The year 2020 has come and gone, but here are a few accomplishments from the year that could not be overlooked.
It is not often that high school basketball players from the state of Minnesota are drafted into the NBA, but four were selected in 2020.
Former Hopkins standout Zeke Nnaji (Denver Nuggets), who starred at the University of Arizona; former DeLaSalle star Tyrell Terry (Dallas Mavericks), who played at Stanford University; former Cretin-Derham Hall forward Daniel Oturu (Minnesota Timberwolves, later traded to the Los Angeles Clippers)), who dominated while playing at the University of Minnesota; and former Apple Valley point guard Tre Jones (San Antonio Spurs), who starred at Duke University, all were drafted with each making their team’s final roster.
Augsburg University had a women’s basketball season to remember in 2020, finishing with a 22-5 overall record, 17-3 conference mark, and runner-up finish in the MIAC tournament behind former metro area prep stars Camryn Speese (DeLaSalle), Tamira McLemore (Eagan), Aiza Wilson (DeLaSalle), Arianna Jones (Osseo), Jasmyn Solseth (St. Croix Lutheran) and Kaezha Wubben (Hopkins).
MIAC All-Conference honors went to McLemore and Speese. Wubben and McLemore were selected to the All-Defensive Team. McLemore was also named to the All-Sportsmanship Team. Jones, Solseth, Wilson and Wubben made the Honorable-Mention Team.
Vern Simmons, one of the most successful boys’ basketball coaches in state history in leading St. Paul Johnson, retired in 2020 after 20 years.
Simmons’ captured 15 St. Paul City Conference championships, five Twin City crowns, and 10 state tournament appearances, winning the Class 3A state title in 2010 with a 32-0 record.
Before the end of 2020, the Suburban East Conference had four African Americans coaching girls’ basketball: Crystal Flint (Cretin-Derham Hall), Tanysha Scott (Roseville), Ashley Ellis-Milan (East Ridge) and Willie Taylor (Stillwater).
Dr. Mitchell Palmer McDonald is a contributing columnist at the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder.