There were some memories flying around the gym when the Dudley Panthers hosted their big Basketball Reunion this past Saturday afternoon. The reunion brought back together members of the 1996 State 4-A Championship team and the runner-ups from the 3-A State Title game in 2000. The game between the 1996 and 2000 teams was played in conjunction with a Free Basketball Camp that Brendan Haywood was conducting at Dudley during the day on Saturday.
Haywood was giving something back to the community and the players treated the fans at the Dudley gym to some wide open offense and some play- trailing defense. You could tell some of the men were a bit rusty but it didn’t take long for the players to get it going up and down the court again.
Haywood wasn’t the only NBA player in the house. Sean May of the Charlotte Bobcats was on the 2000 squad as an honorary member. May is best friends with Damien Price, the coach, David Price’s son and Damien and Sean went to college and played on the team together for the North Carolina Tar Heels and now Price and May are roomates down in Charlotte. A Washington Wizard (Haywood) and a Charlotte Bobcat(May) in the HOUSE.
As for the game the 1996 team won it by 15 and I was very impressed with the way Vincent Whitt was getting it done. Whitt hasn’t missed a beat and the former Clemson Tiger and South Carolina State Bulldog can still run with the best of them. Whitt, Haywood, and Braxton Williams formed the nucleus of the 1996 champions. Other 1996 team members on the court on Saturday included Derrick Hicks(Eric Hicks brother), Derrick Partee, Allen O’Neal, Kenny Ferguson, and Darian Price(another of Coach David Price’s sons). Braxton Williams was in attendance but did not play, he sat on the bench in street clothes.
The 2000 team returnees featured Chris Ferguson(played at Campbell and NC A&T), Ryan Brown, Dominique Brown, Damien Price, Nick Bowden, Steven Sanya, Ricky Lewis(played football at NC A&T), and Mike Hayes( hoops NC A&T). Sean May was with the 2000 team and he played about half the game. Eric Hicks(Cincinnati) 2000 team member was at the game but did not play.
It was neat to see all these kids back in the gym at Dudley playing hoops together again. Skip the ever-original public announcer was calling out the names and the nick-names and it was just like being back in 1996 and 2000 all over again. I had the privilage to broadcast both of the championship games on the Radio(1996 on WKEW 1400AM and 2000 on WPET 950AM) and the trip back in time was a good ride. I worked with guys like Jim Gentry, Jim Pritchett, Craig Kabatchnik, James Tucker, and Bobby Taylor on those games.
It was fun to go back, but we have to go forward and on Tuesday we will tackle another current issue that our readers are talking about.