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BASKETBALL: Top 13 Detroit high school basketball programs of all-time

By: Branden Hunter, April 17, 2014, 12:56 pm

Not many cities can say the are a basketball mecca like the great city of Detroit can. The city has gone through some trials and tribulations the last few decades with the high crime rate and financial troubles, but high school  basketball has always been known to bring Detroiters together. Whether it be at the infamous St.Cecilia Gym, Cobo Hall, Calihan Hall, or Cass Tech, the history of high school basketball in Detroit is hard to compete with. Most programs like Pershing, King girls, Renaissance and U-D Jesuit, and Nortwestern are still thriving, but unfortnately, programs like Redford, Cooley, Kettering, Holy Redeemer, Mackenzie and Northern are no more. Still all of these programs, and many more have some great history. So here’s a list of the top 13 programs of all-time in the "D".

1.Pershing Doughboys

History: Opened in 1930 and is named after former World War I general John J. Pershing. Doughboy is an informal term for a member of the United States Army or Marine Corps. Located at 18875 Ryan Road.

Why they are here: No program has had the consistency, or success that the infamous Doughboys have had over the last 50 years or more. They have had seven players play in the NBA and have won the most state titles of any PSL team, with five. Their alumni list speaks for itself and when you think of Detroit high school basketball, you think of the "P".

Notable Doughboys: Spencer Haywood,Steve Smith,Deshawn Sims,Demetrius Ward,Kahlil Felder Jr.,Martez Walker,Mel Daniels,Ralph Simpson,Justin Tillman,Kevin Willis,Keith Appling,Derrick Nix,Arthur Johnson,Winfred Walton,Willie Mitchell,Kahlil Felder Sr.,Charles Lesure,Robert Hawkins,Willie Iverson.

Program accomplishments: Five Class A state titles (’67,’70,’92,’93,’09). Four Mr.Basketball winners (Michtell-’94,Walton-’96,Nix-’09,Appling-’10). Eight PSL city titles. Nine state title appearances.

2.Southwestern Prospectors

History: Opened in 1922 as of one first schools in Detroit designed for upper grades. Nordstrum High School used to sit next door, until the two schools merged. The school was closed in 2012. Located at 6921 West Fort Street.

Why they are here: Southwestern owned Detroit in the 80s and early 90s. Legendary head coach Perry Watson had his program running like a well-oiled machine, advancing to six straight state title game and seven in eight year, which they all lost. The Prospectors also produced some of the best hoopers and teams Detroit has ever seen during that time period.

Notable Prospectors: Jalen Rose,Antoine Joubert,Howard Eisley,Voshon Lenard,Anderson Hunt,James Hunter,Henry Kovacs,Cliff Williams.Leslie Rockymore,DeAndre Haynes.Derrick Hayes,Sam Sillmon Sr.,Mike Hamilton,Elton Carter.

Program accomplishments: Three Class A state titles (’73,’91,’90). One Mr.Basketball winner (Joubert-’83). Ten PSL city titles. 10 state title appearances.

3.King Lady Crusaders

History: Opened in 1895 as Eastern High School, before being renamed as King in 1968. It was obviously named after the former civil rights activist, Martin Luther King Jr., who was assassinated that same year. Located at 3200 East Lafayette Boulevard.

Why they are here: Hands down the best girls program in the city of Detroit and one of the best in Michigan, King has been a powerhouse for almost 30 years and counting. Under the tutelage of long-time head coach William Winfield, King has produced some of the state’s best talent and its gymnasium looks like a hall of fame with all the banners. It’s always championship or bust at King.

Notable Lady Crusaders: Jasmine Stone,Mart’e Grays,Antania Hayes,Courtney Townsend,Markita Aldridge,Shenita Jones,Tiffany Mitchell,Del’Niqua Bellamy,Chenice Caruthers,Marla Andrews,Cherie Gibson,Latosha Pace,LeQuisha Whitfield,Tashona Gregory.

Program accomplishments: Five Class A state titles (’06,’03,’91,’90,’85). One Miss Basketball winner (Aldridge-’90). Twenty-three known city titles. Eleven state title appearances.

4.St.Martin dePorres Eagles

History: It opened in 1919 as Detroit Visitation High School, before becoming dePorres in 1967. The Eagles were a Catholic High School League juggernaut, winning 41 state titles in track, basketball and football. It closed in 2005. Located at 13436 Grove Avenue.

Why they are here: As one of the more smaller schools on the list, with an enrollment of a couple hundred kids, dePorres had some of the best overall athletes in the city during its reign. The Eagles athletic program was so good that it probably could have won titles in a higher class. The 80s and 90s were the school’s glory days, before it was forced to shut its doors in 2005. Oh what could have been if dePorres was open to this day.

