Top 11: Seattle-area basketball players of the past 20 years

Numbers 11-7 on our list can be found by clicking here. Number one will be published tomorrow. For now, here’s our tweener list, numbers 6-2. Enjoy.

6. Marvin Williams, Bremerton HS ’04, University of North Carolina, NBA

One of my few claims to fame is that I got to play on the same team as Marvin Williams back in fourth grade. I was a fairly undersized power forward, and Marvin was a third grader who was easily the best player in the league, most physically mature, and all-around most talented despite playing up a grade. Even though his family lived in Bremerton, Marvin’s dad, Marvin Sr., would bring his son across the Sound on a ferry every Saturday to play for our Bellevue Boys and Girls Club team while he headed off to Bellevue High to coach the BHS girls basketball team. Of course, at the time, I envisioned myself as the future NBA player and Marvin, being a year younger, a possible tagalong, but unfortunately I was, well, very wrong.

After his days as a Bellevue Bull, Marvin eventually wound up starring for an otherwise underwhelming Bremerton High School team, where he was named a McDonald’s All-American in his senior year of 2004. From there, Williams headed off to Chapel Hill to play for coach Roy Williams and the University of North Carolina. In his one season as a Tar Heel, Williams played the integral role of Sixth Man and helped lead the Heels to a National Championship.

With the notoriety gained from Carolina’s postseason run, the wiry 6’9″ Williams declared himself eligible for the 2005 NBA Draft after just one college season. Enticed by his athletic potential, the Atlanta Hawks selected Marvin second overall, one pick after center Andrew Bogut, and immediately preceding third overall pick Deron Williams, and fourth overall pick Chris Paul. While Williams has yet to fully embrace the potential the Hawks saw in him back in ’05, his National Championship ring and high draft position help elevate him up our list to number six.

5. Nate Robinson, Rainier Beach HS ’02, University of Washington, NBA

It really says something about how good of an athlete you are when the sport you turn pro in was arguably your third-best sport in high school. Such is the case with Nate-Rob, an outstanding track star and cornerback at Rainier Beach, who also happened to dabble in basketball. In his senior year at Beach, the 5’7″ Robinson was overshadowed on his own team by the likes of juniors Rodrick and Lodrick Stewart, as well as 6’11″ sophomore center Chester Giles. Still, he maintained a strong passion for the game, and intended to walk onto the UW basketball team after fulfilling his commitment, bound by scholarship, to coach Rick Neuheisel’s football program.

After an impressive freshman season playing nickelback in Neuheisel’s defense, Robinson took to the floor with Lorenzo Romar’s basketball team and immediately made his presence felt. In the abbreviated ’02-’03 season, Nate emerged as the leading scorer on a fairly poor Husky ballclub, averaging just over 13 PPG. With highlight-reel dunks and a flair for the dramatic, Robinson’s basketball prowess quickly overshadowed his gridiron abilities and he opted to quit the football team and focus solely on the hardwood.

Over the next two years, Robinson helped lead a UW turnaround that saw the Huskies return to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in over half a decade. After the 2005 season came to an end in the Sweet Sixteen, Robinson decided that three years in college was quite enough and declared himself eligible for the NBA Draft.

While most scouts projected the ambitious Nate-Rob as a likely second-round selection, the undersized guard was chosen 21st overall by the Phoenix Suns, before promptly being shuttled off to the New York Knicks in a draft-day trade. The first-round selection guaranteed Nate a job for at least two years in the pros, and a multi-million dollar salary that helped garner him a spot in the Knicks’ rotation.

Now in his fourth season as a pro, Robinson has evolved into a full-time player for an improving New York squad, but is perhaps best known around the country for his 2006 All-Star Game Slam Dunk Championship, in which he leapt over former Atlanta Hawk Spud Webb to complete a jam.

4. Jason Terry, Franklin HS ’95, University of Arizona, NBA

The leader of a Franklin ballclub that won state championships in 1994 and 1995, Jason Terry began his storied basketball career in Seattle’s Rainier Valley. After emerging as the go-to player on the state’s best team, Terry departed for Tucson, Arizona to play for Lute Olson’s Arizona Wildcats.

As a member of Arizona’s basketball team, Terry helped lead the ‘Cats to a National Championship in 1997 alongside fellow Seattle-area native Michael Dickerson. Terry, however, didn’t fully emerge as a legitimate NBA prospect until his senior year in the desert, when he averaged nearly 22 PPG. His scoring output, combined with the ball-handling skills he possessed, immediately caught the attention of the league’s scouts and made Terry an attractive option as a combo guard for a team looking to improve their backcourt.

