It seems like only yesterday -- Nov. 5, to be exact -- that a lot of old-timers gathered in the Colonnade Room at Memorial Stadium in Champaign to induct the inaugural class of the Illinois High School Basketball Hall of Fame and Museum in Pinckneyville.
Now it is time to nominate players for the second class of Hall of Famers. But this assignment will be even tougher. The list of inductees for the Class of 2012 will be limited to 10 in the pre-1960s era, 10 in the post-1960s era and five women.
It was easier to pick 30, 20 and 10 for the inaugural class. There were few complaints when they were announced. Ask yourself: If I'm picking an all-time Illinois team, who would be on it? There are no ifs, ands or buts in that discussion.
But now the list of candidates is almost as long and as distinguished but the number of Hall of Fame spots is much smaller.
If you could pick one pitcher to start the seventh game of the World Series, would you give the ball to Sandy Koufax, Steve Carlton or Bob Feller?
If you needed one basket to win the seventh game of the NBA championship, would you pass the ball to Michael Jordan, Larry Bird or Jerry West?
Get the point?
Who are the leading candidates in the pre-1960s era?
My 10-man list includes South Shore's Jake Fendley, Peoria's Lynch Conway, Galesburg's Bumpy Nixon, Champaign's Rod Fletcher, Galva's Rich Falk, Paris' Bob Owens, Carrier Mills' Catfish Rollins, Wells' Abe Booker, Princeton's Joe Ruklick and Bloom's Homer Thurman.
That's a good starting point for a good debate, right?
But what about Peoria Central's Hiles Stout, Herrin's John Tidwell, Quincy's Perry Barclift, Mount Vernon's Junior Kirk, Dongola's Joe Aden, Decatur's Bob Doster and Campbell Hill's Arlen Bockhorn?
Are you forgetting Taylorville's Billy Ridley, Elgin's Flynn Robinson and Don Sunderlage, Fenger's Sammy Esposito, Marshall's Irv Bemoras, DePue's Ron Zagar, Ridgway's Roger Suttner, Rock Island's Richard Litt, Springfield's Tom Cole, Tilden's Johnny Kerr, West Frankfort's Cotton Hughes, Campbell Hill's Dean Ehlers and Stewardson's Scott Steagall?
Remember, a good rule of thumb when trying to separate one Hall of Fame candidate from another, is to ask yourself: If you have to ask who, then you have to ask why. In other words, a true Hall of Famer doesn't need an introduction. Merely the mention of his name should warrant a nod in the affirmative. Do we need to discuss the credentials of Isiah Thomas or Dike Eddleman?
So who are the leading candidates in the post-1960s era?
My 10-man list includes Thornton's Lloyd Batts, Hales Franciscan's Sam Puckett, St. Anne's Jack Sikma, Fenwick's Corey Maggette, Galesburg's Joey Range, Dunbar's Billy Harris, Richards' Dwyane Wade, East St. Louis' Darius Miles, Manley's Russell Cross and Moline's Steve Kuberski.
But what about Collinsville's Bogie Redmon and Rodger Bohnenstiehl, Carver's Terry Cummings and Tim Hardaway, Eldorado's Mike Duff, Marion's Greg Starrick, Quincy's Michael Payne and Jacksonville's Andy Kaufmann?
Are you forgetting Benton's Doug Collins, Springfield Lanphier's Ed Horton, Farragut's Ronnie Fields, Mount Carmel's Antoine Walker, Thornwood's Eddy Curry, Peoria Manual's Sergio McClain, Westinghouse's Eddie Johnson, Hersey Hawkins and Kiwane Garris, Lincoln's Norman Cook, King's Rashard Griffith, Du Sable's Maurice Cheeks and Ottawa Marquette's Bob Guyette?
Benton's Doug Collins, who went on to have an outstanding career at Illinois State and the NBA, is a partial answer to an interesting trivia question: Which five All-NBA players didn't make All-State? Collins, Du Sable's Maurice Cheeks, Elgin's Flynn Robinson, Tilden's Johnny Kerr and Thornridge's Kevin Duckworth.
Remember, the first criteria for selection into the Hall of Fame is high school performance.
Hey, you could pick five players from this group and take on any all-star team--Dunbar's Ronnie Lester, West Aurora's Kenny Battle, Vocational's Juwan Howard, Simeon's Deon Thomas, Ridgway's Ron Stallings, Hirsch's Rickey Green, Marshall's Rich Bradshaw, Whitney Young's Quentin Richardson, East Rockford's Skip Thoren and Madison's Don Freeman.
See how tough it is?
The girls selection committee, chaired by former Chicago Sun-Times high school sports editor Steve Tucker, who also is a former member of the selection committee for the McDonald's All-America Game, nominated five for Hall of Fame induction.
They are Marie Christian and Cappie Pondexter of Marshall, Natasha Pointer of Whitney Young, Diana Vines of South Shore and Alicia Ratay of Lake Zurich.
Christian, Illinois' Player of the Year in 1983, led Marshall to four Final Four appearances in a row, including the state championship in 1982.
Pondexter, Illinois' Player of the Year in 2001, led Marshall to a state title in 1999. She recently was voted one of the top 15 players in the 15-year history of the WNBA.
Pointer, Illinois' Player of the Year in 1995, led her team to the state quarterfinals in 1995 and once scored 56 points in one game. She also played on a Final Four team at Rutgers.
Vines, an All-Stater in 1985, was the first city product to score more than 2,000 points in her career. She also was the first Chicago player to be recruited by legendary Tennessee coach Pat Summitt.
Ratay ranks No. 13 on the state's all-time scoring list with 2,740 points from 1995 to 1999. Regarded as the best three-point shooter in state history, she led Notre Dame to the NCAA title.
Others who were considered were Allison Curtin, Taylorville; Michele Savage, IHM; Nancy Kennelly, Maine West; Connie Erickson, Niles West; Kim McQuarter, Tony Foster and Jennifer Jones, Marshall; Tauja Catchings, Stevenson; Terri Zemaitis, Downers Grove South; Shirley Joiner, Phillips; Carol Owens, Chicago Notre Dame; Bebe McBride, Senn; Sarah Kustok, Sandburg; and Jackie Joyner-Kersee, East St. Louis Lincoln.