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The top 100 high school athletes of all time: Haywood, other top hoopers dominate Nos. 31-40

By: Tom Markowski, August 10, 2017, 1:07 pm

The following is a list of the top 100 male athletes in the history of Michigan high school athletics. This list was created after hours of compiling facts and opinions. In analyzing data and comparing athletes of the 1920s to those of the 1990s and beyond we found difficulty in imagining how the athletes of the past would compare and compete against the present-day athlete. The adage, ‘bigger, stronger, faster’, must be applied but one cannot overlook the records and achievements of those in the 1930s, ‘40s and earlier.

It is the intent of State Champs to expose and honor the achievements of athletes, some of whom our readers might not be familiar with and to create conversation on just who were some of the best. 

We have a few guidelines for athletes to be considered for this list. One is they had to attend high school, for at least one school year, in Michigan. They also had to compete in sports at the high school they attended. Playing for club teams and travel teams outside of the school are not within these guidelines.

Athletes like boxers Joe Louis and Chris Byrd, for example, did not, as far as our research could ascertain, compete in athletics, at least in boxing, their main sport, in high school.

Other athletes, like hockey standout Mike Modano, who did not play for his high school team, are excluded as well.

State Champs would like to thank Wikipedia, Michigan High School Athletic Association historian Ron Pesch, Detroit area historian Bill Hoover and others, like Michigan sports writers Denny Grall and Bill Kahn, for their expertise. These, and others, provided so much of the information and opinions about these athletes that made this project possible.  

It must be noted that much of the information obtained, especially on some of the Negro League players, was sketchy.

The following is a list of the athletes ranked 31 through 40. Next week we will release the athletes ranked 21-30.

We’re closing in on the top 20 and some of the athletes listed below are one-sport athletes. Most of our athletes played multiple sports but as an organization we believe some athletes, even if they concentrate on just one sport, are so exceptional that they can’t be overlooked. And, yes, Jerome Bettis, the running back-linebacker from Detroit Mackenzie, and Ervin “Magic” Johnson of Lansing Everett made our list. You will see both on our list a little later.


