As you know, Hamburg native Scottie Pippen made the original Dream Team in 1992 and the 1996 Olympic team which grabbed Gold in Atlanta. Pippen made by far the greatest splash of any national team Arkansan, but he wasn’t the first to do so in an Olympics. That honor goes to Gordon Carpenter, native of Ash Flat in northeast Arkansas. And there are plenty others who have made national teams for other competitions. Below, I present the first (and I will bet you $25 only) comprehensive list anybody has ever bothered to assemble on the topic:
1. Gordon Carpenter
Carpenter, a 6’6″, 200-pound big affectionately known as “Shorty,” was one of Arkansas’ first great basketball players. He led Ash Flat in northeast Arkansas to the 1939, upsetting much bigger teams in Little Rock and Pine Bluff, and then went on to star on the University of Arkansas’ first Final Four team in 1941. He led the Hogs to their first undefeated SWC record and ended his college career on the All-SWC team.
He then played for the Phillips 66 powerhouse basketball team, which was technically amateur and allowed him to retain eligibility for international play (the Olympics were then off-limits to paid professional athletes). The Phillips 66 team was on par with the best professional teams of the era, and Carpenter helped lead them to six straight national titles. He made the AAU All-America team each year from 1943-1947 and helped his team qualify to represent the U.S. in the 1948 Olympics by beating the University of Kentucky in a Madison Square Garden (weird, I know).
In those London Olympics, Carpenter had a turn as hero, according to this book. In a game against Argentina, the U.S. was trailing by six points with four minutes to go. Coach then inserted Carpenter and he scored 10 points in two minutes to help the Americans turn the tide and win. The final score of the game was 59-57, according to linguasport.com.
Two years later, Carpenter became head coach of the national team at the first basketball World Championship (now called the basketball World Cup) in 1950. The host nation, Argentina, took Gold and the U.S. took Silver.
A native of Tuckerman in Sharp Co., the 6’8″, 240-pound Barnes trumps Corliss Williamson, Andrew Lang (and so far Bobby Portis) as the most dominant collegian big man the state has produced. He was dirt poor as a child, often playing in socks because his family couldn’t afford shoes. Around 18 years of age, he moved to Oklahoma to finish high school. Barnes then dominated junior college competition for two years, and then did the same at Texas Western. He averaged 29 points and 19 rebounds his senior year, and a few months later became the first of two Arkansans ever drafted #1 overall in an NBA or NFL draft.
Before his pro career, though, Barnes traveled to Tokyo with other top collegians like Larry Brown and Bill Bradley. He was the fifth-leading scorer on the Gold-winning team. In the Finals, the U.S. squared off against the U.S.S.R. Barnes’ speed and agility, like center Bill Russell’s four years before, was a big reason the Soviets could not hang with the Americans.
That team’s head coach was Henry Iba, who happened to the mentor of Barnes’ college coach Don Haskins. Coincidentally, Haskins became the mentor to Nolan Richardson, one of Barnes’ Texas Western teammates. Richardson thought highly of Barnes’ character: “Jim was one of those men who was thrilled to play for their country. He took the opportunity seriously and played every possession hard.”
3, Sidney Moncrief
When it comes to Moncrief and Larry Bird sharing the same court, the headliner will forever be their legendary showdown in the Elite Eight of the 1979 NCAA Tournament. Before these two All-Americans clashed in front of a national audience, though, they had two summers before joined forces to topple other countries.
In 1977, the Little Rock native represented the U.S. in the World University Games (similar to what would be a U-21 competition today). Moncrief helped the U.S. tear through the event, in Bulgaria, with an 8-0 record. He led the Americans with 16 points in the finals against the U.S.S.R.
Undoubtedly, Sid shot the ball at a high clip that tourney. It’s amazing to think that as a freshman, the 6’4″ forward led the entire nation in field goal percentage, as this July 26, 1977 article points out:
NB: You’ll notice one of the assistant coaches was none other than Bill Vining of Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia. The national team program wanted coaches from all levels of college basketball, and Vining, being the small college level bad-ass he was, was selected to rep that segment.
4. Marvin Delph
Another one of Arkansas’ famed Triplets, Delph was a part of a wonky 1978 World Championship team made up of neither college or professional players. College players should have filled out its roster but by October – when the event occurred – they were already in preseason and prohibited from competing.
So the U.S. sent a squad made up mostly of Athletes In Action (a religious organization) ballers, and finished 6-4. This isn’t all that bad considering many of the communist national teams were made up of essentially professional players who had state-provided sinecure jobs.
Delph, a Conway native, averaged only 5.5. points in the six games he played. But hey, the U.S. was 5-1 in those games (losing only to the U.S.S.R.), so that’s something.
