2005 EA SPORTS National Player of the Year Monta Ellis from Lanier High in Jackson is the latest hoop sensation to emerge from the Magnolia State, following 2004 1st Round NBA draft pick Al Jefferson from Prentiss and 1999 Student Sports National Player of the Year Jonathan Bender of Picayune. Before the selection of Bender, the last national player of the year candidate from Mississippi was Gulfport's Chris Jackson, a 1988 first team All-American who went on to become a first team All-American selection on the collegiate level as a freshman at LSU.
The Miami Heat's Alonzo Mourning, currently a back-up to Shaquille O'Neal, was selected the 1988 Student Sports National Player of the Year. That season produced one of the greatest classes of all-time (along with the Class of 1979) and Mourning was selected over Jackson, Billy Owens of Carlisle, Pa., Shawn Kemp of Concord High in Elkhart, In., and Stanley Roberts from Lower Richland High in Hopkins, S.C. Roberts, O'Neal, and Jackson all played together for former LSU coach Dale Brown during the 1989-1990 season.
In 2004, Jefferson was part of the strongest national class since '88 and was a first-team Student Sports All-American along with fellow NBA rookies Sebastian Telfair, Shaun Livingston, Josh Smith, and Dwight Howard. Although Telfair was named player of the year, Jefferson certainly made a strong case by dominating the competition in Mississippi Class 3A. The current Boston Celtic rookie averaged 42.6 points, 18 rebounds and seven blocks per game for the Bulldogs.
Like Jefferson, its doubtful Ellis will ever step foot on a college campus after lighting up the scoreboard for a different Bulldog squad. Ellis led Lanier to its second Class 4A title in four years by averaging 38.4 points, 7.9 rebounds, 6.9 assists and 4.5 steals a game for a squad that finished 35-2 with a No. 3 final ranking in the Student Sports FAB 50. The 6-foot-3 Ellis scored a Jackson Public School record 72 points against Greenwood High, yet another school nicknamed the Bulldogs.
His 72-point performance is tied for second on the all-time state single-game scoring list. Ellis' 4,167 career points is also second best in state history. In addition to his performances against Greenwood, Ellis scored 46 points in the Bulldogs' last loss in early December to No. 2 Oak Hill Academy. No player, not even-two-time National Player of the Year Lebron James, has scored as many points against the Virginia prep school power.
Read on to see who else besides James has twice been voted Student Sports National Player of the Year.
U.S. High School National Players of the Year (Student Sports selections; retroactive from 1996 back)
2005-Monta Ellis, Jackson, Ms., Lanier. 2004-Sebastian Telfair, Brooklyn, N.Y., Lincoln. 2003--LeBron James, Akron, Oh., St. Vincent-St. Mary. 2002--LeBron James (jr.), Akron, Oh., St. Vincent-St. Mary. 2001--Dajuan Wagner, Camden, N.J. 2000--Darius Miles, East St. Louis, Il. 1999--Jonathan Bender, Picayune, Ms. 1998--Rashard Lewis, Alief, Tx., Elsik. 1997--Tracy McGrady, Durham, N.C., Mt. Zion. 1996--Mike Bibby, Phoenix, Az., Shadow Mountain. 1995--Kevin Garnett, Chicago, Il., Farragut Academy. 1994--Felipe Lopez, New York, N.Y., Rice. 1993--Rasheed Wallace, Philadelphia, Pa., Simon Gratz. 1992--Jason Kidd, Alameda, Ca., St. Joseph. 1991--Chris Webber, Birmingham, Mi., Detroit Country Day. 1990--Damon Bailey, Bedford, In., North Lawrence. 1989--Kenny Anderson, Briarwood, N.Y., Archbishop Molloy. 1988--Alonzo Mourning, Chesapeake, Va., Indian River. 1987--Larry Johnson, Dallas, Tx., Skyline. 1986--J. R. Reid, Virginia Beach, Va., Kempsville. 1985--Danny Ferry, Hyattsville, Md., DeMatha. 1984--John Williams, Los Angeles, Ca., Crenshaw. 1983--Reggie Williams, Baltimore, Md., Dunbar. 1982--Wayman Tisdale, Tulsa, Ok., Washington. 1981--Patrick Ewing, Cambridge, Ma., Rindge & Latin. 1980--Glenn Rivers, Maywood, Il., Proviso East. 1979--Clark Kellogg, Cleveland, Oh., St. Joseph. 1978--Mark Aguirre, Chicago, Il., Westinghouse. 1977--Albert King, Brooklyn, N.Y., Fort Hamilton. 1976--Darrell Griffith, Louisville, Ky., Male. 1975--Bill Cartwright, Elk Grove, Ca. 1974--Moses Malone, Petersburg, Va. 1973--Adrian Dantley, Hyattsville, Md., DeMatha. 1972--Quinn Buckner, Dolton, Il., Thornridge. 1971--Maurice Lucas, Pittsburgh, Pa., Schenley. 1970--Tom McMillen, Mansfield, Pa. 1969--George McGinnis, Indianapolis, In., Washington. 1968--Paul Westphal, Redondo Beach, Ca., Aviation. 1967--Spencer Haywood, Detroit, Mi., Pershing. 1966--Calvin Murphy, Norwalk, Ct. 1965--Lew Alcindor, New York, N.Y., Power Memorial. 1964--Lew Alcindor (jr.), New York, N.Y., Power Memorial. 1963--Edgar Lacey, Los Angeles, Ca., Jefferson. 1962--Cazzie Russell, Chicago, Il., Carver. 1961--Bill Bradley, Crystal City, Mo. 1960--Connie Hawkins, Brooklyn, N.Y., Boys. 1959--Bill Raftery, Kearny, N.J., St. Cecilia's. 1958--Jerry Lucas, Middletown, Oh. 1957--Jerry Lucas (jr.), Middletown, Oh. 1956--Oscar Robertson, Indianapolis, In., Crispus Attucks. 1955--Wilt Chamberlain, Philadelphia, Pa., Overbrook.
Note: For more all-time lists and boys national basketball records, look under the "Quick Links" section on the StudentSportsBasketball.com home page. A premium subscription is required to view the online record book.