Size within reach | Sports

During my 38-year sports reporting career in the St. Louis metropolitan area, the one question I’ve probably been asked more than any other is who are the best basketball players to come from the area.

For our 95th anniversary special, I’m going to do something a little different. Here’s a group of some of the best players around, ranked by height.

5’7” – Daryl “Pee Wee” Lenard (Central ’81): The dynamic point guard orchestrated Central’s high-scoring offense, which was averaging 100+ points per game. He played college basketball in Georgia and Saint Louis U.

5’7” – Niele Ivey (Cor Jesu ’96): The Prep All-American led the Chargers to the 1995 Class 4A state championship. She helped lead Notre Dame to the NCAA National Championship in 2000.

5’8” – Joel Shelton (Vashon ’00): The standout guard was a standout for the Wolverines for four years. He led Vashon to the Class 4A state championship in 2000. He also had his number withdrawn from Vashon.

5’10” – Jackie Joyner-Kersee (East St. Louis Lincoln ’80) – The Greatest Woman Athlete was a star basketball player in Lincoln, where she led the Tigerettes to the 1979 IHSA Class AA State Championship. Although she was known for her career brilliance, she attended UCLA on a basketball scholarship.

5’11” – Grayling Tobias (McCluer ’75) – A standout point guard who led the Comets to back-to-back state championships in 1974 and 1975. He was also a standout baseball player who was drafted by the Montreal Expos.

6’0” – Marshall Rogers (Sumner ’71) – A former Public High League standout who was an ace in the sixth man for the 1969 Bulldogs state championship team. He led the NCAA with 36 points per game at Pan-American University in 1975.

6’1” – Napheesa Collier (Incarnate Word ’14): A McDonald’s All-American who led the IWA to three consecutive state championships. She was a star collegiate player at UConn and currently plays for the WNBA’s Minnesota Lynx.

6’2” – Kristin Folkl (St. Joseph’s ’94); A dual-sport star who led the Angels to four consecutive state championships in basketball and volleyball. She also helped lead Stanford to the NCAA Final Four in both sports.

6’3” – JoJo White (McKinley ’65): A former star player in the Public High League, the Kansas All-American, a gold medalist at the 1968 Olympics, and a Hall of Fame guardian for the Boston Celtics of the NBA.

Tina Hutchinson (East St. Louis Lincoln ’83) – An incredible talent who scored over 3,000 points throughout her high school career. In 1983 she was USA Today National Player of the Year.

6’4” – Bradley Beal (Chaminade ’11): A McDonald’s All-American who led the Red Devils to a state championship in 2009. After playing a year in Florida, he has been a star player for the Washington Wizards for 11 past seasons. He is close to becoming the franchise’s all-time top scorer.

6’5” – Larry Hughes (CBC ’98) – The McDonald’s All-American led the cadets to the 1997 Class 4A state championship. In 1998, he was national freshman of the year at Saint Louis U. He has continued a 13-year career in the NBA.

6’6” – Cuonzo Martin (East St. Louis Lincoln ’90) – The former Lincoln star helped the Tigers win back-to-back IHSA Class AA state titles in 1988 and ’89. He helped lead Purdue to three consecutive Big 10 Conference championships.

6’7” – Anthony Bonner (Vashon ’86) – The standout forward led the Wolverines to the Class 4A state championship. He then went on to have a great career at Saint Louis U., where he is still the school’s career leader in scoring and steals. He went on to have a seven-year career in the NBA.

6’7” – David Thirdkill (Soldan ’78) – A former PHL star who guided Bradley to the NIT Championship and also to an NCAA tournament berth. He was a first-round pick by the Phoenix Suns in 1982. In 1986 he was a member of the Boston Celtics NBA World Championship team.

6’8” – Jayson Tatum (Chaminade ’16) – A McDonald’s All-American who led the Red Devils to the 2016 Class 5 State Championship. After a year at Duke, he is now one of the top players in the NBA with the Boston Celtics as well as an Olympic gold medalist.

6’9” – LaPhonso Ellis (Lincoln ’88), Darius Miles (East St. Louis ’00) – These two East Side greats were both McDonald’s All-Americans. Ellis led the Tigers to back-to-back state championships in 1987 and 1988. After a great career at Notre Dame, he played for the Denver Nuggets of the NBA. Miles was a dominant player on the East Side for two Final Four teams. He was drafted by the Los Angeles Clippers as the high school’s No. 3 pick.

6’10 – Rick Suttle (Assumption) – A former Metro East standout who went on to have a stellar college career in Kansas, where he helped the Jayhawks reach the 1974 NCAA Final Four. He was drafted by the Los Angeles Lakers of the NBA and the San Antonio Spurs of the ABA.

6’11” – Steve Stipanovich (DeSmet ’79) – The star center was a McDonald’s All-American after leading the Spartans to back-to-back state championships. He led Missouri to four consecutive Big 8 championships. He played for the Indiana Pacers in the NBA.

7’0” – David Brent (Sumner ’70) – The talented big man was the center of Sumner’s 1969 Class L state championship team, which was one of the best high school teams ever assembled.

7’1” – Loren Woods (Cardinal Ritter ’96) – The talented big man was a McDonald’s All-American who led the Lions to back-to-back Class 2 state championships in ’95 and ’96. He helped guide Arizona to a berth in the 2000 NCAA national championship game.


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