As I’ve been telling you all week, this list is my list. Nobody else’s. And it is not meant to be a definitive list of the City League’s top players.
It’s a list of the best players I have seen in my 50 years of watching City League hoops. Now, mind you, I started going to games when I Former Wichita East basketball standout had a brief NBA career with the Detroit Pistons. was 7. How much does a kid that age really take in? It’s a fair question.
That said, some of my earliest memories of sports involve basketball. One of the guys who falls in the 11-20 range, who you’ll read about shortly, played in the first high school basketball game I remember seeing.
It’s been a fun list to put together. And every player on this list was at least – at least – chosen to The Wichita Eagle’s All-City team. Most, of course, were All-State players.
Tomorrow, I divulge my Top 10. Today, players who just missed getting into that group.
20) Riney Lochmann, North – I saw Lochmann play for the Redskins during a Saturday afternoon game in Derby way, way, way back. It was the first high school game I saw, I believe. And it was televised by KAKE. My recollection is that Derby won the game. Anyway, Lochmann was a 6-6 forward who could really score, one of the finest players of his era.
19) Johnny Murdock, South – It’s so difficult to distinguish the South players who were coached by Steve Eck. Murdock started his high school career as a pudgy kid who looked overmatched. By the time he was a junior, though, he was a star and one of the best all-around players in the City League’s history.
18) Steve Woodberry, South – This is another player who made immense improvement during his time with Eck. He was so skinny when he first arrived at South. But as his body grew and he became stronger, he was able to show off his myriad of skills. Woodberry didn’t have a weakness in his game. He could do it all.
17) Mike Hollimon, East – Sometime it would be fun just to pick an all-time top 50 list from East. Hollimon was the most dominant player on some outstanding East teams during the mid-1960s under legendary coach Cy Sickles, teams that might have won some state championships had it not been for the dominance of Kansas City Wyandotte during that era.
16) Val Barnes, South – Another South player. Another Eck player. And another really, really good player. The 6-foot-2 Barnes was relentless, one of the most hard-charging players I’ve ever seen. He wasn’t a great shooter, but he was a great scorer. He found ways. He’s one of those guys who always found ways.
15) Gaylon Nickerson, North – Nickerson made a huge impact as a sophomore when he helped North win the 6A state championship in 1987. His high school career blossomed from there. In the 55-year history of the City League, I dare say there haven’t been more than a handful of better athletes come along than Skip Nickerson.
14) Kelly Pete, East – Pete might be one of those handful. He was a 6-2 piece of rock, strong to the point that his strength helped cover some deficiencies in his game at the high school level. Pete, who led East to a 1962 state championship, could take over a high school game based on his physical attributes alone. And the deeper he got into his prep career, the more his skills advanced.
13) Warren Hollins, Heights – I’ll just go ahead and admit it, I loved Hollins. When he played for the Falcons – Hollins was an All-State player in 1970 – he reminded me of former Wichita State player Warren Armstrong, one of my favorite all-time Shockers. Hollins had that freaky athleticism in that he could do things that defied his size. Ask the old-timers around the City League about Warren Hollins. They’ll have stories.
12) Jamie Thompson, East – These are big names we’re discussing now. Thompson is another one of my personal favorities. He wasn’t very fast. He couldn’t jump high. But boy, could he shoot. And he had the kind of basketball instincts that can’t be taught. Thompson and Pete provided the Blue Aces with, in my opinion, the best duo in City League history. And it was neat that they went on to become teammates at Wichita State.
11) Korleone Young, East – If Young had played his senior season at East instead of transferring to Hargrave Military Academy in Virginia for his senior year, he would definitely be inside the top 10 on this list. Young made the All-State team as a sophomore and as a junior and was one of the most dominant athletes to ever play in the City League. At 6-8, he could play like a 6-2 guard or a 6-11 center.