There were quite a few notable accomplishments before the prep basketball season concluded. Here are five of them.
Vern Simmons recently retired as the head boys’ basketball coach at St. Paul Johnson after a very successful 20-year career. During that span, his teams made 10 state tournament appearances, 15 City Conference championships, and five Twin Cities titles.
The crowning achievement of Simmons’ career came after leading the Governors to the Class 3A championship with a 32-0 record in 2010.
Jalen Suggs, a Minnehaha Academy student-athlete, became the first Minnesota athlete to win Mr. Football and Mr. Basketball in the same scholastic season. The 6’4” senior is headed to Gonzaga next season on a basketball scholarship.
During his outstanding career, Suggs quarterbacked the SMB football team to the Class 3A title in 2018 and three consecutive Class 2A basketball crowns from 2017-2019.
Willie Taylor led Stillwater to their second consecutive Class 4A state tournament appearance a few weeks ago. Taylor is well remembered for leading St. Paul Central, one of the most dominant teams in state history, to a 32-0 Class 4A state title in 2007.
To prove it wasn’t a fluke, they won it again in 2008. Marlon McCoy was one of the state’s top basketball prospects when he led St. Agnes to the Class A 1994 boys’ basketball title as a senior. Today he is developing into one of the state’s top coaching prospects. This past season, only his second, McCoy led St. Paul Central to a third-place finish in the St. Paul City Conference.
Larry Mackenzie recently led Minneapolis North to its seventh consecutive City Conference championship. The Hall of Fame coach has not been a stranger to success. From 2000-2004 he coached Minneapolis Henry to four consecutive Class 3A state championships.
He left the Patriots to coach the archrival Polars and proceeded to win back-to-back Class 1A state championships in 2016 and 2017.
Dr. Mitchell Palmer McDonald is a contributing columnist at the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder.