Do you ever wonder why our all-time lists always begin at the 1954-1955 season and go back no further? It’s not because we don’t have any information about high school basketball before then in our vast files.
It’s simply because before that season, there were still plenty of segregated high schools, especially in the South where segregation was the norm under Jim Crow law.
High schools were segregated and many times fine white teams and athletes never got to test their skills against their black counterparts, and vice versa.
The landmark United States Supreme Court case, Brown vs. Board of Education, was handed down on May 17, 1954. It declared state laws establishing separate public schools for black and white students unconstitutional. Brown vs. Board of Education paved the way for the eventual integration of public schools and was a major victory of the civil rights movement.
Segregated schools still existed for some time after that and it wasn’t really that long ago when many prominent black athletes still attended schools only with other black students. In fact, a national tournament for Black schools took place from 1929 all the way until 1967, when the tournament was held for the final time at Phillips High in Montgomery, Ala.
GrassrootsHoops.net doesn’t know how to credibly name players of the year or produce retroactive All-American teams prior to Brown vs. Board of Education because were just not sure of the competition level of the segregated schools, especially since they did not have the funding of non-segregated schools. It’s also not easy by any means to compile results or all-region and all-star teams from segregated schools. We know these schools had fine athletes, but reporting and record-keeping is much harder to uncover prior to the 1954-55 season.
Besides, that was Wilt Chamberlain’s senior season at Philadelphia’s Overbrook High School and before The Dipper, colleges mainly recruited on a regionalized basis and many times focused on recruiting the kids of its alumni. Chamberlain was the nation’s first true “Blue Chip” or “5-Star” recruit with colleges from all over the country vying (and even willing to pay) for his services. Chamberlain is arguably the best player ever and is the standard-bearer for all the Mr. Basketball USA selections that followed.
All of our All-American basketball teams prior to 1989 have been chosen retroactively based on research by publisher and editor Ronnie Flores, recommendations from senior editor Mark Tennis and from lists compiled by National High School Record Book founder Doug Huff. We are currently compiling All-American teams dating back to the 1954-55 season that we’ll eventually publish in an e-book and online.
All of the All-American teams since 1989 have been chosen at the conclusion of that particular season and will not be changed. The retroactive selections are a fluid document, meaning new information can be uncovered at any time and the teams updated.
To report on any possible omissions or to make a retroactive nomination, call 323.573.6921. You may email GrassrootsHoops.net publisher and editor Ronnie Flores at email@example.com.