OK, it’s day two of my personal list of the top 50 City League basketball players I have seen. Remember, my frame of reference begins in about 1962, when I was but a wee lad. So it’s not like I was zoning in on guys at that age and able to analyze their strengths and weaknesses. Craig Nicholson, a senior this season, drives for a basket for Northwest. Nicholson is No. 40 on Bob Lutz's personal City League Top 50 list. But I was paying attention. And I feel comfortable going back into those years.
I consider myself to be knowledgeable about City League hoops. I love City League hoops. And I love the players who have made this league, for decades, the best in the state of Kansas.
This list is meant to spark recollections and perhaps begin a debate. It’s intent is not to anger. If someone’s feelings are hurt by being left off the list, I apologize. It does not mean you weren’t a fantastic player. It simply means that to pare this list to 50 was difficult.
Here are the players who rank from No. 31 to No. 40 on my list. Enjoy.
40) Craig Nicholson, Northwest – Nicholson is a current-day player and he has the distinction of being the third best player in a league that includes Perry Ellis and Conner Frankamp. Because you hear so much about those guys, you don’t hear as much as you should about Nicholson, a really good guard.
39) Greg Williams, Southeast – Williams, like Nicholson, was somewhat overshadowed during his day. He played for the Buffs at a time when Ricky Ross, Antoine Carr and others were hogging the spotlight. But what a tremendous forward Williams was.
38) Leroy Leep, North – Leep could score and rebound. He was quicker than he looked for the Redskins in the mid-1970s, when North was loaded with talent.
37) Jordan Cyphers, Southeast – Cyphers was an outstanding scorer for the Buffs a few years back and helped SE win a state championship in 2008.
36) Mark Hutton, East – This 6-foot-8 left-hander could really score around the basket. What a tremendous athlete. I knew the first time I saw Hutton play how special he was.
35) Larry Dennis, North – Another of those fantastic North athletes of the 1970s, Dennis was silky. And calling a basketball player “silky” is a high compliment.
34) Chris Boyd, East – I’m not sure Boyd ever reached his potential. But few players in league history have been blessed with such potential. The 6-8 Boyd made an immediate impact as a sophomore in 1976.
33) Cortez Barnes, Heights – The best player on Heights’ late 1980s and 1990 teams that were loaded with Division I athletes. There wasn’t anything the 6-8 Barnes couldn’t do.
32) Nate Payne, Southeast – A strong guard for the Buffaloes during the early-1970s, Payne physically outmatched most of his opponents.
31) Calvin Alexander, Heights – There were times that Alexander, who played for the Falcons under Lafayette Norwood, was the best player on his team. And that’s saying a lot since his teammates included Darnell Valentine, Antoine Carr and Doc Holden.