Notable Eagles: Durrell Summers,Brandon Cotton,Willie Burton,Tony Fuller,Negele Knight,Tony Tolbert,Aloysius Anagonye,Lionel Sullivan,Teremun Johnson,Tymon Marshall,Tyquan Lenyard,David Moore.Tony Tolbert.

Program accomplishments: One Class D state title (’76). Seven Class C state titles (’85,’86,’92,’96,’98,’99,’03). Six Catholic League titles. Nine state title appearances.

5.East Catholic Chargers

History: Opened in 1918 as St.Anthony, before becoming East Catholic in 1969. It became the first Catholic school in Detroit with a program that worked with computer punch cards in 1968 and my mother, Debbie Hunter, was in the graduating class of 1987. It closed in 2005.

Why they are here: For about a twenty year span, East Catholic was an east side of Detroit powerhouse. They weren’t as big as a Brother Rice, or Catholic Central, but was able to draw a lot of talent from the area to their program. Head coach Dave Soules was the head architect of those great teams, owning Class D during his time there. East Catholic fell victim to the Catholic school closings of the mid-2000s, but will always be remembered for the basketball power that it was.

Notable Shamrocks: Andrew Mitchell.

Program accomplishments: One Class C state title (’73). Seven Class D state titles (’79,’80,’81,’83,’86,’90,’97). Three Catholic League titles. Ten state title appearances.

6.Cooley Cardinals

History: Opened in 1928 and once had an attendance of 3,750 students in 1932. Also offered ice hockey,speed skating,fencing and more as extracurricular activities and closed in 2010. Located at 15055 Hubbell Avenue.

Why they are here: Along with schools like Southwestern, Pershing, Kettering, Northern, Mackenzie, and Murray-Wright, the 80s were special for high school basketball in the city. Cooley had its glory days during that time period and captured and unprecedented three straight Class A state titles under head coach Ben Kelso, joining Flint Central and Kalamazoo Central as the only programs to accomplish such a feat in the state’s highest class.

Notable Cardinals: Mike Talley,George Ward,Willie Green,Roy Tarpley,Sylvester Dotson,Delvar Barrett,Larry Fogle,Cliff Williams,Mike Gardner,Ed Dotson,Daniel Lyton.

Program accomplishments: Three consecutive Class A state titles (’87,’88,’89). One Mr.Basketball winner (Talley-’89). One Retro Mr.Basketball winner (Fogle-’72). Two PSL city titles.

7.St.Theresa Pirtates

History: It opened in 1919, up until its closing in 1967. A Detroit charter school now occupies the school building, Allen Academy. Located at 8666 Quincy Avenue.

Why they are here: Back when Detroit was booming with Catholic schools on every corner like Coney Islands today, St.Theresa had one of the best basketball programs. The 30s and early 40s were the Pirates best days, up until the school closed in 1967. St.Theresa excelled not only in their own league, but were also victorious in the state tourney three times. Detroit only has three Catholic schools remaining in the city now.

Notable Pirates: Bob Osterman,Joey Smith,Denny McCotter.

Program accomplishments: Three Class B state titles (’36,’37,’41). One Retro Mr.Basketball winner (Osterman-’41). Twelve Catholic League titles. Five state titile appearances.

8.Renaissance Phoenix

History: Opened in 1978 on the old grounds of Detroit Catholic Central High School. It is one of the newer high schools in Detroit’s long history and is one of just four magnet high schools in the city. Located at 6565 West Outer Drive.

Why they are here: Renaissance doesn’t have a long history of success on the basketball court like a lot of the other PSL schools, but in the early 2000s the Phoenix were a city power. Head coach Mark White led them to two state titles, producing several All-Americans along the way. Their battles with Redford, Denby, Pershing and dePorres during that time are legendary.

Notable Phoenix: Joe Crawford,Rickey Paulding,Tajaun Porter,Malik Hairston,Clark Bishop,Carson Butler,Toreau Brown,Jerome Hutchins,Marcus Stout.

Program accomplishments: Two Class B state titles (’04,’06). Three PSL city titles.

9.Redford Huskies

History: Opened in 1920 and was made up of six separate buldings and housed 4,100 students at its peak. it was originally built to serve Redford Township when built, before being annexed to Detroit in 1926. Located at 21341Grand River Avenue.

Why they are here: Much like foe Renaissance, Redford didn’t reign supreme for a long time, but when it did, what they accomplished was special. The Huskies aren’t higher on the list because they couldn’t win it all, but their success in the PSL and two Mr.Basketball winners warrant them a spot on this list. Redford also fell victim to school closings in the late 2000s, but surely would have kept their success going if they had remained opened.