In terms of basketball talent, Arkansas is in a golden era, producing elite players at a clip not seen in decades. But when it comes to national team recognition, the state is in a bit of a drought. Since 1996, only one native Arkansan has made a U.S. senior national team. In recent years, two of the state’s best young players – Anton Beard and Malik Monk – were in the running to make junior national teams at the U16 and U17 levels but were both cut multiple times. Monk’s most recent exclusion, which occurred last weekend, is the most surprising.
Monk, a consensus Top 15 player in the class of 2016, had a memorable summer torching foes as a headliner with the Arkansas Wings in Nike’s prestigious EYBL circuit (essentially, the Champions League of prep basketball). The 6’3″ shooting guard broke scoring records and put up 40 and 59 points while making a strong case that Arkansas, for likely the first time ever, is home to the nation’s most electrifying high school player*. The Arkansas Wings founder Ron Crawford, who has coached in the U.S. youth developmental system, said last week he believed there was “no doubt” Monk would make the U17 national team.
But after a three-day audition in Colorado involving 33 players, Monk was among the first cut. If the experience becomes a valuable lesson, this isn’t necessarily bad thing for Malik. He strives, after all, to become a world-class point guard, and none other than John Stockton – one of the top point guards of all time – was cut from the 1984 Olympic team. Monk already is one of the most athletic prospects we’ve ever seen at the guard position. Two of the most freakishly athletic forwards in the history of the game, Charles Barkley and Blake Griffin, were also cut from national teams.
Stockton, Barkley and Griffin all bounced back from their disappointments to become NBA All-Star caliber players. For Monk to one day do the same, he’ll have to keep improving. He must become a more consistent shooter and better decision maker, his older brother Marcus Monk said. “He’s really been working on his distribution as far as his passing skills and making better decisions with the ball. He’s improved in that area some.”
But Malik isn’t yet the well-rounded player his coaches and (potential) national team coaches want him to be. In the five games he played in the EYBL Finals, the only standard statistical category he led the Wings in was points (18.8 ppg). He finished second in blocks (0.4) and assists (2.6), third in steals (1.6) and fifth in rebounds (3.5).
Honing shot selection, though, is the biggest task right now. Squaring off against fellow Arkansan KeVaughn Allen, Monk scored 40 points on 14-for-20 shooting against Memphis-based Team Penny. But in the other four games, he shot 11% from 3-point range and 21% overall from the field.
Marcus Monk has been working on helping his brother cut down on bad shots. They break down film of his game to sharpen Malik’s court awareness and make him a better teammate, Marcus said. “It’s more discussion as far as how to read screens and looking at that second and third level of defense. Like a quarterback, you know.”
In early July, Monk had a chance to learn firsthand from one of the world’s most efficient basketball players when he attended the LeBron James Skills Academy. James is “really active with his camp. He takes time with all the players,” recalled Marcus Monk, who attended the event as an observer.
Traditionally Arkansas produces better football than basketball players so it’s notable when one of the state’s best prep player ends up playing for the hoop-crazy
University of Kentucky. Indeed, it appears only three natives have ever done it and two of them went directly from an Arkansas high school to Lexington – Houston Nutt, Sr. in 1950-51 and Archie Goodwin last season.
Goodwin was drafted late with the 29th pick on Thursday night. The 18-year-old Little Rock native will start his NBA career as a young shooting guard with the Phoenix Suns. As a child, Goodwin looked up to the last Arkansas shooting guard prospect to launch a career there: Joe Johnson. Indeed, Goodwin once told me he approached Johnson at a Little Rock camp when he was around 10 years old and told him something to the effect of: “My name’s Archie Goodwin and one day you’ll know my name.”
The other Arky-turned-Wildcat was Bob Burrow, a Malvern native who moved to central east Texas as a high school junior. In 1954, after graduating with 14 other seniors from Wells High School, the 6-7, 230-pound center wasn’t exactly the most highly recruited guy around.
Two years later, after dominating competition at nearby Lon Morris Junior College, he was.
Burrow fell hard for Kentucky, which he considered the world’s basketball capital. “When they recruited me, one of the alumni flew me out to Lexington on a visit. What I saw really impressed me.” Amazingly, UK head coach Adolph Rupp didn’t even watch him play and offered a scholarship on reputation alone.
Burrow ended up as a two-time All-American at Kentucky, averaged 20 points and nearly 16 rebounds a game. Indeed, his 17.7 rebounds a game as a junior is a UK record and his 34 rebounds in one game is an SEC record.
The Wildcats were 43-9 during his tenure and today Burrow’s #50 jersey in the rafters.
Don’t expect the same for Goodwin’s #10 jersey. Goodwin had a rough freshman year to the say the least, but he still flashed enough talent and physical tools (he’s 6-4 but has a 6-10 wingspan, which was as long as Scottie Pippen’s) to warrant a first-round selection.
