By Matt Caputo
Damn, time moves by fast! It was summer time, and the August’99 issue of SLAM fresh from the newsstand at the Roosevelt Avenue Station in Queens featured three players on three different covers. Vince Carter, Paul Pierce and Jason “White Chocolate” Williams each got individualized shine on the front of Issue #36. Basketball was the new “black.”
Taking a look back at SLAM’s High School All-Americans of the time, I remember thinking that these kids, who were only a few years older than I was at the time, were already stars. It seemed as if their success in the pros was more of an “inevitability” rather than just “possibility.” Jason Williams. Kenny Satterfield. Keith Bogans. These were guys that had national hype around them and the game to back it up. They were kids who were the subject of school bus conversations, lunch room arguments and barber shop banter from coast to coast.
So now, sometime removed from their high school glory, we catch up with SLAM 1999 All-American team.
Donell Harvey: After only a single season at the University of Florida Donell Harvey was taken by the Knicks with the 22 pick of the first round. Harvey eventually signed with the Mavericks, but never found a true home in the NBA. He’s spent time with the Nuggets, Magic, Hawks and Nets and in Greece and Turkey. He is allegedly spending 2007-2008 in Italy.
DerMarr Johnson: Johnson, a Washington, DC native, only needed to stick around the University if Cincinnati for a year before the Atlanta Hawks drafted him with the 6 pick in the 2000 draft. In 2002, Johnson was in a serious car accident and sidelined him for the entire 2002-2003 season. He returned to the court in 2003 and after a brief rehab in the ABA has played for the Knicks and the Nuggest. In July 2007, Johnson was charged with resisting arrest. Officers had to use a taser on the 6’9 Johnson in order to calm him down. He signed to play with Benetton Treviso of Italy in 2007-2008.
Jason Williams: Jason Williams had it all. He was a was a model student/athlete and his success continued in college. He helped Duke to the 2001 National Championship. While kids across America were rationalizing staying in college seven years, “Jay” Williams finished at Duke in three and was taken second in the NBA draft in 2002. He had a decent rookie season and seemed to be building a solid career for himself. In the summer of 2203, Williams was in a motorcycle accident that, essentially ending his playing career. He attempted a comeback with the Nets in 2006, but was cut after making a few preseason appearances to the delight of the crowd in his native New Jersey. After a quick minute in the D-League, Williams has begun a new phase in his life in the sports marketing world.
Lavell Blanchard: Staying home for college must have given LaVell Blanchard an advantage. The Ann Arbor, MI native averaged double figures in points for the Wolverines throughout his four years. However, his collegiate success didn’t translate into any firm NBA opportunities. He’s played in Italy and Germany since leaving school in 2003.
Jonathan Bender: Straight out of Picayune High School in the great state of Missippi, Jonathan Bender was a 7’0 project who never panned out. Although he had strong numbers coming out of H.S., he couldn’t seem to hit his stride in the NBA. He battled knee problems through his six years with the Pacers before retiring during the 2005-2006 season.
Keith Bogans: After a solid career at the University of Kentucky, Bogans has been able to hold onto NBA jobs with the Charlotte Bobcats and Orlando Magic. He is scheduled to return to the Magic for 2007-2008.
Carlos Boozer Jr.: Carlos Boozer is easily one of the NBA’s most slept on players. A second round pick of the Cleveland Cavs in 2002, Boozer signed with the Utah Jazz before the 2004-2005 season. He helped the Jazz to the Western Conference Finals in 2007.
Joe Forte: Forte never lived up to the hype he had coming out of DeMatha High School in Maryland. He was drafted by the Celtics in the first round after two years at North Carolina. He played in 8 games for Boston in 2001-2002 and 17 games for the Sonics in 2002-2003. The Sonics waved him in October ’03 and he’s never made it back to the NBA since. In 2007, he signed a 2-year deal to play in Russia after spending the previous year in Italy.
Brett Nelson: Brett Nelson had great sophmore and junior seasons while at the University of Florida. However, after a poor senior year, and a lack of size, Nelson spent stints overseas and in the USBL before giving up on playing. He transitioned into college coaching and is currently an Assistant Coach at Marshall University.
Kenny Satterfield: At the end of two seasons at the University of Cincinnati, Kenny Satterfield had enough assists (355) to be fourth on the school’s all-time list. As an early entry in the 2001 draft, the Mavericks selected him late in the second round. He made his NBA debut with the Nuggets in 2001 and played 17 games with the 76ers in the next season. Since then he’s played in the D-League, ABA and a half dozen overseas destinations. He is considered to be one of the most dominant players on the New York City streetball scene.
Marvin Stone: the 6’10 Stone never reached his full potential. He played three years of college ball at Kentucky and a final year at Louisville. He has spent all his pro career overseaso, in NBA summer leagues and with rapper Nelly’s St. Louis Stunners ABA squad.
Brian Cook: The Lakers selected Brian Cook out of Illinois in 2003. A great combination of size and shooting touch, Cook is currently giving the Lakers 7 points and 3 rebounds in 15-plus minutes per game.
Leon Smith: Not only was Leon Smith a project who was years away from steady production when the Spurs selected him in the first-round of the ’99 draft, but he was a real asshole too. After blowing up at the Mavericks coaching staff during summer workouts, Smith was cut from the team and left to roam the unpaved hoops landscape as a troubled teen. With stops in the CBA, IBL, USBL and in Puerto Rico, Smith managed to play in 15 games with two teams (Hawks, Sonics) over two seasons. He signed to play in Jordan in 2005, left in April, and is not known to have played pro ball since.
Jason Kapono: After an early struggle to find an NBA game, Kapono is one of the NBA’s premier 3-point shooters. After spending time with the Cavs, Bobcats and Heat (where he won a championship) Kapono earned a big contract with the Toronto Raptors.
Casey Jacobson: A first round pick of the Suns n 2002, Jacobson is the quintessential journeyman, having played for the Suns, Rockets, Hornets and Grizzlies, as well as a stint or two overseas. Currently though, he should be in action with Memphis this coming season.