The Atlanta Hawks were one team desperately in need of some backcourt help, and they made Terry their first-round selection, tenth overall, in the 1999 NBA Draft. After a mediocre rookie year, Terry evolved into the team’s best player by 2001, but couldn’t do much to salvage a lack of talent surrounding him. The Hawks gave up on Terry in 2004, looking once again to rebuild, and shipped him off to Dallas where he joined a perennial contender in the Mavericks. As a Mav, Terry has spent time as a starter and as a sixth man, but has always maintained his ability to score. With a high school state championship and a collegiate National Championship to his name, Terry, now a ten-year veteran of the league, is in search of an elusive NBA Title to complete the unprecedented trifecta.

3. Jamal Crawford, Rainier Beach HS ’99, University of Michigan, NBA

Crawford, a slender 6’5″ combo guard, got his start at Rainier Beach High School in the late 1990′s. There, during his junior season of 1998, Crawford helped lead the Vikings to their second state championship and first in over a decade.

After high school, the talented scorer took his game to Ann Arbor and the University of Michigan. As a Wolverine, Crawford endured a shortened freshman season after being suspended for a violation of NCAA rules. Once the year was up, Crawford had had enough of the amateur life and decided to turn pro. He was selected eighth overall in the 2000 NBA Draft by the Cleveland Cavaliers. In a recurrent theme among the players on this list, Crawford was then involved in a draft day trade, going to the Chicago Bulls where he would play the first four seasons of his career.

In 2004, Crawford was traded to the New York Knicks, where he would begin to carve his niche as one of the game’s elite scoring options. Playing alongside a true point guard (I suppose) in Stephon Marbury, Crawford was assigned the role of the two-guard, and allowed to fire at will on the offensive end. His scoring average increased consistently, coming to an apex last season at just shy of 21 PPG. Earlier this year, Crawford was dealt by the Knicks to the Golden State Warriors, where he has remained a dominant presence in the offense.

2. Doug Christie, Rainier Beach HS ’88, Pepperdine University, NBA

Before the Brookses, the Robinsons, and even the Crawfords of the Seattle basketball scene, there was one man who preceded the wave of talent that would emerge from the Emerald City. That man was Doug Christie, the godfather of local prep hoops who became Seattle’s first real basketball superstar.

Christie a native Seattleite, got his prep career kicked off at Mark Morris High School in Longview, where he lived with his father. After a two-year stint at Mark Morris, Christie moved back to the Seattle area and began attending Rainier Beach as a junior. In his senior season at Beach, Christie led the Vikings to their first ever state championship before taking his game south to Pepperdine University.

At Pepperdine, the 6’6″ Christie develop into a polished, NBA-caliber shooting guard. After four years as a Wave, Christie entered the 1992 NBA Draft and was selected 17th overall by none other than the Seattle Supersonics. Unfortunately for the Sonics and their fans, contract disputes prevented Christie from ever suiting up in the green-and-gold. Instead, he was shipped off to L.A. to play for the rival Lakers.

With a limited role in the Lakers’ gameplan, Christie was again sent packing in 1994 when he joined the New York Knicks. Just two years later, he was on the move again, this time heading to Toronto to play for the Raptors. After a developmental stint north of the border, Christie finally caught a big break when he joined the Sacramento Kings in 2000. It was there, eight years after he was first drafted, that Doug Christie finally became a household name. For five years, Christie played with a chip on his shoulder as a member of the Kings, leading the team to repeat playoff berths and taking his shots at the Lakers, the team that never knew what to do with him.

In 2005, Christie’s stint with the Kings came to an end and he began the hapless journey that many aging veterans take. Playing for three teams in two years (Orlando, Dallas, and the Los Angeles Clippers), Christie couldn’t find a home before unofficially retiring from the game in 2007.

5 responses

  1. I think I have a hunch who #1 is…

  2. [...] (a guy we chose as the No. 2 greatest Seattle-area basketball player of the past 20 years in an article from January of ‘09), who was arguably the first player of the current generation to reach the [...]

  3. Jason Terry is I think is one of the best basketball players in the world.

  4. brandon roy is #1

  5. Thank you for another magnificent post. Whee else may anyone
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