He has the benefit of playing for a young, hungry team with a new head coach – Jeff Hornacek – who played his position and is strong in one of the areas (shooting) where Archie is most weak. Now whether that translates into a successful NBA career is anybody’s guess.
For Archie’s sake, let’s hope it is better than Burrow’s two years in the league playing for the Rochester Royals and Minneapolis Lakers. Although he was picked #9 overall in the 1956 Draft, he averaged only 5.7 points and 4.4 rebounds a game in his brief career.
Today, Little Rock native Archie Goodwin announced he’s officially entering this summer’s NBA Draft.
No surprise here.
While there was some question whether Kentucky’s leading scorer would leave college after a single season, I doubt there was ever a major question in Goodwin’s mind. When he was a junior in high school, he told me he wanted to a be a one-and-done because it was the best way to fulfill his dream of playing in the NBA. While he’s had a far more tumultuous season at UK than anybody expected, I hope he enjoys these upcoming months prepping for the draft.
No doubt, he’s put in plenty of work laying the foundation for a phase in his life in which the term “business decision” is finally applicable in an un-ironic way.
Goodwin received quite a bit of scorn from Arkansas fans when he announced he was choosing Kentucky as the desired platform in the launching of his pro career.
The same cannot be said of Alex Carter, who may the most accomplished female soccer player in the history of the state’s high school sports. Hardly any Razorback fans have heard of the 18-year-old Carter, who burst on to to the scene four years ago as the first Arkansas female to make a national soccer team.
Since then, the 5-5 midfielder has won multiple titles and individual awards at the club level (with the Arkansas Rush) and playing as a junior for Conway High School last season. Carter was so eager to start the next phase of her training that she graduated Conway High early and enrolled at Kentucky – which has twice won the SEC championship – in January.
Alex Carter, the newest member of the University of Kentucky women’s soccer team, has enrolled early for spring classes, graduating early from Conway High School during the winter intersession to enroll early at the University of Kentucky, it was announced by head coach Jon Lipsitz on Wednesday.
“Alex is a very special technical player,” Lipsitz said. “She has a great ability to play in the midfield and we have even talked about her playing some center back also because of how vital it is to have center backs who can set play with our style. We are very excited to have her come early. She felt that she was ready, and we felt that she was ready also.” – UK press release
Carter will start her first season this fall.
It’s been said that many Arkansans loathe Goodwin right now for snubbing the Hogs, but they will embrace him again if he goes on to become a champion at the NBA level and gives back to Arkansas (exhibit A: Keith Jackson).
Women’s soccer isn’t nearly as popular as men’s basketball, and so few Arkansans know who Alex Carter is, never mind care about her college destination. BUT, if in 2015 or 2019, she shows up on an American national team again – this time right before the World Cup – you’d better believe Arkansas will know who she is, and in a hurry.
That may be the first time Carter is asked in public why she decided to roll with the LadyCats and not the LadyBacks.
UPDATE: Goodwin had 14 points, 7-of-13 FGs, 0-of-2 from three, 3 rebounds, 1 TO, 3 steals in 18 minutes, according to Rivals.com. He started shakily, with a turnover off an errant pass while driving to the hoop, and soon afterward a missed dunk while losing a shoe – but he settled in nicely after that with consecutive dunks while flashing ability to cut to the hoop that stood out even in this hyper-talented crowd. Goodwin, Shabazz Muhammad and Rasheed Sulaimon led the West to a 106-102 victory.
BTW, he finished second in the event’s dunk contest, serving up a behind-the-back special I’ve never seen before (at 34 seconds):
Tonight, Archie Goodwin becomes the sixth male Arkansan to play in the nation’s most prestigious prep basketball game for high school seniors.
Here are his predecessors since the game’s 1977 debut:
- 1980 Rickey Norton (Okolona, Arkadelphia)
- 1982 Willie Cutts (Bryant)
- 1984 Andrew Lang (Pine Bluff)
- 1992 Corliss Williamson (Russellville) Tallied 14 points and 10 rebounds in a 100-85 win for the West team.
- 2007 James Anderson (Junction City) Had 5 points and 3 rebounds in 11 minutes for the West, which beat the East team 114-112.
Will Goodwin, who has thrived in these kind of national all-star settings, notch the best McDonald’s game ever by an Arkie?
The stats for the three Arkansans who played in the 1980s aren’t readily available. But, based on the game’s record book, it is likely Williamson has the best-ever designation heading until now. Goodwin could become the first Arkansan to score more than 21 points, dish more than seven assists, snare more than four steals, grab more than 11 rebounds, or block more than four shots in a McDonald’s all-star game.