Notable Huskies: Dion Harris,Brandon Wolfe,Manny Harris,Demarios Prince,Ken Flowers,Jerome Tyson,Deshawn Wolfe,Vernon Carr,Ramone Pettus,Darrell Evans,Omar Zeigler.

Program accomplishments: Two Mr.Basketball winners (D.Harris-’03,M.Harris-’07). Four PSL city titles. Three state title appearances

10.Northwestern Colts

History: Opened in 1911 and is one of the city of Detroit’s oldest high schools. It is home to a Major League Baseball hall of famer, a member of the Supremes, a U.S. Congressman, and the guy who wrote the theme song to Ghostbusters. Located at 2200 West Grand Boulevard.

Why they are here: Northwestern hasn’t had much success on the hardwood lately, but before most of our grandparents were born, the Colts were a powerhouse in the city. No PSL team has won more city titles than they have, with 16. Curtis Jones is considered to be the best player ever to come out of the city of Detroit by some people and played at Northwestern. The Colts won their latest city title in 2008, with Steve Hall.

Notable Colts: William Springsteen, Bruno Smokiewicz,Charlie North,Bill Ayler,Alan Hardy,Curtis Jones, Eric Evans,Chris Douglass-Roberts,Corey Rabb,Carlos Williams.

Program accomplishments: Three Class A state titles (’17,’20,’28). Sixteen PSL city titles.

11.Central Trailblazers 

History: Opened in 1858 as Detroit High School and then was renamed Capitol High School in 1863, before becoming Central High School in 1896. It’s the Detroit’s first and oldest high school and still operates to this day. Located at 2425 Tuxedo Street.

Why they are  here: Much like Northwestern, Central hasn’t had much success recently, besides their Class A state title in 1998 under head coach Oronde Taliaferro and star forward Antonio Gates; yes All-Pro tight end Antonio Gates. But when your’re over 150 years old, you have to had some success, which they have. In the early 1900s, Central was one of the best teams in the state, when really no one was that good at the sport yet. They also have the second most city titles, with 14.

Notable Trailblazers: Sam Babcock,Antonio Gates,DeAndre Nealy,Deilvez Yearby,Miquel Hall,Cecil Hood,Curtis Williams,Johnny Davis,Jimmy Twyman,Dante Darling.

Program accomplishments: One Class A state title in (’98). Claimed state titles, before tournament play started, in 1907,1909, 1912, and 1916. Fourteen PSL city titles.

12.Rogers Rangers

History: Opened in 1944 as the S.James Herman School, on the grounds of the former Herman Gardens Housing Project. It closed its doors in 2005, like a lot of high schools in Detroit during that time. Located at 16400 Tireman Street.

Why they are here: Little information on the school can be found, but they had some big success in the mid-2000s under Steve Hall. The Rangers won three straight Class D state titles under his watch, before closing and freshman point guard Eric Evans’ buzzer-beater to capture the their latest title has kept the school’s name relevant, allowing them to crack this list. Rogers closed that same year on a great note, so there’s no telling how many championships they could have won.

Notable Rangers: Eric Evans,Jalon Perryman,Byron Davis,Lorenzo Shine,Ricardo Billings,Darryl Clements.

Program accomplishments: Three consecutive Class D state titles (’03,’04,’05).

13.Southeastern Junagleers

History: Opened in 1917 and was so removed from the urban part of Detroit, that students referred their trip to school as going through the jungle, thus the Jungaleers nickname was born. Located at 3030 Fairview Street.

Why are they here: Southeastern has been to two Class A state title games in the last four years, losing both and won a city title in 2011. But before then, they hadn’t won a city title since, 1956 and a state title since 1926. Still the Jungaleers have had a pretty solid basketball program and were really good in the PSL from the 1920s to the 1950s. Current head coach George Ward looks like he has gotten them back to where they used to be.

Notable Jungaleers: Fred Smith,Brandon Jenkins,Daryl Bingham,Leonard Harper-Baker,Matt Anderson,Eulis Stephens Jr.s,Willie Mustin,Brandan Kearney,Walter Waters,Norman Daniels,Lambert Sprimger,Garrick Vicks.

Program accomplishments: Two Class A state titles (’25,’26). Nine PSL city titles. Four state title appearances. Five state title appearances.

Other top programs in the city: Murray-Wright,Cass tech,Finney,Mackenzie,Northern,Kettering,Hamtramck,Crockett,Austin,St.Andrew,Holy Redeemer,U-D Jesuit,All Saints,Northeastern,Eastern,Highland Park.