
He signed to play for coach Rick Pitino’s Kentucky Wildcats, joining 1993 Street & Smith’s High School All-American Antoine Walker and fellow 1994 S&S All-America Team member Wayne Turner to win the 1996 NCAA championship as a freshman in Lexington, Ky. Mercer left for the NBA after two seasons, earning SEC Player-of-the-Year honors while averaging 18.3 points, 5.3 rebounds and 2.4 assists as a sophomore.
Drafted sixth by the Celtics in 1997, he joined Pitino and Walker in Boston, along with fellow S&S prep All-Americans Chauncey Billups and Paul Pierce, but only for a short stay. Mercer played two seasons with the Celts, and has since become somewhat of a journeyman, making stops in Denver, Orlando, Chicago, Indiana and, most recently, San Antonio. He signed as a free agent with New Jersey in August, bringing his NBA team total to seven.
This past season with the Spurs, Mercer played in 39 games and averaged 5.0 points and 1.3 rebounds before being waived in February. Over his seven NBA seasons, Mercer has averaged 13.9 points and 3.1 rebounds and shot 43.0 percent from the field while starting 275 of 414 games.
6-1 guard Abraham Lincoln High School, Brooklyn, N.Y.
Considered to be the top guard in his class, Stephon Marbury’s high school coach, Bobby Hartstein, called him “the most complete guard” he had ever seen.
Marbury averaged 26.4 points, 8.3 assists and shot 54 percent from the field his junior season at Brooklyn’s Abraham Lincoln High before taking his skills south to Georgia Tech University.
As a Yellow Jacket, he stayed only one season, but earned Atlantic Coast Conference Rookie-of-the-Year and All-ACC first-team honors. He also led the Yellow Jackets and ranked third in the ACC in scoring with 18.9 points per game.
Marbury was drafted fourth by the Milwaukee Bucks in 1997, but was immediately traded to the Timberwolves in exchange for Ray Allen, where he joined fellow Street & Smith’s High School All-America classmate Kevin Garnett for two and half seasons before being traded to New Jersey. Marbury continued his trend of staying somewhere for two and half seasons before moving to a new team, enjoying similar stints with the Nets and Phoenix Suns.
Marbury returned home to play for the New York Knicks in a midseason trade during the 2003-04 season. He rejuvenated a struggling Knicks team, averaging 20.2 points and 8.9 assists for the season, helping the franchise earn its first playoff berth since 2001. Marbury averaged 21.3 points and 6.5 assists in the Knicks’ first-round playoff battle against his former team, New Jersey, but it wasn’t enough to keep New York from being swept by the Nets, 4-0.
In eight NBA seasons, Marbury has started 577 of 583 games, averaging 20.4 points and 8.3 assists during that span.
In August, the two-time NBA All-Star was the starting point guard on the U.S. Olympic Team in Athens.
6-8 forward Buena Vista High School, Saginaw, Mich.
A three-time Parade All-American, Terrance Roberson joined Patrick Ewing, Kenny Anderson and Alonzo Mourning as the only players to achieve the honor.
“Being that young, I didn’t know the importance of being a Parade All-American,” he says today.
His senior year at Buena Vista High in Saginaw, Mich., Roberson averaged 25 points and 14 rebounds and selected Fresno State because of its legendary coach, Jerry Tarkanian. “I grew up a Michigan Wolverine fan, but I always wanted to play for him [Tarkanian],” Roberson says.
With the Bulldogs, Roberson continued to put up strong numbers, especially as a junior when he averaged 14.6 points and 4.9 rebounds, and shot 46 percent from the field.
However, his numbers declined his senior year, as he averaged 12.3 points on just 40-percent shooting. “I never showed my full potential at Fresno State,” Roberson recalls.
Roberson tried breaking into the NBA and had a short stint with the Charlotte Hornets (New Orleans). He also played with the Harlem Globetrotters and several minor-league teams before taking his skills overseas.
Recently, Roberson suffered a fracture to his left ankle while playing for Bipop Reggio Emilia of the Italian League’s second division, but says he will be ready for the season opener in August. He led Bipop to the league championship while averaging 16.6 points, 4.2 rebounds and 1.7 assists.
As for the question of one day playing again in the NBA, Roberson says, “I would love to get back into the NBA, but I realize I’m getting old. Overseas is where I make my money.”
Roberson has two well-known basketball-playing cousins: Anthony Roberson, currently a junior guard at the University of Florida, and Mark Macon, a former Temple All-American who is now an assistant coach for the Owls.
6-5 guard/forward Mainland High School, Daytona Beach, Fla.
Known for his hang time and spectacular dunks, Vince Carter averaged four jams a game his junior year and totaled 92 his senior year. His high school coach, Charlie Brinkerhoff, preferred to focus on his star’s versatility when interviewed by Street & Smith’s in 1994, however. As a senior, Carter provided balanced averages of 20 points, 10.5 rebounds and 4.1 assists per game.
Selecting North Carolina as his college destination, Carter joined fellow S&S prep All-American Antawn Jamison to create a high-flying tandem in Chapel Hill. But in his three seasons with the Tar Heels, Carter averaged an underwhelming 12.3 points, 4.5 rebounds and 1.9 assists. Much like former UNC star Michael Jordan, the foundation for his game was laid in Chapel Hill under coach Dean Smith, but the eye-popping statistics weren’t realized until he left the college ranks. Despite that, he was a consensus second-team All-America choice in his final college season, when he averaged 15.6 points and 5.1 rebounds as a junior.
In 1998, the Golden State Warriors selected Carter with the fifth pick of the NBA Draft, but traded him to the Toronto Raptors for UNC teammate Jamison.
Entering his seventh season with the Raptors, Carter has been selected to the NBA All-Star Game four consecutive years and has been a starter for three. In the 2003-04 season, he averaged 22.5 points, 4.8 rebounds and 4.8 assists, finishing seventh in the league in scoring.
Carter has started 381 of 383 games in his NBA career, averaging 23.8 points 5.3 rebounds, 3.9 steals and 1.04 blocks a contest.
This is part 4 of a four-part series following the career paths of the 1994 Street & Smith's High School All-America Teams.