It’s taken some time, but the legacy of Minneapolis North High School continues to grow.
Former Polars great Khalid El-Amin let this be known in two Facebook posts last month.
One post shows newly displayed banners of the school’s Mr. Basketball winners—Redd
Overton (1981), Brett McNeal (1985), Derek Reuben (1988) and El-Amin (1997)—and Ms.
Basketball winners—Tamara Moore (1998) and Mauri Horton—in the school’s gymnasium
and a question on each from El-Amin.
“How many Mr. Basketball winners does your school have?” he asked on the first post.
“How many Ms. Basketball winners does your school have?” he followed up with on the second
post. The answer to those questions in his case is six. Here is what each accomplished to earn
such an honor.
Overton, a powerful rebound and inside presence as a 6’4” center, led the Polars to the Class
AA championship in 1981 as a junior and got them back to the tournament the following year
averaging 16 points per game.
McNeal led the Polars to three consecutive Class AA state tournaments from 1983-85
including two runner-up finishes to White Bear Lake his last two seasons. Though he played a
supporting role as a sophomore on the 1983 state tournament team, the 6’3” smooth-as-silk point
guard blossomed into the state’s top player with 19 points and six assists as a senior.
Reuben, a 6’2” guard, started playing a supporting role as a sophomore as the Polars finished
in third place in the Class AA state tournament in 1986. The following two years, the Polars
came up short of qualifying for the state tournament but remained dominant as Rueben led them
to consecutive number-one regular-season rankings. He averaged 16 points, four rebounds and
four assists as a senior.
El-Amin, who stood 5’10” and is recognized by many as the one of top point guards in state
history, led the Polars to consecutive state championships from 1995-97. He was brought up to
varsity as an eighth-grader and started at point guard the next four years. He averaged 20 points,
six assists, and four rebounds during his senior year.
Moore, a 5’11” guard who started from the time she was a freshman for the Polars, put them
on the basketball map, leading them to a Class 3A runner-up finish in 1997 and their first title in
’98. As a senior, she averaged 25 points, 11.5 rebounds, 6.7 assists and 5.7 steals while
displaying an all-around game in dominant fashion.
Horton, a 5’7” guard, was a junior when she teamed with Moore to lead the Polars to their
first title in 1998. The following year, after Moore graduated, she took over, displaying
leadership and overall floor game, leading them to the Class AA 1999 title after averaging 23.4
points, five rebounds, five assists and four steals.
The banners have been a long time coming as time moves on and the memories and history
of those before us fade. A few years ago, Reuben was coaching his boys’ basketball middle
school team in the city championship game held at North. As he looked around the gymnasium,
Rueben said something that was very telling at the time.
“My players and my kids come into this gym all the time and have no idea what we as
players accomplished here.”
The championship banners already displayed in the gymnasium were a great start. The Mr.
Basketball banners are a great addition.
I’m sure there will be more to come.
Dr. Mitchell Palmer McDonald is a contributing columnist at the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder.