Monday, April 30, 2018

Minnesota's 100 Best Centers Ever

            In the early days of basketball, the center was a playmaker, like a center in hockey (or a point guard today). The tallest players usually were guards, defenders, like hockey defensemen. But, by the 1930s, coaches began to deploy tall players at the center position, closer to the basket. By the 1940s, “tall” had come to mean not 6-feet or 6-2, but 6-5, 6-6, 6-8, 6-10, even 7-feet tall. With the really tall players then emerging, the center moved into the low post. The best ones became their team’s “designated shooter.”
            The low post dominated the game of basketball for 40 years or more, until the three-point shot ushered in more aggressive defenses and more of a full-court game. Today the center or post remains the tallest boy on the floor, generally, but it has become difficult to score down low, so the center now scores more like everybody else—he shoots the 3, and looks to score in transition. Oh, and he scores not like everybody else. The best posts still have a knack for scoring on the put-back.
            The best posts also are extremely valuable on defense—altering and blocking shots, and clogging up the lane, and denying second chance points to their opponents. But compared to the old days, well, kids don't really want to play the post anymore, and the best athletes generally do not. So, not a lot of our all-time great centers are recent players.

High School Resume’

Post-High School Highlights

1. Jim McIntyre, Minneapolis Patrick Henry 1945

Won 2 state titles in 1944 and 1945, setting tournament records with 29, 36 and 43 point games, and 86 and then 100 points in the 2 tournaments. He was also the 3rd boy ever to score 1,000 points in his career.

McIntyre earned all-America honors at the U of MN in 1948 and 1949, set Gopher scoring records for a game and a season, and set a Big 10 record for FG percentage. 

2. Randy Breuer, Lake City 1979

Led Lake City to the 1978 and 1979 Class A state titles, scoring a record 113 points in 1979. Co-Mr. Basketball 1979.

Led the U to the 1982 Big 10 title and scored 20 ppg in 1983. Scored 40 points for the MN Timberwolves in a 1990 game.

3. Ron Johnson, New Prague 1956

Led New Prague to its 1st state tournament entries in 25 years, and led all scorers with 94 and then a record 109 points. Retired as the #1 scorer all-time with 2,190 career points.

Earned all-America honors at the U of MN in 1959 and 1960. 

4. George Tuck, Minneapolis Central 1901

The 1900 MN Gophers (10-3) defeated Iowa 30-4 and Minneapolis Central 8-7. 

Helped the Gophers to mythical national titles in 1902 and 1903, and became the MN’s 1st all-American in 1905.

5. Howie Schultz, St. Paul Central 1941

Led St. Paul City Conference in scoring twice.

Starred at Hamline, then scored 8 ppg in 5 professional seasons. Also played MLB with the Brooklyn Dodgers.

6.  Johnny Horan, St. Thomas 1951

Horan led St. Thomas (29-0) to the MN state Catholic title and a match-game win over the Wisconsin champ. 

Nicknamed “The Vertical Hyphen” (he was 6-8, 190 lb.), Horan played college ball at Dayton, scoring 18 ppg as a senior. Played 19 NBA games.

7. Joel Przybilla, Monticello 1998

Przybilla was co-Mr. Basketball 1998. Still #1 in career blocks, and with 1,091 career rebounds.

Przybilla played 2 years at MN, scoring 14 ppg as a freshman. Averaged 6 points and 4 boards in almost 600 NBA games.

8. Cole Aldrich, Bloomington Jefferson 2007

Finished with 1,226 career rebounds, top 10 all-time at the time. Mr. Basketball finalist.

Scored 15 ppg as a soph, and played in NCAA championship game at Kansas, then played 84 NBA games in 3 seasons.

9 (tie). Burdette “Burdie” Halldorson, Austin, and Bill Simonovich, Gilbert, both 1951

Halldorson idn’t play varsity ball until his senior season, then got outscored 35-4 by “Big Bill” Simonovich in one of the first great matchups of big men in the state tournament. But he did score 26 ppg that year and became a great college player. 6-11 Simonovich outscored 6-8 Burdie Halldorson 35-4 in the 1stgreat matchup of big men at the state tournament. Gilbert went on to win the state title.

Burdie won all-Big 8 honors at Colorado, then set all-time scoring records in the NIBL and won 2 Olympic gold medals. Simonovich played for Hamline and the MN Gophers, starting for the Gophers as a junior in 1954 and scoring 15 ppg.

10. Daniel Oturu, Cretin-Derham Hall 2018

Led his team to the state title, and averaged 19-13-2-2 and 6 blocked shots as a senior. Left off all-tournament team in a fit of MSHSL pique after drawing a T in the 1sthalf of the final.

We have of course not yet seem him in action at the college level. He will play at Minnesota, and the upside potential clearly is there.

11. Chris Engler, Stillwater 1977

Co-led 1977 tournament in scoring with 27 ppg.

Scored 11.5 ppg as a senior at Wyoming, and played 195 NBA games in 5 seasons.

12. Nate Holmstadt, Monticello 1995 

Scored 2,106 points, with 1,132 rebounds. Still #8 with 419 blocks. Mr. Basketball finalist. 

Holmstadt scored 19 ppg in 2 years at Montana State.

13.  Chad Kolander, Owatonna 1990

Led Owatonna to 2 state Class AA titles, leading all scorers in 4 of the 6 tournament wins. Mr. Basketball 1990.

Started 73 games and played in 123 for the MN Gophers over 4 years, including the NIT champions of 1993. Completed his career in top 10 in both blocks and steals.

14 (tie). Stan Krebs, Eveleth 1970 and Como Pontliana, Duluth Central 1971

Krebs scored 2,081 career points and led his team to the state tournament despite playing with a broken foot. Also the #2 career rebounder to that time. Pontliana led Central to the 1st Class AA title with 104 points in 4 games.

Krebs played college ball at Augustana where he was all-NCC and scored 14.5 ppg as a senior. He is a member of the Augies’ Hall of Fame.P Pontliana played college ball at Colorado State.

15. Rudy Monson, Duluth Denfeld 1947

Led Denfeld to the 1947 state championship.

Played at UMD, where he is a member of their Hall of Fame.

16. Noah Dahlman, Braham 2007

Helped Braham to 3 straight state titles, scored 2,413 career points with 1,434 rebounds, #1 at the time. His 66 career FG percentage is still #7 all-time. Mr. Basketball finalist.

Played college ball at Wofford. He is their career scoring leader with 2,013 points, was 3-time all-conference, and conference Player of the Year and honorable mention all-America in 2010.

17 (tie). Clarence “Kleggie” Hermsen, Minneapolis Vocational 1940 and Donald “Red” Mattson, Minneapolis Marshall 1940

Mattson led his team to 2 state tournaments where they were favored each time to win the state title, but were upset by Mountain Lake and Breckenridge.

Hermsen played for the MN Gophers, then scored 9 ppg in 9 years as a pro. Mattson played at the U of MN, where in 1946 he lost his starting spot to Jim McIntyre.

18. Spencer Tollackson, Chaska 2004

Led Chaska to Class AAAA title. Mr. Basketball 2004.

Started for the MN Gophers and scored 8 ppg over 4 years.

19. Nick Horvath, Mounds View 1999

Led all tournament scorers with 77 points for state champs. Mr. Basketball 1999.

Played college ball at Duke.

20. Tom Masterson, Walnut Grove 1968

Led his team to the state tournament, where he scored 55 points in 2 games.

Played 4 years with the MN Gophers, where he was the #8 career rebounder at the time.

21. Arvid Kramer, Fulda 1975

Led his team to the 1975 state tournament.

Scored 16 ppg in 4 years at Augustana. Played 8 NBA games, and played pro ball in Europe.

22. Jared Berggren, Princeton 2008

Finished his career as the #7 shot blocker in state history. Mr. Basekeball finalist in 2008.

Scored 11 ppg with 7 rebounds in his senior year at Wisconsin.

23. Don Dale, Robbinsdale 1950

Led Robbinsdale to the state finals by scoring 80 points in 3 tournament games, then 2nd only to Jim McIntyre. Finished his high school career with 1,162 points.

Played freshman ball at the U of MN but never played on the varsity.

24. Mel Northway, Minneapolis Central 1961

Still the #5 career rebounder for the MN Gophers.

25. John Thomas, Minneapolis Roosevelt 1993

Thomas scored 7 ppg over 4 years with MN, and helped the Gophers to the 1997 Final 4. He also scored 3 ppg in 208 NBA games over 5 seasons.

26. Lance Berwald, Minneapolis Washburn 1979

Lettered 2 years at Nebraska and 2 at NDSU, where he holds school records for FG percentage in a season and career. His 53 points is still the NCC record for points in a game.

27. Jimmy Jensen, Bemidji 1978

Scored a record 50 points in 1 state tournament game, and finished his career with 1,763 points. Mr. Basketball in 1978.

28. Joe Regnier, White Bear Lake 1985

Led the Bears to 2 state titles, leading his team in scoring in 4 of 6 tournament wins. Mr. Basketball finalist. 

Earned all-NCC honors twice at North Dakota State.

29. Ed Nylund, Buhl 1942

Led Buhl to consecutive state titles in 1941 and 1942 earning all-tournament honors each year.

30. Brian Pederson, Prior Lake 1978

Led Prior Lake to the Class AA state title, scored 1,154 career points, and won Mr. Basketball honors in 1978.

Went to the U of MN but his college career was cut short by injuries.

31. Tryg Johnson, Anoka, 1981

Led Tornadoes to the state title.

Montana State starter 4 years.

32 (tie). Darrin Kent, Eastview 2005 and Dan Vandervieren, Hopkins 2006

Kent led his team to 2ndplace in Class AAA in 2005, losing only to Blake Hoffarber’s “butt shot.” Vandevieren was Hoffarber’s teammate on 2 state  champions.

Kent played 4 years at Kansas State. Vandevieren played college ball at Purdue, Colorado State and Concordia (St. Paul).

33. Alec Brown, Winona 2010

Led Winona to the state tournament with 7 school records including 44 points in a game and 141 blocks in a season.

Scored 1,082 career points with double figures in 58 games, plus 583 rebounds in 4 years at UW-Green Bay.

34. Ray Wall, Mountain Lake 1947 

Only the 2ndplayer ever to lead the state tournament in scoring 2 years, leading Mountain Lake to 3rdplace in 1946 and 1947.

35. Nate Althoff, Delano 1997

Shot 70 percent from the field for his career, #2 all-time in the state.

Played 4 years and started 2 at Utah, scored 6.5 ppg on 61 pct shooting.

36. Jim Korth, Mankato Loyola 1945

Won 1945 state Catholic title. 2nd boy ever to score 1,000 points in his high school career.

Played at Mankato State.

37. Ray “Swede” Nelson, St. Paul Mechanic Arts 1926

Led the Trainers to the 1925 state title, and led the St. Paul City Conference in scoring twice.
Helped his team to the 1939 state title.

38. Ray Buffalo, DeLaSalle 1931 

Led the Islanders to the national Catholic title. Rortvedt 

Buffalo became a Minneapolis softball legend. 

39. Bob Martin, Apple Valley 1988

Led his team to its first state tournament, and won the AA consolation title. Mr. Basketball finalist.

Played 4 years with MN Gophers, scoring about 5 ppg, plus 55 NBA games in 2 seasons.

40. Dave Lobb, Austin Pacelli 1965

Led Pacelli to the state Catholic title and finished his career with 1,068 points.

Did not play hoops after high school, turned pro as a baseball pitcher.

41. Sam Dower, Osseo 2010

Helped Osseo to the 2010 state tournament.

Scored 7.5 ppg on 56 percent shooting in 3 years at Gonzaga.

42. Urule Igbavboa, Tartan 2005

Helped Tartan to the 2005 state tournament.

Scored 10 ppg over 4 years at Valpo. Played pro ball in Europe.

43. Mark Lindahl, Duluth East 1972

Scored 1,113 career points.

Played at North Dakota where he twice earned all-NCC honors. Played pro ball in Europe.

44. Ron Falenschek, Brainerd 1979

Scored 20 ppg as a senior to lead his team to the state tournament.

Started for 3.5 years at Iowa State. 

45. Ian Theisen, Osseo 2014

Led Orioles to 3 state tournaments. Won state title in 2012 beating Hopkins 87-86 in 3 OT, then Theisen made winning shot at the buzzer in the final. Scored 1,590 points with 1,083 boards with 59 FG percentage.

Played at South Dakota State.

46. Reggie Lynch, Edina 2013

Helped Edina to 3rd place in AAAA in his senior season.

Spent 2 years at Illinois State before returning to the U of M.

47. Jerry Holmen, St. Paul Humboldt 1999

Holmen scored 9 ppg with 5 rebounds over 2 years at MN.

48. Josh Quigley, Duluth East 1995

Led Duluth East to the 1995 Sweet 16 state tournament.

Little All-America at UMD in 2000.

49 (tie). Dave Daugherty, Rochester John Marshall and Tom Weaver, Faribault 1965

Big 9 rivals and runners-up in the state tournament (JM in 1964, Faribault in 1965).

Daugherty played college ball at William & Mary, Weaver at Carleton.

50. Mike Broghammer, Hopkins 2009

Helped his team to state title.

Played college ball at Notre Dame.

