High Schools

Stevens: Picking high schools’ best-ever athletes

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tstevens@newsobserver.comSeptember 2, 2012 

The N.C. High School Athletic Association is celebrating its 100th anniversary next year and is in the process of compiling a top 100 list for coaches, players and administrators.

Picking the most outstanding ever in the NCHSAA is a hard task – what does most outstanding mean?

The correct answer, to me, is somewhere between greatness on the field and contributions to the community off of it. Perhaps most famous is a better category.

Webb Simpson’s U.S. Open golf championship provoked a recent discussion that he was Broughton High’s most outstanding athlete ever. Someone countered with Jesse Williams, the two-time Olympian and the reigning world high jump champion. On my list, Pete Maravich, one of the greatest basketball players ever, is the school’s most outstanding athlete.

The conversation provoked a list of the most outstanding athletes ever at several area schools. Schools that have been opened since 1999 and schools that no longer exist were not included on the list.

Apex: Landon Powell, baseball, 2001 graduate. University of South Carolina; NCAA World Series Legends Team; played three years in the major leagues with the Oakland A’s and caught Dallas Braden’s perfect game in 2010.

Athens Drive: Josh Hamilton, baseball, 1999. Texas Rangers; five-time major league all-star; 2010 American League MVP.

Broughton: Pete Maravich, basketball, 1965. Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame; three-time All-America at LSU; five-time NBA all-star; NCAA all-time leading basketball scorer.

Bunn: Kerry Neal, football, 2007. Notre Dame; four-year starting defensive end and linebacker.

Cardinal Gibbons: Julie Shea Sutton, track and field, 1977. N.C. State; 11-time NCAA all-America; seven-time NCAA champion.

Cary: Vic Sorrell, baseball, 1923. Wake Forest; pitched at Cary High as a sophomore and senior and led Clayton High to the 1922 NCHSAA baseball championship; played in the majors for 10 seasons; coached N.C. State from 1946 through 1966.

Cary Academy: Thomas Graham, track and cross country, 2012. Stanford University; four-time N.C. Independent Schools Athletic Association cross country champion.

Chapel Hill: Brian Roberts, baseball, 1996. University of North Carolina; 12 years with the Baltimore Orioles; two-time major league all-star.

Clayton: Travis Stephenson, track, football and basketball, 1988. UNC; three-time NCHSAA discus champion; played football at UNC and played on UNC’s 1993 national championship basketball team; also won Big Rock Marlin fishing tournament.

Durham Academy: Mollie Pathman, soccer, 2010: Duke University; National Gatorade high school soccer player of the Year; member of U.S. U21 national team.

East Chapel Hill: Nick McCrory, diving, 2009. Duke; two-time NCAA champion, three-time high school state diving champion; 2011 U.S. national champion in 10-meter platform; 2012 U.S. Olympian bronze medalist

East Wake: Greg Ellis, football, 1993. All-America at UNC; played 12 seasons in the NFL with the Dallas Cowboys and the Oakland Raiders.

Enloe: Nate McMillan, basketball, 1982. Chowan College; N.C. State; 12-year NBA career; 12-year coaching career in the NBA at Seattle and Portland.

Franklinton: Jim Bibby, baseball, 1963. Fayetteville State; played in the major leagues for 11 seasons and compiled a 111-101 record; pitched for the 1979 World Champion Pittsburgh Pirates; threw a no-hitter against the Oakland A’s while with Texas; after allowing a lead-off single, retired 27 consecutive hitters against Atlanta.

Fuquay-Varina: Sheliah Cotten, basketball, 1971. East Carolina; first female elected into ECU Sports Hall of Fame; scored 1,152 points in ECU career and led Pirates to an 18-2 record as a senior; National Junior College Athletic Association Softball Hall of Fame with a 516-293 coaching record at Louisburg College; coached men’s tennis, volleyball at the school; Louisburg softball facility named Sheilah R. Cotten Field.

Garner: David West, basketball, 1998. All-America at Xavier; has played in the NBA since 2003 with the New Orleans Hornets and Indiana Pacers; a two-time all-NBA selection

Green Hope: Brendon Todd, golf, 2003. University of Georgia; three-time NCHSAA champion; All-America golfer at the University of Georgia.

Harnett Central: Brian Taylor, football, basketball and baseball 2011. N.C. State; four-time letterman in football, baseball and basketball; also was all-conference in each sport.

Hillside: John Lucas, basketball and tennis, 1971. University of Maryland: NCAA All-America in basketball and tennis and played both basketball and tennis professionally; first pick in the 1976 NBA draft; played in the NBA for 14 years and was an NBA head coach for six seasons.

Jordan: Logan Pause, soccer, 1999. University of North Carolina; Parade high school all-America; Chicago Fire of the MLS; Fire MVP in 2010.