  1. Adam Coon, Fowlerville, Michigan: A three-sport athlete, Coon was named first team all-state as a defensive lineman in 2012. He started four seasons on the football team. At the 2013 Division 2 track and field championships Coon took second in the shot put and the discus. But his main sport is wrestling. He’s one of 22 athletes who won four individual state titles. In Division 2 he won the title in the 215-pound weight class in 2010 and 2011. He was the heavyweight champion in 2012 and 2013. He finished 212-3 with three straight undefeated seasons. He was named Detroit Athletic Club Male Athlete of the Year in 2013. In college Coon, competing as a heavyweight, was All-America in 2015 and 2016 at Michigan. He suffered an injury this past season and was redshirted. His sophomore season he finished second nationally losing 7-6 in the final. He finished third as a junior.
  2. Spencer Haywood, Detroit Pershing, Trinidad State, University of Detroit, Rockets, Super Sonics, Knicks, Jazz, Lakers, Bullets (ABA, NBA), Olympics:  Haywood was born in Mississippi and moved to Detroit in 1964. A gifted scorer, rebounder and shot blocker, Haywood was the dominant player in Michigan in the late 1960s. He and Ralph Simpson led Pershing to the Class A title in 1967. That team is still considered one of the state’s all-time best. His 12 blocked shots in a state semifinal remains a state record. Three times he had 30 or more rebounds at Pershing. He averaged 28 points and 22 rebounds in junior college, and, in the summer of 1968, as an 18-year-old, Haywood averaged a team-leading 16.1 points as the U.S. won the Gold Medal at the Olympics in Mexico City. The next year, in his only season at U-D, he averaged 32.1 points, 21.5 rebounds and was a first team All-America. A pioneer in the sport, Haywood challenged the draft rules and went hardship. He was selected by the Denver Rockets of the ABA and in his rookie year he averaged 30 points, 19.5 rebounds and was named Rookie of the Year. He was named to the ABA all-time team. He was a four-time NBA all-star with Seattle. During his five seasons with Seattle he averaged 24.9 points and 12.1 rebounds. In 1980 he won his only NBA title with the Lakers.
  3. Carl Banks, Flint Beecher, Michigan State, Giants, Redskins, Browns (NFL): Banks was all-state in two sports (football, track) and was named first team All-Big Nine Conference in basketball his senior season (1979-80). In basketball Beecher reached the Class B semifinals in 1978, quarterfinals in 1979 and got back to the semifinals in 1980. He was on the 1980 Class B state championship track and field team and he placed fourth in the shot put. At MSU Banks won the Dick Butkus Award as the nation’s best linebacker. He was named All-Big Ten three times and had 86 tackles his senior season when he was named All-America. The Giants selected Banks as the No. 3 pick overall in the 1984 Draft. He started on two Super Bowl (XXI, XXV) winning teams, was named to the NFL’s All-Decade (1980s) team and finished his career with 39.5 sacks. He had 14 tackles including 10 unassisted in Super Bowl XXI. He played 12 NFL seasons and became a successful businessman since retiring in 1995. He is also a color analyst for the radio broadcasts of the Giants.
  4. Chuck Holloway, Detroit Northern, Junior College, UCLA, Calgary (CFL): Here’s one of those athletes that turns heads. He played three sports in high school and college. He was all-state in basketball his senior year at Northern. Holloway was named to the Detroit Free Press and Detroit News All-City basketball teams and started at running back for UCLA. In 1999 The Black Legends of Professional Basketball honored Sammy Gee (No. 73 on our list) and Chuck Holloway as the "Greatest Detroit High School Multi-Sport Athletes”. He played freshman hoops at Lawrence Tech and jumped 23 feet in the broad jump for Fort Ord in 1954 at the Los Angeles Coliseum. After graduating from Northern, Holloway enrolled in Fullerton (CA) Junior College where he competed in basketball, football, track and baseball.  During his tenure at Fullerton, his teams won two conference basketball championships.  Holloway won the State Community College low hurdles and participated in the National hurdles event. He received a track scholarship to attend UCLA in 1952.  Holloway served in the Army in 1953 (Fort Ord, Calif.) where he ran track and played football. After serving his country Holloway returned to UCLA and lettered in track, football and rugby.  He played against Michigan State in the 1956 Rose Bowl. In ‘57 he played with Calgary in the Canadian Football League as a receiver. 
