The Mountain Brook Spartans basketball program has written their incredible legacy since Bucky McMillan has been in charge. McMillan, now in his 11th season, has led the Spartans to 4 state championships already in 2013, 2014, 2017 and 2018. This is also the Spartans 6th Final Four in seven years under McMillan as they face the 4th ranked Robert E. Lee Generals in the semifinals of the Alabama High School Athletic Association state championships at the BJCC’s Legacy Arena tomorrow at 10:30 AM CT for the right to play for another state championship. The game will be broadcast by the NHFS network online. Saturday’s championship game is at 5:45 PM pitting the Spartans-Generals winner versus the Baker-Hoover winner The game will be broadcast by channel 80 on Charter Spectrum Cable. The Spartans set their sights on a 3 peat starting tomorrow.
The Spartans at 29-3 are No.1 in the state. But this story is much richer than that. The Spartans are ranked No.5 in the country by the USA Today in its Super 25 rankings. What’s just as impressive, if not more so, is the Spartans’ victories over national powerhouses this season.
The Spartans played in the City of Palms Tournament in Fort Myers, FL. in December and defeated now No.4 IMG Academy, 72-67. It was a phenomenal performance by the team and its superstar, Trendon Watford, who played against 3 5 stars and 2 4 stars on IMG’s starting 5 and poured in 38 points. The 5 star himself, who is being recruited by LSU, Memphis, Alabama and now Duke, was the best player on the court that night. McMillan stresses the magnitude of that victory. IMG power forward Jeremiah Robinson -Earl is a 5 star and is the 10th ranked player in the country by Rivals. He's 6’9, 235. He is going to Villanova. 5 star shooting guard Josh Green for IMG is a 5 star and the 6’6”, 185 pounder is going to Arizona. He is the 12th ranked player in the country. 5 Star center Armando Bacot, 6’10”, 235, is going to a little outfit called the University of North Carolina. He is the 18th ranked player in the country. 4 Star shooting guard Lester Quinones, 6’5”, 200, is the 44th ranked player in the country and undecided but with multiple major offers,. And 4 star small forward Terrence Shannon JR. is 6’7”, 185 and the 57th ranked player in the country and undecided but highly sought after by major programs. So that victory was beyond spectacular by the Spartans. The next day, after an incredibly, powerfully, hard fought, massively amazing victory that took all the perseverance, endurance and energy the Spartans could muster, the Spartans had extremely tired legs and lost to USA Today No.2 McEachern, 50-29. It was impossible for the Spartans, which finished at 10:30 PM the night before, to get the energy back up to play McEachern. It was an overwhelming task, so the result was meaningless. It was like playing the Golden State Warriors and defeating them the night before then having to play LeBron and the Lakers the next day.
The victory over IMG was so special. McMillan believes strongly that IMG will finish the season as the No.1 team in the country. Bucky said that IMG would beat McEachern more times than McEachern would beat them, so the IMG victory was remarkable in so many ways.
The Spartans also had a majorly impressive victory over Memphis East, 51-47, in a game played in Mississippi. Memphis East has the No.3 player in the country in 7’0”, 210 center James Wiseman, who’s going to play for Penny Hardaway at Memphis. 4 star Malcolm Dandridge, a 6’7”, 220 pound power forward who is also going to Memphis, also plays on Memphis East’s team. So another phenomenal victory for the Spartans. The Spartans also defeated Olive Branch, Mississippi, in November, 56-53. Olive Branch features 4 star power forward D.J. Jeffries, who is 6’7”, 200 and playing at Memphis next season as well. The Spartans have plowed through the state with their only in-state loss coming to Wenonah, 52-48, in November, in probably the toughest gym in the state to play in. If the Spartans played them at Mountain Brook they’d probably win by 20. But Wenonah Gym is difficult for any team to win at. Plus Wenonah is No.1 in Class 5A and will most likely win the state. They are 29-5. The Spartans only other loss is to DeLaSalle of Minnesota in Souix Falls South Dakota, 63-62. It was a heartbreaker. After the Spartans had taken a 62-60 lead with 7 seconds left, DeLaSalle hit a 3 at the buzzer.
But this season has been an epic. This team is the highest nationally ranked team ever from Alabama. Trendon Watford numbers are phenomenal. He is 6th all time in the state in points scored with 3,543. He is 1st all time in rebounds with 1,890. He averages 24.2 points per game, 12 rebounds and has dished out 3 1/2 assists. Duke has gotten involved in his recruiting, and when Duke calls, much like Alabama and Clemson in football, you listen. Trendon is shooting 46% from the field, 255 of 418, 41% from 3, 45 of 110, and 138 of 178 from the line, 78%. That’s phenomenal.
Alex Washington is just as impressive. He’s going to Harvard next season to play football and basketball. Junior Colby Jones is averaging 14.6 ppg and is very interested in Yale, which wants him. Lior Berman is averaging 10.7 ppg, and 4.2 rebounds. He has been offered by Springhill and some other schools. He is waiting till the end of the season to decide.
McMillan has created a spectacular culture at Mountain Brook. At a recent pep rally, Bucky told me he asked the senior, junior, sophomore and freshmen classes how many of them were the 2013 and 2014 Final Fours. 90% of each class raised their hands. McMillan’s program is some kind of terrific in this community, throughout the state and now nationally. This is a national powerhouse program that is conducted with integrity and character led by McMillan and the superb players/young men on his team.
There will be opportunities for this superstar coach in the college game, but McMillan is still extremely happy at Mountain Brook and told me, “I will fight for every player and person in this community.”
McMillan has created a culture of honor and integrity in Mountain Brook basketball. And one heckuva high school basketball program that could one day be the best team in the country. The state won’t allow this team to travel to California to be one of the top 8 schools competing for the national championship. That’s too bad because it would be awesome to see this team get its shot. The state is protecting the players academically and that’s honorable. But it would be pretty awesome to see Bucky’s outfit try to win it all. They certainly have the hearts of champions and are championship people. It’s an amazing story and one that will have a lasting legacy throughout this community and this state.