51. Big Bill Ekberg, Minneapolis Marshall 1941

Played college ball at Army.

52. Harold Bergstedt, Esko 1955

Led the Eskomoes to the 1955 state tournament at 26-1. Scored 28.5 ppg that year, and is still  Esko’s top career scorer.

Played 4 years at UMD.

53. Otto “Hans” Rortvedt, Henning 1927

Led Henning to the state Class B title, scoring 22 points in 1 game and 37 overall

Led Augsburg to the 1928 MIAC title, and is a member of the Auggies’ Hall of Fame. 

54. Brad Dudek, Duluth East 1982

Led the Greyhounds to 2 state tournaments. Mr. Basketball finalist in 1982.

Played college ball at Iowa State and UMD.

55. Frank Cleve, Minneapolis South 1920

Starred in 1920 state tournament.

All-state at St. Olaf. Coached Concordia (Moorhead) to its only MIAC title before 1982 and Jim McIntyre at Minneapolis Henry.

56. Raymond Hanson, Red Wing 1915

Was player-coach of state title team.

Was football, baseball, basketball coach and AD at Western Illinois for more than 30 years.

57 (tie). Norm Galloway 1936 and Wes Sabourin 1948, both Bemidji

Led Bemidji to the 1936 and 1948  state titles. Galloway was 2-time all-tournament.

Galloway played at MN and Bemidji State. Sabourin played 1 year at MN.

58. Paul Van Den Einde, Willmar 1983

Led Willmar to the state tournament

Played 2 years for the MN Gophers before transferring out.

59. Henry (Hank) Epp, Mountain Lake 1940

Helped his team to the 1939 state title.

Led Mankato State to runner-up in NAIA in 1948.

60. Dick Ravenhorst, Austin 1946

Led the Packers to the state title, leading all scorers with 24 and 19 points in 2 of the 3 wins.

61. (tie). Curt Schilling 2004 and Trevor Gruis 2009, both Ellsworth

Schilling scored 2,255 career points and led his team to 2ndplace in 2004 state tournament. Gruis played in 4 state tournaments, winning all-tournament honors 3 times, with state titles in 2007 and 2008.

Schilling played college ball at Northwestern IA, Gruis at South Dakota.

62. Bill Mattson, Virginia 1958

Scored 1,132 points in his high school career.

Helped UMD to 3 MIAC titles in 4 years as a starter for the Bulldogs.

63. Jeff Hagen, Hopkins 2000

Scored 6 ppg in 4 years at MN.

64. Bob Rosier, Onamia Crosier 1970

Scored 2,133 points at St. Thomas, where he is a member of the Hall of Fame

65. Bret Brielmaier, Mankato Loyola 2004

Helped his team to the 2003 Class A title.

Scored 2 ppg in 92 games at Arizona.

66 (tie). Paul Knight 1965, Jake Kuppe 1999, and C.J. Erickson, 2008, all Minnetonka

All helped the Skippers to a state title.

Kuppe played football at the U of M. Erickson played basketball at Evansville and Winona State.

67. Jim Smith, Brainerd 1951

Scored 1,376 career points.

68 (tie). Jim Springer, Minneapolis West, 1962; Carl Johnson, Balaton, 1966; Erik Allen, LeSeuer 1988

Johnson scored 1,294 points in his high school career, and once scored 62 points in a game, #3 all-time at the time. Allen led all scorers in 1988 state tournament with 85 points.

All 3 played for Gustavus. Springer scored 1,662 points, Johson 1,528 points and both led Gustavus to 3 championship seasons; Johnson is a member of the Gustavus Hall of Fame.

69 (tie). Peter DanColovic 1923 and Bill Wrage 1956, both Aurora

Both led their team to the state tournament, where Aurora won the 1923 title. 

Wrage played semi-pro ball. His sister Jackie played for the All-American Redheads.

70. Alex Illikainen, Grand Rapids 2014

Transferred to Brewster Academy, Wolfboro, NH, for his final year of school.

Playing college ball at Wisconsin.

71. Brock Bertram, Apple Valley 2016

Helped his team to state titles in his freshman and junior years.

Playing college ball at Buffalo.

72. David Holmgren, Prior Lake 1983

Earned 2 letters at the U of M before bad knees ended his career.

73. Pete Castle, Anoka, 1950

Led Anoka to the 1949 state tournament and finished his career with 1,170 points.

74. Kyle Sandeen, Thief River Falls

Scored 4 ppg over 3 years with the MN Gophers.

