I HAD AN opportunity to attend a luncheon for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes Wednesday in Charleston. I had no idea the event would turn out to be a who's who of basketball history from the Kanawha Valley. Among those in attendance were:
Mike Jones, the state high school player of the year in 1974 who led Charleston High to back-to-back AAA state titles in 1973-74. A two-time all-state player, Jones was recruited by virtually every school in the east. The player they called "Twig" ended up signing with Gale Catlett at Cincinnati, where he played on some of the highest-ranked Bearcat teams in school history.
Gordon McClanahan, one of several outstanding players from Nitro in the 1960s. He went on to have an outstanding college career at Alderson-Broaddus from 1969-73.
Levi Phillips, who was a classmate of the late Larry "Deacon" Harris at Charleston High in 1969. They were juniors on the great Mountain Lions team that won the 1968 AAA state championship game over Woodrow Wilson. Both graduated in 1969 and went on to sign with Sonny Moran and West Virginia. Phillips was also an outstanding pitcher at CHS and also played baseball at WVU.
Curt Price, another leader on Charleston High's 1968 state title team and a Street & Smith's first-team All-American. Like Phllips and Harris, Price played at WVU. An incredible leaper before injuring his knees, Price was one of the Mountaineers team leaders from 1970-72. Price was almost as famous for his ability as a musician as he was on the basketball court.
Keith Tyler, the local head of the FCA. An incredible shooter and scoring guard, Tyler was a star for Charleston High from 1981-83. His teams were not as good as the Charleston teams from the 1960s and '70s, but Tyler went on to stardom at the University of Charleston playing for Tex Williams. The 1986 UC team was one of the best in the history of the West Virginia Conference.
Monte Smith, who probably would have been a star for any other team in the Kanawha Valley Conference but was a reserve for the Charleston teams from 1973-75 that won back-to-back AAA state titles. Smith went on to school at WVU and has been a longtime leader in business in the Kanawha Valley.
John Vencill, who was a longtime assistant coach at Charleston High with Romano and Frank Vincent. Prior to his coaching days, Vencill was a tremendous player at Gauley Bridge High School.
There were other former players in attendance, including George Washington's Jason Lunsford, DuPont's Larry Lohan and Wahama's Mark Mitchell. I am sure I am leaving out many others.Most of those in attendance at looked like they can still play. Reach Frank Giardina at firstname.lastname@example.org.