  5. Earl Morrall, Muskegon, Michigan State, 49ers, Steelers, Lions, Giants, Colts, Dolphins (NFL): Morrall earned varsity letters in football, basketball and baseball on Big Red teams from 1949 to 1952.  In his senior football season (1951), Morrall gained national attention by leading Muskegon to an undefeated season and a state championship, establishing the school’s then single season record of 851 yards and 11 touchdowns in the process. MSU won the 1956 Rose Bowl game oer UCLA and he played shortstop and third base in the College Baseball World Series while at Michigan State. He was offered the opportunity to play professional baseball but chose instead to play football. San Francisco took him as the No. 2 pick overall in the 1956 draft. One of his best seasons was with the Lions in 1963 when he threw for 24 TDs and 2,600 yards. In 1968 he replaced Johnny Unitas (injury) for the Colts and Baltimore went 13-1 and Morrall was named league MVP. The Colts were upset by the Jets in Super III. Morrall also replaced Unitas in Super Bowl V and the Colts won, 16-13. He started 11 of the 17 games for the Dolphins in ’72 as the team went 17-0. That season Morrall won the Comeback of the Year Award and AFC Player of the Year Award.
  6. Shane Battier, Detroit Country Day, Duke, Grizzlies, Rockets, Heat (NBA): At Country Day Battier was all-state all four seasons, first team his sophomore season and Dream Team his final two seasons. He also started on the baseball team. Country Day won three Class B titles with in Battier’s last three seasons. Never a scoring machine, per se, what made Battier stand out was his play on the defensive end and his unselfishness. He was named Mr. Basketball in 1997. He led Duke to two Final Four appearances. The Blue Devils won the National Championship in 2001, a season where Battier was named by every notable publication as the player of the year, this included the Naismith Player of the Year Award. He was also named the Final Four Most Outstanding Player in ’01. He was a two-time Academic All-America and was the Academic All-American of the Year in 2001. The Grizzlies selected Battier in the first round (6th pick overall) of the ’01 draft. He played 14 NBA seasons and, again, was never a prolific scorer at this level. His greatest contributions were on the defense and his knowledge of the game. After being traded to the Rockets in 2006 Houston made Battier the team’s only player with access to its highly sophisticated statistical data that they compiled on all opposing players; he used this data to become familiar with the tendencies of the players he would guard in each game. As his game evolved Battier became an excellent 3-point shooter. His 57.7 three point shooting percentage in the 2012 NBA Finals is the highest recorded by a player who made 15 or more three-pointers in an NBA Finals series. Battier was part of two NBA title teams with the Heat. In 2013 he was 6–of-8 from the 3-point range (18 points) in Game 7 to help the Heat to the title. He is currently with the Heat in their front office as the director of basketball development and analytics. 
  7. Tim Shaw, Livonia Clarenceville, Penn State, Panthers, Jaguars, Bears, Titans (NFL): Shaw started for three seasons on the varsity basketball team and ran track for three seasons. In 2001 Shaw, in his junior season, won the 100-meter dash in 11.03 seconds, which was a Division 3 record. He also took second in the 200 dash that season. Shaw suffered a pulled hamstring his senior year and didn’t compete at state meet. Football was his main sport. He was first team all-state as a junior and was a Dream Team selection his senior season (2001). That season he led Clarenceville to its only state (Division 5) championship game. The year before Clarenceville reached the state semifinals. Shaw scored 306 points (51 TDs) in 2001 and 288 (48 TDs) in 2000. His point and TD totals place him fourth and fifth, respectively, in state history. His 786 points place him fourth on the state’s all-time list. Shaw’s 131 TDs is good for second on the state’s all-time list. Recruited as a running back, Shaw played on special teams and at linebacker in college. He was an academic All-America in 2006. Drafted in the fifth round by Carolina, Shaw played six NFL seasons.   
