Butler (Huntsville) boys basketball coach Jack Doss is admittedly a little bit swayed when he calls his senior guard Trevor Lacey
the best basketball player he's ever coached.
Forgive Doss for his current loyalty. Three state championships in the four years with Lacey in the Huntsville powerhouse's lineup does offer a compelling argument. And forgive him for his lapse of memory. Doss also coached one Buck Johnson, a future NBA star who sparked Doss' former team, Birmingham-Hayes, to the veteran coach's first two state titles in 1981 and 1982.
Johnson was a 6-foot-8 phenom coming out of the talent-rich Birmingham playgrounds, following the likes of Wendell Hudson, Allen Murphy, T.R. Dunn, Anthony Murray, Reginald "Mule" King, Robert "Rah-Rah" Scott, Ennis Whatley, Charles Barkley … the list goes on and on and on.
Lacey also comes out of the state's other major hotbed for hoops talent. Huntsville has produced stars like Marvin Stone, Condredge Holloway, Randy Hollingsworth, Bobby Lee Hurt ... the list runs long and talented.
And that's just two Alabama cities — not even counting the likes of Wesley Person and Jim Farmer — both Class 1A players who were first-round NBA draft picks, and many others.
Lacey may not even be the best shooter in Butler High School history if you let old timers make the selection. That choice would likely be the 6-5 Hollingsworth, who led the Rebels to an undefeated regular season in 1965 only to see his team get upset by Emma Sansom in the state tournament. The next season, 1966, Hollingsworth led Butler to the state title with 28 points and 15 rebounds in the finals against defending state champion Sidney Lanier.
Hollingsworth is called the most pure shooter in the city's history. Doss calls Lacey the best shooter he's ever seen. Another Butler Rebel, 6-foot-10 Bobby Lee Hurt, was a superstar — like Lacey from his first day in the Rebels gym. He led Butler to the state finals only to lose to Doss' Buck Johnson-led Hayes team 60-58 at the University of Alabama's Coleman Coliseum. Johnson and Hurt would become two main ingredients in some of the Crimson Tide's finest seasons over the next four years.
Holloway, who attended Lee-Huntsville before becoming the quarterback at the University of Tennessee, was a true multi-sport star who turned down baseball offers in high school to become a Vol. He was the No. 4 pick overall by the Montreal Expos coming out of high school in 1971. He went on to become a two-sport star (baseball and football) in Knoxville and then had a legendary career in the CFL.
In Huntsville, old timers still talk about the talent of Holloway, who was a complete package at guard for Lee's Generals. They all agree he is the best all-around athlete in city history. Like Johnson and Hurt, he is enshrined in the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame.
Veteran Huntsville Time sports writers Mike Easterling and Bill Bryant chronicled the top players in Huntsville/Madison County history in a great read series during the 2010-11 prep basketball season.
They settled on the following five for Huntsville's Dream Team – Lacey the only active high schooler among them.
Hurt was everyone's choice at one forward. J.O. Johnson's 6-9, 240-pound Bobby Cattage, who was selected a Parade All-American his senior year before heading to Auburn, landed the other forward spot. Holloway, who was called the "best player I ever coached" by Alabama High School Hall of Fame coach Jerry Dugan, took one guard spot on the Huntsville Fab Five. Lacey joined Holloway in the backcourt, and the center named to the list was Marvin Stone, who played his freshman year at Johnson, then transferred to Huntsville's Grissom High and led the Tigers to the state title his senior season while earning All-America honors. He signed with Kentucky out of high school but later completed his college career at Louisville.
Doss, who is one of only a few of coaches in the state to win seven state boys prep basketball titles (1981 and 1982 at Hayes, 2004, 2005, 2008, 2009 and 2011 at Butler), has plenty of data to back up his claim that Lacey is indeed the best ever from the Rocket City. The four-year starter anchored Butler's 2008 Class 5A state championship team that beat Russellville 66-59 in the finals at Birmingham's BJCC Arena. He was the full-fledged star the next season as a sophomore as the Rebels repeated by beating Birmingham's Parker, led by future Kentucky freshman phenom and current NBA point guard Eric Bledsoe, 50-45.