Another interesting fact: before Anderson, every McD’s Arkie eventually played for the Razorbacks. Indeed, overall 13 such All-Americans had at one time played for Arkansas including:
- 1981 Joe Kleine
- 1986 Ron Huery
- 1988 Todd Day
- 1988 Lee Mayberry
- 1993 Darnell Robinson
- 1994 Kareem Reid
- 1995 Derek Hood
- 1996 Glendon Alexander
- 2003 Olu Famutimi
Goodwin is one of two Kentucky signees playing in this McD’s All-America game. The program had signed 40 before them.
It’s hard to imagine a more favored team for an Arkansas state title coming into this season than Sylvan Hills High School.
For starters, all five starters returned from last year’s 25-4 squad, which had roared through conference play undefeated. Guard Archie Goodwin, a Kentucky signee, established himself as one of the nation’s best prep players. Over the summer, the senior-laden Bears added firepower with the transfer of sophomore point guard Kaylon Tappin from rival Little Rock Mills. To top it all off, the squad had strong motivation to redeem itself after losing to Alma – which lost its star player to graduation – in the 5A state title game last season.
Entering November 2011, the Bears were understandably confident. Head coach Kevin Davis scheduled four regional tournaments and out-of-state games against a caliber of competition far above Sylvan Hills’ usual non-conference foes.
But, in the early going, the Bears didn’t exactly devour the big dogs.
By New Years, Sylvan Hills had lost three games – to Memphis powerhouse Southwind 89-60, to Little Rock private school Pulaski Academy 82-72 and to Tupelo, Miss. 65-60. Soon afterward, the Bears lost 75-71 to Lexington Catholic High School in Kentucky, and on Jan. 12 in Missouri hit a low point.
The opponent: New York City’s national power Christ the King. The place: Springfield, Mo., during the first round of the Bass Pro Tournament of Champions. The outcome: a 71-45 shellacking, with Sylvan Hills held to 23% shooting from the field. Senior leaders such as Dion Patton, Devin Pearson and Larry Ziegler combined for 16 points. Goodwin mustered 21 points, but missed all five free throws and ten 3-point attempts.
The reeling Bears, with a record of 9-5, had their proverbial backs against the wall.
In the five games since, Sylvan Hills have bounced back with a vengeance.
Sylvan Hills wiped out its last two Missouri tourney opponents by a combined 44 points and has come to home to surge to a 6-0 conference start, including last Friday’s grit-a-thon with Mills. Dion Patton is once again orchestrating from the point guard position, while 6-5 center Pearson flirts with a double-double every night out. Meanwhile, Goodwin seems to have gotten his mojo back, scoring near 30 points a game while shooting at a 50%+ FG rate and 80%+ FT clip.
And those highlights just keep pouring in, as seen in this reel from the Bass Pro tournament. Best play? Check around 3:11 when Goodwin contorts around defenders in the lane to pull off an aerial whirling dervish of a maneuver. It’s unclear when he and the Bears will return to earth.
Can someone please organize a high school season dunk of the year voting contest? I’ll submit this Archie “Good God-er!” from Sylvan Hills’ 53-43 Tuesday win over Watson Chapel. (H/t to Sylvan Hills student Eddie Higgins for helping find the clip)
UPDATE: There must be something in the water down there in Jefferson County. Not long after Goodwin’s dunk, a college player at UAPB pulled off what simply may be the dunk of the year at any level anywhere. In case you haven’t drunk deep of its glory, here is Savalace Townsend boinging on someone’s silly head.
For a weekly look at high school basketball in central Arkansas, check out the new ARPreps.com prepscast featuring the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette’s Tim Cooper.
Some updated notes [on 11/30] from the last day of the Rumble on the Ridge basketball tournament, a 3-day affair in Forrest City, Ark:
Pel sighting! He’s no longer stalking the sidelines as Arkansas’ head basketball coach, but that doesn’t mean John Pelphrey can’t keep visiting gyms around the state as a Florida assistant. As long as there is elite talent around to scout in high schools across the South, you had better believe Big Red will be there. Billy Donovan wouldn’t expect any less.
Below is a photo of Pel sitting in the same vicinity as the Sylvan Hills basketball team. Something tells me he wasn’t going to so much as sneak a peak in their direction, though.
Goodwin was a headliner in the tournament, although his team lost 60-89 to the Southwind Jaguars in the final. He was little hampered by the injury toward the end of the below clip, but came back just a few minutes later.
Archie has already signed with Kentucky, and was rocking a UK hat postgame. He said the injury was a “little painful, but nothing too bad to where I couldn’t play.” Asked if he had any message for UK fans, he said: “Tell them I love them … I’m gonna come up there and cause havoc.”
Goodwin’s signed, but Southwind’s junior Johnathan Williams III is still very much on the radar of many big programs. Here’s a clip of what he can do:
Johnathan Williams III (6-7, 208, ESPN’s 17th best player in ℅ 2013)