On Friday, the Observer released a list of the top 10 boys’ high school basketball teams ever from North Carolina.
To compile that list, the Observer asked a panel of experts for their opinions. On Saturday, I got a decent amount of texts and emails asking what would an all-time Mecklenburg County list look like. This is my attempt at a top 10, using some of the direction I received from the panel. With some of the teams named by the panel, here’s my attempt at filling in the blanks:
10. Olympic, 2013: By the start of the 2012-13 season, the Trojans were building a bona-fide state power, but were always overshadowed by other dominant county teams despite making two straight trips to the N.C. 4A Western regional round. That changed in the winter of 2013. Olympic finished the season 30-0 and won the school’s first major sports championship. Coach Ty Baumgardner received 15 of a possible 22 votes from a panel of N.C sportswriters to earn N.C. Associated Press state coach of the year after leading his team to the first unbeaten season by a Mecklenburg County boys’ team since West Charlotte in 1986. Olympic, ranked No. 1 in the Sweet 16 and as high as No. 4 nationally, beat Raleigh Broughton 56-53 in the state finals, led by 19 points from championship MVP Deriece Parks and 17 points from current Ohio State guard C.J. Jackson.
9. United Faith 2009-10: Coach Shaun Wiseman’s back-to-back state championship team was loaded with major-college talent, including perhaps the best guard to ever play in Mecklenburg County, two-time Observer Player of the Year Ian Miller. In the 2009 1A private schools finals, Miller hit a 40-foot jumper at the buzzer to beat Raleigh Word of God 56-53 and deny the Holy Rams and future Kentucky star and NBA lottery pick John Wall a third straight title. Miller scored 80 points in three tournament games. The next season, Miller had 33 points, 10 rebounds, four assists and two steals as the Falcons beat Greenfield School 84-74. By then, Paris Roberts Campbell was a budding Falcons star. In 2008, he played on East Mecklenburg’s 4A public school champion. In 2009, he made 10 straight 3-pointers during warmups for United Faith, a 1A private school, and hit five in the back-to-back finals win. He finished with 18 points.
8. West Charlotte, 1986: The Lions won the first of three state titles in seven years, led by a 6-foot-4 senior center named Kevin Reid. Reid led West Charlotte to a 29-0 record and a 67-66 win over Raleigh Broughton in the N.C. 4A championship. Reid had 13 points in the game and averaged 13.5 points and 11.8 rebounds for the season. He was named the Observer’s player of the year. West Charlotte was picked No. 1 in the Sweet 16 in preseason and finished there in a season in which Mecklenburg County produced three basketball state champions: the Lions’ boys, the Providence Day boys and North Mecklenburg’s girls, led by All-American Andrea Stinson.
7. Independence, 1997: Coach Tony Huggins’ Patriots didn’t have a star, if you didn’t count football All-American DeAngelo Lloyd, but they did have a deep belief that the 1996-97 season was going to be their year. Huggins had seven players back from a team that was 21-5 and reached the sectional finals the year before. Independence finished 28-3, ranked nationally by USA Today and won the school’s first state championship. Future Charlotte 49ers star Jobey Thomas - who averaged 13 points to lead the team - made 3-of-4 free throws in the final 65 seconds to clinch an 82-80 win over Richmond Senior in the state final. Current Patriots coach Preston Davis was a 6-8 center on that team. This season, he’s led Independence to the state semifinals. Independence was scheduled to play Rocky River Saturday afternoon, March 3, for a berth in the state finals.
6. Northside Christian, 2014: In the 2013-14 season, Northside coach Byron Dinkins produced his best team. Led by future St. Joseph’s star James Demery and future Wake Forest star Keyshawn Woods, the Knights earned a national ranking and a bid to the DICKS’ National Championship in New York. Along the way, Woods became the Observer’s player of the year and Dinkins the coach of the year. Northside, which beat Concord First Assembly 87-68 to win a third straight state title, finished 28-2. At the time, Dinkins’ career record was 117-8.