75. Javier Collins, St. Thomas 1996

Helped his team to the Sweet 16 tournament where they nearly upset Minneapolis North.

Played football at Northwestern and for the Dallas Cowboys.

76 (tie). Bob Freund 1956 and Greg Larson 1957, Minneapolis Roosevelt 

Freund was Roosevelt’s leading scorer, but did not make the all-tournament team.

Larson played football for the Gophers 1960 national champs.

77. Josh Ziemke, Janesville-Waldorf-Pemberton 1997

Led his team to the 1996 Sweet Sixteen tournament. Corraled 1,011 career rebounds. 

Scored 13 ppg with 7.5 rebounds at Mankato State.

78. James Davis, Minneapolis North 2003

Helped his team to the Class AA title, scoring 26 points in the 2OT final.

79. Mike Kochevar 1973, Chisholm

Led his team to Class A championship.

80 (tie). Everett Hansen 1933 and Maynard Meyers 1952, both Mountain Lake

Hanson led the 1933 state tournament in scoring with 14 ppg. Meyers led in 1952 with 17.

81. Walt Andrewski, Minneapolis Edison 1937

All-tournament for one of Minnesota’s greatest teams.

82 (tie). Ervin Mickelson 1953 and Herb Mickelson 1947, both Canby

Erv scored 1,326 career points, Herb 1,026 (#4 all-time at the time). Erv led Canby to runner-up in the 1951 state tournament.

Erv played college ball at St. Olaf.

83 (tie). Dennis Riley 1970 and Tom Fix 1975, both Robbinsdale

Both led their team to the state tournament. Riley led all scorers in all 3 games for a total of 64. Fix scored 43 points in 2 tournament wins and 1,139 for his career. 

84 (tie). Loren Erickson and Greg Kettler, Anoka 1973

Led the tallest team ever to play in the state tournament to the 1973 Class AA and overall titles. 

85. Joe Hedstrom, Hopkins 2018

A late bloomer who scored 9 ppg as a senior. 

Coach Ken Novak insists he’ll be very good as a junior in college. He is going to Wisconsin.

86. Trevor Winter, Slayton 1992

Played college ball at Minnesota. Played 1 NBA game, getting 5 fouls in 5 minutes vs. Shaquille O’Neal.

87. Cullen Ober, Glencoe 1987

Scored 1,163 points at South Dakota State.

88. Ted Burke, Stewart 1966

Scored 1,801 career points.

Played football at the U of MN.

89. Corey Zimmerman, Moorhead 1992

Still #8 best FG percentage in a season at 65.26 percent in 1992, in leading his team to the state tournament. 

Now coach at Moorhead.

90 (tie). Randy Holthusen 1996 and Delwyn Holthusen 1999, both Red Lake 

Randy scored 2,246 career points, Delwyn scored 30 points in famous 117-113 state tournament loss to Wabasso.

91. Gene Volz, Janesville 1956

Scored 1,291 points, #15 at the time. His 40 FG attempts in 1 game is still #5 all-time.

Played college ball at Gonzaga.

92. Eric Sczublewski, Little Falls 1994

#1 all-time in career and #3 for season FG percentage.

Earned all-conference honors at UMM.

93 (tie). Fred 1960 Izzy 1961 and Joe 1963 Schmiesing, all Sauk Centre

Izzy and Joe each led Sauk to the state tournament.

94. Justin Dahl, Holy Family 2014

Averaged 19 ppg, 17 rebounds, 3.5 blocks as a senior. 2ndteam all-state and all-tournament.

Playing at Northern Iowa.

95 (tie). James Longtin 1953 and Greg Lens 1963, both Marshall Central Catholic

Longtin scored 1,510 points, then #2 all-time, while Lens scored 1,365 and once scored 61 points in a game, #3 at the time.

96. Rolf Iverson, Waseca 1969

Led Bluejays to #1 rating.

Played college ball at St. Olaf.

97. Bob Wagner, Hopkins 1952

First black player to win a state title and all-tournament honors.

98 (tie). Elgar Thune 1918 and Leonard Thune 1919, both Albert Lea

Led Albert Lea to 8 wins in 10 tournament games, including winning the 1919 state title.

Elgar coached Moorhead’s tournament entries in 1924 and 1925.

99. Chuck Hartupee, Red Wing 1922

Helped his team to the state title.

Played college ball at Hamline, where he was all-state.

100. Carter Kirk, Mountain Lake 2014

Scored 2,150 career points and led his team to 2 state tournaments.

Played college ball at Southwest Minnesota State.

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