Lee County: Steve Jones (Sanford Central), football, 1969. Duke; led Sanford to Eastern 3A championship three consecutive years; first 1,000-yard rusher in Duke history; 1972 ACC player of the year; played six seasons in the NFL with St. Louis Cardinals and Buffalo Bills.

Leesville Road: Brian Rimpf, football, 1999. East Carolina University; played for Baltimore Ravens, 2004-2006; current Fayetteville Jack Britt High football coach.

Louisburg: James Robert “Crow” Patterson, football, 1967. Marshall University; Patterson was a four-sport star at Louisburg and a football standout at Ferrum (Va.) Junior College, which won the National Junior College Athletic Association football championship in 1968; killed when the Marshall team plane crashed in 1970; the Louisburg field is named in his honor.

Millbrook: Paul Shuey, baseball, 1989. University of North Carolina; 45-28 won-loss record as a pitcher in an 11-year major league career with the Cleveland Indians, Los Angeles Dodgers and Baltimore Orioles.

North Johnston: Willie Smith, football, 2007. East Carolina; led the Panthers to the Eastern Regional football finals; offensive lineman with the Washington Redskins.

North Raleigh Christian: Chesson Hadley, golf, 2006. All-America golfer at Georgia Tech; tied for fourth in the NCAA championships and won the ACC individual title; has nine top 20 finishes this year on the eGolf Professional tour with $52,000 in earnings.

Northern Durham: Dewayne Washington, football, 1989. High school all-America pick by Sporting News, Super Prep and USA Today at N.C. State; played in the NFL for 11 years with the Minnesota Vikings, Pittsburgh Steelers, Jacksonville Jaguars and Kansas City Chiefs; NFL defensive rookie of the year in 1994.

Orange: Alvis Whitted, football and track, 1994. N.C. State; high school state 100 and 200 meters champion; finished sixth in 1996 U.S. Olympic Trials in the 200; played in the NFL for 10 seasons; currently coach at Colorado State University

Person: Enos Slaughter (Roxboro High), baseball, 1934. Slaughter played football and baseball at Roxboro High; 19 seasons in the major leagues with a .300 career batting average; St. Louis Cardinals; Baseball Hall of Fame.

Princeton: Mike Atkinson, football, 1980. Duke University; set NCHSAA state records for scoring, touchdowns, rushing touchdowns, and career, season and single game rushing attempts.

Ravenscroft: Antwan Harris, football, 1996. University of Virginia; Played in the NFL for five years for New England and Cleveland; played in Super Bowl in 2002 and 2004.

Riverside: Megan Hodge, volleyball, 2006. Penn State University; national Gatorade volleyball player of the year; four-time all-America at Penn State; 2010 Honda-Broderick Cup winner as the nation’s top female collegiate athlete; 2012 Olympic silver medal.

Saint Mary’s: Raven McDonald, soccer, 1996. University of North Carolina; Parade All-America selection in 1994-95; NCAA championship game MVP in 2000; played professional soccer with New York Power.

Sanderson: Steve Kenney, football, 1974. All-ACC at Clemson; played seven seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles, starting five seasons, and one season with Detroit Lions; played in Super Bowl XV.

Smithfield-Selma: Barry Foote, baseball, 1970. Played 10 seasons in the major leagues with the Montreal Expos, Philadelphia Phillies, Chicago Cubs and New York Yankees.

South Granville: Matt Harrison, baseball, 2003. Five-year starter for the Texas Rangers; 45-27 career record with a 4.14 earned run average; 15-8 in 2012 with a 3.30 ERA..

South Johnston: Ray Tanner, baseball, 1976. N.C. State; University of South Carolina athletic director; played and coached at N.C. State; coached South Carolina to NCAA titles in 2010 and 2011

Southeast Raleigh: Wayne Davis, track and field, 2009. Set the U.S. high school and the world junior record in the 110-meter hurdles; competed in London Olympics.

Southern Durham: David Garrard, football, 1996. East Carolina; three-year quarterback starter at East Carolina; played 10 years with Jacksonville; now with Miami Dolphins; NFL Pro Bowl selection in 2009.

Triton: Clayton White, football, 1996. N.C. State; Three-year starter at N.C. State; played in the NFL for two years; currently an assistant football coach at the University of Connecticut.

Wake Forest-Rolesville: Jamie Holland, football, 1982. Ohio State University; played seven years in the NFL with the San Diego Chargers; Los Angeles Raiders and Cleveland Browns.

Wakefield: Darius Johnson-Odom, basketball, 2007. Helped lead Wakefield to a state 4A basketball championship; two-year starter at Marquette; taken by Dallas in 2012 draft and sent to the Los Angeles Lakers.

Word of God Christian: John Wall, basketball, 2009. University of Kentucky; picked No. 1 overall in the 2010 NBA draft by the Washington Wizards.

Wake Christian: Len Bradley, baseball, 1976. Louisburg College; Clemson; starting pitcher at Clemson who played professional baseball four seasons, reaching the Class AAA level.

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