5. West Charlotte, 1966: The team, which wasn't yet in the N.C. High School Athletic Association, finished 19-1 and won a state title for legendary coach Charles McCullough. Center C.J. Montgomery, a 6-6 center, led a talented Lions team, along with Daryl Cherry, who some believe was the best high school football, basketball and baseball player in Charlotte -- all in that same year. How good was that West Charlotte team? Well, the 1965-66 Durham Hillside “Pony Express” has long been considered one of the state’s best-ever teams, as it averaged 105 points in an era without a 3-point field goal, and scored 147 points in a game against Rocky Mount’s Booker T. Washington High that season. West Charlotte beat Hillside 96-66 in the state finals.
4. North Mecklenburg, 2005: Led by junior All-American Jamie Skeen, the Vikings held 17 opponents to 50 points or less and finished with a 20-game win streak and a No. 15 national ranking. After starting No. 1 in the Sweet 16, the Vikings - who won by an average of 23 points - brought home the school's first Sweet 16 and state championship. North finished 31-1. In 2006, North Mecklenburg returned with four new starters and lost Skeen, the reigning N.C. Associated Press Player of the Year, for half the season after knee surgery. The Vikings still reached the state finals and missed a shot at the buzzer that would’ve forced overtime in a 45-43 loss to Raleigh Wakefield.
3. South Mecklenburg, 1972: Coach Dave Price’s Sabres dominated the ’70s, winning titles in 1970, 71, 72 and ’76. In 1969, they won Price his first conference championship and the team lost in the playoffs to Greensboro Smith and future NBA and North Carolina star Bob McAdoo. In 1970, senior Bobby Jones developed into the state's best player and the Sabres (26-2) beat Wilmington Hoggard 59-58 for the state title. But in 1971 and '72, the Sabres lost one game, in 1971 to Hickory. The ’72 team went unbeaten at 26-0.
2. Providence Day, 2016: The Chargers, who finished with a top 20 national ranking and a spot in the DICKS’ national field in New York, won a private schools 3A state title that MaxPreps said was one of the five toughest nationally to get. Providence Day beat future NBA lottery pick Bam Adebayo’s High Point Christian team in the finals. Three of those Chargers play in college now: Josh Howard, son of Michigan “Fab 5” star Juwan Howard, is at Brown; Isaac Johnson is at Appalachian State; and two-time Observer Player of the Year Grant Williams, an SEC Player of the Year candidate, is at Tennessee. Current seniors Devon Dotson (McDonald’s All-American signed with Kansas) and Trey Wertz (McDonald’s All-American nominee signed with Santa Clara) were starters. Dotson and Wertz are multiple time all-state performers who recently were named to the Esmark High School All-American team.
1. West Charlotte, 1999: All-American Jason Parker won back-to-back N.C. Associated Press Player of the Year awards. His ’99 team was deep, with so much Division I college talent coming off the bench that two future college stars - Justin Gray (Wake Forest) and Curtis Withers (Charlotte 49ers) - had to stay on junior varsity . Eight years ago, Withers was voted one of the Observer's top players of the Sweet 16 era, which started in 1984-85. Parker had the flu the week of the state finals but finished with 38 points, 12 rebounds, four blocks and five dunks in an 84-67 win over Wilmington Laney. The Lions finished 30-2, losing to national powers Durham Mount Zion and Oak Hill Academy (Va.), and had a top 10 USA Today national ranking.
All-Time NCHSAA, NCISAA Boys’ Basketball State Champions from Mecklenburg County
Carmel Christian (2018)
Charlotte Catholic (2016)
Charlotte Christian (1992, ‘97, 2001)
Charlotte Latin (1991, ‘93, ‘94, ‘03, ‘04)
East Mecklenburg (2008)
North Mecklenburg (1995)
Northside Christian (2012-14)
Providence Day (1981, ‘85, ‘86, ‘98, ‘99, 2016)
South Mecklenburg (1970-72, 76)
United Faith (2009-10)
Victory Christian (1995-99, ‘03, ‘07, ‘08, 2010)
West Charlotte (1986, ‘91, ‘92, ‘99, 2011)