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.
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.
Tuesday night, Archie Goodwin became the first commitment of Kentucky‘s class of 2012.
With the single single tap of a “Tweet” button, the prep basketball star elated thousands of Wildcats fans while crushing the hopes of those wanting him to commit to Memphis or Arkansas. He told ESPN’s Dave Telep the choice was a “business decision,” a phrase reflecting his desire to prepare himself for the NBA and a belief Kentucky provides the best, and most efficient, platform for that.
Even before he begins his senior year of high school, though, the decision appears to have paid off in terms of boosting Goodwin’s personal brand. In the 16 hours following the 11 p.m. tweet, Goodwin picked up about 2,000 Twitter followers.
Meanwhile, Arkansas Razorback fans lamented. Many hoped Goodwin would team with Rashad Madden and B.J. Young next year to form what would likely become one of the best back courts in program history. Some fans believe it’s still a possibility. Oral commitments are nonbinding, which allows a last-second change of mind before a recruit signs a letter of intent.
Austin Rivers, last year’s top prep recruit, took advantage of this to back out of a commitment to Florida and become a Blue Devil.
Still, the sheer amount of blue-blooded love flowing between Goodwin and Kentucky followers on Twitter makes his reneging seem doubtful.
If Goodwin does end up signing with Kentucky, he’ll go down as one of the biggest “what-ifs” in Arkansas basketball program history. It’s likely fans haven’t been this disappointed since Al Jefferson, the immensely talented big man from Mississippi, decided to declare for the 2004 NBA Draft rather than play for the Hogs.
Goodwin “is the biggest recruit Arkansas has ever lost on,” says Tim Cooper, prep basketball editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.
Which opens up a question of Goodwin’ competition for this designation.
So, who are the best in-state Arkansas recruits to sign with other programs?
1. Keith Lee (West Memphis High School) Lee, a spindly 6-10, 190-pound power forward, helped West Memphis win a state-record 60 consecutive games and averaged 22.9 points and 17.6 rebounds his senior year (1980-1981). He was ranked as one of the nation’s best 15 players by Street and Smith’s magazine and pursued by schools such as UCLA, Louisville and Memphis State. Arkansas coach