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.
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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.