  8. Chris Webber, Detroit Country Day, Michigan, Warriors, Bullets/Wizards, Kings, 76ers, Pistons (NBA): Webber, physically, was a dominant player in his four seasons at Country Day. Webber, at the time, was the most recruited Michigan basketball player since Magic Johnson. Webber led Country Day to one Class C title and two Class B championships. As a senior Webber averaged 29.4 points and 13 rebounds. He was named Mr. Basketball and the 1990–1991 National High School player of the year. He was named MVP in both the McDonald’s and Dapper Dan All-Star games. The best player on U-M’s Fab Five, Webber led the Wolverines to consecutive NCAA finals. He was named Freshman of the Year and as a sophomore was a first team All-America. Webber was indicted by a federal grand jury and stripped of his All-America honors by the NCAA as a result of his direct involvement in a recruiting scandal. Orlando selected Webber as the first player in the 1993 NBA Draft. He was the NBA Rookie of the Year and was a five-time NBA All-Star. He averaged 20.7 points, 9.8 rebounds and 4.2 assists in his 15 NBA seasons.
  9. Dick Rifenburg, Saginaw Arthur Hill, Michigan, Lions (NFL): Born in Petoskey, Rifenburg was named all-state in basketball, football and track. He led Arthur Hill to its first basketball state title in 1944 by scoring 17 of his 24 points in the second half in the state final against Kalamazoo Central. A Detroit Free Press reporter wrote that, “Veteran basketball observers after watching Rifenburg perform in the semifinals and finals tagged his as one of the greatest performers in tournament history”.  Rifenburg ended the year with 352 points. Rifenburg was also the state champion in 1944 in both the shot put (46 feet, 11 inches) and the high jump (5 feet, 8.5 inches). Rifenburg had an outstanding freshman season (freshmen were not allowed to play varsity) and had two TD receptions in his first game. Rifenburg’s college career was interrupted by World War II as he served in the U.S. Navy. After missing the 1945 season, he returned to play for the Wolverines from 1946 to 1948. Rifenburg played for the Wolverines in consecutive undefeated National title teams (1947-48). He started nine games for the ’47 team, a team referred to as "Michigan’s Mad Magicians" and is considered by many as the greatest Michigan football team of all time. The ’48 team was Benny Oosterbaan’s first as a head coach. U-M went 9-0 and outscored its opponents by an average of 28 points. Rifenburg led the conference in receptions (22) and TDs (8), and was named first team All-America. Rifenburg was considered one of the greatest Wolverines of the 1940s.In four seasons with Michigan Rifenburg played in 32 games and had over 1,000 yards of total offense. Rifenburg held Michigan’s single season and career record for touchdown receptions (eight in a season; sixteen career) until his records were broken by Anthony Carter (1980). The Eagles selected Rifenburg in the NFL draft but an injury prevented him from playing in 1949. He did play 12 games for the Lions in 1950 and had 10 catches for 96 yards and one TD. He retired after that season and became a sports broadcaster.
  10. Glen Rice, Flint Northwestern, Michigan, Heat, Lakers, Hornets, Knicks, Rockets, Clippers (NBA): A two-time Dream Team selection, Rice was named Mr. Basketball in 1985 after leading the Wildcats to their second consecutive Class A title. He averaged 28.6 points his senior season. That season Northwestern set an all-class record by scoring 100 points in a state semifinal (100-63 over Ferndale). Rice won a National Title with U-M (1989) and was named tournament MVP. Rice was selected as the No. 4 pick overall by the Miami Heat in the ’89 NBA Draft. He won an NBA title with the Lakers in 2000. He’s U-M’s all-time leading scorer (2,442 points) and holds the school’s single season scoring record (949). Rice played 15 NBA seasons, was a three-time NBA All-Star and finished with 18,336 points. 