Last season, Butler was among the nation's elite teams – beating Winter Garden (Fla.) and star guard Austin Rivers in the NFHS T-Mobile Classic tournament played at Birmingham's Samford University. A knee injury in the area tournament ended Lacey's season prematurely, however, and city rival Lee beat a Lacey-less Butler to advance to the state tournament and to the 5A state title. The state's sportswriters selected Lacey as Alabama's "Mr. Basketball" despite his injury. What he had done in the regular season was enough to impress the voters.
This season, Lacey and company dropped to Class 4A and rolled to the state title with a hard-fought 45-39 win over Anniston. Lacey was named MVP. He averaged 31 ppg and was over 40 ppg in regular-season play. He scored 56 against then top-ranked Class 6A Homewood in December and set a Class 4A Regional Tournament record with 44 points in the semifinals of the Northwest Regional tournament. It likely is closing the final chapter of Butler's storied prep basketball history. Doss announced after the state finals he would not be back at Butler, fully expecting the shrinking school to close its doors by next fall.
Lacey has been selected a Parade Magazine All-America first-team selection, an honor announced last Monday. Still undecided about his college future, Kentucky fans are banking on Lacey becoming the Wildcats' next freshman phenom.
Next week, the Alabama Sports Writers Association will announce the 2011 choice for Mr. and Miss Basketball. It appears to be a no-brainer that Lacey will become just the second prep player in state history to win the prestigious award twice. The last, Ronald Steele of John Carroll Catholic High School of Birmingham, led his Cavaliers to back-to-back state titles in 2003 and 2004, going 36-0 as a junior and 31-3 as a senior. The 2004 team beat the same Parker team at the BJCC in the 6A finals before a standing-room-only crowd of 18,800 – the largest crowd to watch a high school basketball game in state history. Steele beat out his own teammate, current Memphis Grizzlies forward DeMarre' Carroll, for the top player award.
The popular Steele went on to start at Alabama as a freshman and sophomore before a knee injury halted his shot at an NBA career. Steele is currently playing basketball overseas.
Doss is unflinching in his claim that Lacey is the best. Next week, the state's sportswriters will give that claim more credence when the currently secret 2011 Mr. Basketball winner is finally announced.
It will continue to spark debate over which prep player is really the best ever. What old timers would love to see is some kind of computer-generated basketball tournament that would pit Birmingham's Dream Team against Huntsville's Dream Team.
It would certainly have Lacey in the lineup. And Steele. And Holloway. And Johnson. And Barkley. And Hurt. And Dunn. And Hudson. Ah-h-h, the list goes on forever.ASWA ANNOUNCES PLAYERS AND COACHES OF THE YEAR
While almost everyone is ready to concede the 2011 Mr. Basketball Award to Lacey, he does have some stiff competition. The Alabama Sports Writers Association, which began naming Mr. Basketball in 1985, announced the finalists for the award Sunday. That list is comprised of seven players of the year (six in the AHSAA and one in the Alabama Independent School Association). Miss Basketball for 2011 comes from ladies' list of players of the year.
The boys include:
Class 6A: Levi Randolph
, Madison-Bob Jones, 6-6, Sr., Guard
Class 5A: Ricky Tarrant
, Pleasant Grove, 6-0, Sr., Guard
Class 4A: Trevor Lacey, Huntsville-Butler, 6-4, Sr., Guard
Class 3A: Kevin May
, York-Sumter County, 5-4, Sr., Guard
Class 2A: Matthew Hines
, Tanner, 5-10, Jr., Guard
Class 1A: Deion Curry
, Reform-Pickens County, 6-0, Sr., Guard
AISA: Jacob Acker
, Carrollton-Pickens Academy, 6-2, Sr., Guard
The girls include:
Class 6A: Jasmine Jones
, Madison-Bob Jones, 6-1, Jr., Forward
Class 5A: Tia Faleru
, Ozark-Carroll, 6-0, Sr., Center
Class 4A: Marques Webb
, Montgomery-Brewbaker Tech, 6-1, So., Center
Class 3A: Hayden Hamby
, West Morgan, 5-7, Jr., Guard
Class 2A: Shaquinta Sales
, Tanner, 5-10, Sr., Forward
Class 1A: Alex Gholston
, Courtland-R.A. Hubbard, 5-6, So., Guard
AISA: Merritt Waddell
, Eufaula-Lakeside, 6-5, Sr., Guard