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Remembering basketball names from the past

By Frank Giardina
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- At the start of the boys high school basketball season, here are some names of players and coaches from the past that many may have forgotten, but I haven't.
  • Sonny Allen - Hailing from the northern part of the state at Moundsville, Allen made a name for himself as a player at Marshall in the late 1950s before having a Hall of Fame coaching career at Old Dominion, SMU and Nevada. He won a Division II national title at ODU, where he recruited in-state players Buttons Speakes (Huntington), Skip Noble (St. Albans), Joey Caruthers (DuPont) and Wendell Morrison and Bill Herscher (St. Albans).
  • John Billups - A great player out of Gary High School in McDowell County, Billups led Ergie Smith and the Coaldiggers to the 1973 AA state title. They defeated a Magnolia team that featured future Marshall football star Fuzzy Filliez. Billups went on to be an outstanding power forward for Ole Miss. 
  • Joey Caruthers - He was a star on Old Dominion's 1975 team that won the Division II national title after being an all-state player at DuPont. Caruthers, Rick Denny and Keith Hager led the Panthers to the 1973 state tournament, their first trip there since 1959. Caruthers has been a longtime college basketball official in Virginia and the Carolinas. His brother, Neil, officiates locally.  
  • Gary Gregor - Gregor played at South Charleston High in the early 1960s and went on to play at South Carolina from 1966-68. He was the No. 1 pick of the Phoenix Suns in the 1968 NBA draft, the eighth pick overall. He made the NBA All-Rookie team and later played for the Atlanta Hawks, Portland Trailblazers, Milwaukee Bucks and New York Nets of the ABA.  
  • Lowell Harris - A 5-foot-6 guard for the 1973 and 1974 Charleston High teams that won AAA state titles, Harris went on to play at Kings College in Tennessee and returned as a longtime assistant at Capital High. 
  • Jerry Moore - The former Ansted star developed a state and national reputation at Morris Harvey in the early 1960s and became an outstanding coach at Sissonville High, coaching such stars as Raymond Jordan, Jerry Vorholt and Bobby Dawson. He left the state and became one of the best high school football coaches in New Jersey.  
  • Shan Phillips - Dubbed "The Greatest Show on Earth" when he starred at Charleston High in 1970 and 1971, the 5-6 Phillips was impossible to guard one-on-one. The story goes on the Donally Street playground one day when former CHS legend Curt Price was home from WVU on a brief Christmas break and he was told to guard Phillips in a pick-up game. Curtis replied, "Guard Shan? I'm home on vacation for a couple of days. I don't want to work that hard."  After a dazzling high school career and a state tournament semifinal appearance, Phillips played at Morris Harvey and made the West Virginia Conference all-tournament team as a freshman.
  • Robert Sanders - Sanders teamed with Stewart Mitchell, Wayne Casey and others to win back-to back AAA state titles at Stonewall Jackson in 1985 and 1986. Sanders went on to play at Jacksonville State in Alabama. 
  • Alan Williams - The senior leader on Princeton High's team that won the 1979 state championship over Logan, Williams played in college at Duke.
  • Albie Williams - He played his sophomore year at South Charleston before transferring to George Washington. Williams helped lead the Patriots to the 1971 AAA state title, played in the brand-new Coliseum in Morgantown. He went on to play at Richmond. 
  • Reach Frank Giardina at  
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