Here are Nos. 41-100


  1. Alexi Lalas, Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook Kingswood, Rutgers, Revolution, Galaxy (MLS)
  2. Adam Coon, Fowlerville, Michigan (wrestling)
  3. Greg Jennings, Kalamazoo Central, Western Michigan, Packers, Vikings, Dolphins (NFL)
  4. Charles Rogers, Saginaw, Michigan State, Lions (NFL)
  5. Jon Runyan, Flint Carman-Ainsworth, Michigan, Oilers/Titans, Eagles, Chargers (NFL)
  6. Don Lund, Detroit Southeastern, Michigan, Dodgers, Browns, Tigers (MLB)
  7. Casey Rogowski, Detroit Catholic Central (baseball, football, wrestling)
  8. Willis Ward, Detroit Northwestern, Michigan (track, football)
  9. Todd Lyght, Flint Powers, Notre Dame, Rams, Lions (NFL)
  10. John Smoltz, Lansing Catholic Central/Lansing Waverly, Braves, Red Sox, Cardinals (MLB)
  1. Kevin Grady, Jr., East Grand Rapids, Michigan (football)
  2. Courtney Hawkins, Flint Beecher, Michigan State, Buccaneers, Steelers (NFL)
  3. Rodney Culver, Detroit DePorres, Notre Dame, Colts, Chargers (NFL)
  4. Herb Washington, Flint Northern, Flint Central, Michigan State, Oakland A’s (MLB)
  5. Ed Budde, Detroit Denby, Michigan State, Chiefs (AFL/NFL)
  6. Drew Stanton, Farmington Hills Harrison, Michigan State, Lions, Jets, Colts, Cardinals (NFL)
  7. Charlie Gehringer, Fowlerville, Michigan, Tigers (MLB)
  8. Jim Abbott, Flint Central, Michigan, Angels, Yankees, White Sox, Brewers (MLB)
  9. Lynn Chandnois, Flint Central, Michigan State, Steelers (NFL)
  10. Stuart Schweigert, Saginaw Heritage, Purdue, Raiders, Redskins, Giants, Lions (NFL)
  11. D.J. LeMahieu, Birmingham Brother Rice, Louisiana State, Cubs, Rockies (MLB)
  12. Tim Thomas, Davison, Vermont, Bruins, Panthers, Stars (NHL), Olympics     
  13. John Rowser, Detroit Eastern, Michigan, Packers, Steelers, Browns (NFL)
  14. Joe DeLamielleure, Center Line St. Clement, Michigan State, Bills, Browns (NFL)
  15. Sergio Perkovic, Birmingham Brother Rice, Notre Dame (lacrosse)
  16. Gabe Dean, Lowell, Cornell (wrestling)
  17. Bill Simpson, Royal Oak Shrine, Michigan State, Rams, Bills (NFL)
  18. Nick Perry, Detroit Mackenzie, Detroit King, Southern California, Packers (NFL)
  19. Draymond Green, Saginaw High, Michigan State, Golden State Warriors (NBA), Olympics
  20. Wayne Schwalbach, Escanaba, Central Michigan (football)
  21. Prescott Line, Oxford, Southern Methodist, Michigan State (football)
  22. William Gholston, Detroit Mumford, Detroit Southeastern, Michigan State, Buccaneers (NFL)
  23. Sammy Gee, Detroit Miller, Negro League Baseball, Globetrotters
  24. Darnell Dickerson, Detroit King, Pittsburgh (football)
  25. Jason Richardson, Saginaw Arthur Hill, Michigan State, Warriors, Hornets, Suns, Magic, 76ers (NBA)
  26. Dan Majerle, Traverse City High, Central Michigan, Suns, Cavaliers, Heat (NBA)
  27. David Bowens, Orchard Lake St. Mary’s, Michigan/Western Illinois, Packers, Bills, Redskins, Dolphins, Jets, Browns (NFL)
  28. Brent Metcalf, Davison, Iowa (wrestling)
  29. Don Coleman, Flint Central, Michigan State, Cardinals (NFL)
  30. Tony Dungy, Jackson Parkside, Minnesota, Steelers, 49ers (NFL)
  31. Chet Walker, Benton Harbor, Bulls (NBA)
  32. Donovan Peoples-Jones, Detroit Cass Tech, Michigan (football)
  33. Clay Youngquist, Battle Creek Lakeview, Texas (swimming)
  34. Joe Barksdale, Detroit Cass Tech, Louisiana State, Raiders, Rams, Chargers (NFL)
  35. George “The Gipper” Gipp, Calumet High, Notre Dame (football)
  36. Curtis Jones, Detroit Northwestern, North Idaho Junior College (basketball)
  37. Walt Owens, Detroit Northwestern., Western Michigan, Negro League Baseball, Globetrotters
  38. Andy Greene, Trenton, Miami (OH), Devils, (NHL)
  39. Rudy Tomjanovich, Hamtramck, Michigan, Rockets (NBA)
  40. Charlie Justice, Hamtramck/Detroit Northern, Negro League Baseball, Globetrotters
  41. George Goeddeke, Detroit St. David, Notre Dame, Broncos (AFL/NFL)
  42. "Jumpin’ Johnny" Kline, Detroit Northwestern/Detroit Northeastern, Wayne State, Globetrotters (track, basketball)
  43. Earl Brown, Jr., Benton Harbor, Notre Dame (basketball, football)
  44. Harry Kipke, Lansing Central, Michigan (basketball)
  45. Gary Hoogeboom, Grand Rapids Northview, Central Michigan, Cowboys (NFL)
  46. Steve Beck, Southeastern, Arizona State (basketball)
  47. Wilbert "Wilbur" King, Detroit Pershing, Negro League Baseball, Globetrotters
  48. Steve Fraser, Hazel Park, Michigan, (Olympic wrestling)
  49. Phil Regan, Wayland Union, Western Michigan, Tigers, Dodgers, Cubs (MLB)
  50. Mike Kadish, Grand Rapids Catholic Central, Notre Dame, Dolphins, Bills (NFL)