High School Basketball

A decade of stars

Merry Christmas.

Taking my cue from the fat guy in the red suit, I made a list and checked it twice to come up with an All-Decade (2000-09) boys' basketball team.

Instead of selecting the 10 best players regardless of position (like an All-State team), I decided to pick a starting five, plus three guys to come off the bench. At the least, I had to have a point guard, a shooting guard, an inside scorer and a strong rebounder on the floor.

There weren't many easy choices, so I decided to put together a second eight-man team, too.

I doubt that four of my first-team players would prompt much argument.

Before Rajon Rondo left Eastern after his junior year for Oak Hill Academy, he had established himself as a once-in-a-decade talent. He's gone on to prove that with the Boston Celtics.

Choosing Chris Lofton was a no-brainer. He's the best pure shooter I've seen in Kentucky high school hoops in the past 30 years.

Shelvin Mack was the hardest working young man in high school hoops, and he had a skills package to go with his hustle.

Steffphon Pettigrew was a bigger version of Mack in the effort department and a relentless rebounder.

Justin Doellman might qualify as a surprise pick to some people. But at 6-foot-8, he could do it all, inside and out.

My bench guys would be great in relief. Darius Miller could play any of the five positions. Patrick Sparks would provide an immediate spark. Michael Haney would be a bruising presence inside.

My second team is headed by A.J. Slaughter, an accomplished hoops quarterback, and sidekick Preston Knowles would be Mr. Energy.

Scott Hundley and Ross Neltner would provide toughness. Both were lunch-pail players who would scrap and claw and run through a wall to get a rebound.

I wavered on whether to put Scotty Hopson on any kind of all-decade team. There's no doubting his talent, but his engine seemed to be stuck in idle in high school. I'm guessing that if he didn't get it in gear, Hundley and Neltner would give him a not-so-gentle push in the right direction.

Coming off the bench, Ty Rogers could bust a zone, Brandon Stockton could run the point, and Ricardo Johnson would do anything that needed to be done.

If you expected to find O.J. Mayo among my picks, sorry. He helped Rose Hill reach the Sweet Sixteen as a seventh-grader in 2002, but he bolted for Cincinnati North College Hill after his eighth-grade season. He transferred again, before his senior year, to Huntington in West Virginia.

Kentucky high school hoops didn't miss him a bit.

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