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Attendees at the Roanoke Valley Sports Club earlier this week were treated to a rare opportunity to voice their opinions at the Salem Civic Center.
When men and women got to their seats, they were faced by cards at which they were asked to furnish their selections as to the best basketball players to come out of the Roanoke Valley.
It was the brainchild of Salem product Brad Mullins, the newly named vice president of the sports club.
Leading the voting was former Cave Spring High School and Duke star J.J. Redick with 78 votes (out of a possible 100).
Second was former Patrick Henry High School and University of North Carolina star George Lynch, who had 53. Nobody else had more than 15 (Curtis Staples).
Longtime former Patrick Henry High School coach Dick Kepley, who himself received 12 votes, was heading to his car when asked whom he had selected; he was quick to mention Mike Franklin.
Franklin was a star at Lucy Addison High School in Roanoke before it was consolidated with Patrick Henry.
It was unclear how many in Monday’s crowd of over 100 were familiar with high school basketball in Roanoke in the 1970s and earlier.
Franklin, a 1975 draft pick of the Buffalo Braves, was a 6-foot-9, 250-pound forward who played for the University of Cincinnati and was a starter on the 1974-75 Bearcats team that finished 23-6 and reached the Midwest Regional final.
Some of the others who should be considered would be the late Charlene Curtis, who went from Roanoke to Radford, where she was the first 1,000-point scorer for the Highlander women.
Emery Wallace from Hidden Valley in Roanoke County was recruited unlike any other girl in Roanoke but was plagued by injury during her college career at Maryland.
Scheduled to speak when the sports club holds its next meeting on April 17 is Allen Lawrence, the general manager of the Salem Red Sox. Lawrence will be introducing the Red Sox manager, who has a particularly unusual story.
Salem’s manager to start the season this year will be Liam Carroll, who has served as manager of Great Britain’s national baseball team and has coached Seattle’s top prospect, catcher Harry Ford, from Great Britain.
Virginia, Virginia Tech and Liberty are three of the college football programs that have expressed interest, including offers, in Moritz “Schmo” Schmoranzer from North Cross School in Roanoke.
Schmoranzer, originally from Langenfeld in West Germany, is a 6-foot-3, 238-pound senior offensive lineman. Ex-Roanoke football star Shannon Taylor is the defensive coordinator at North Cross.
At midweek, Schmoranzer had 10 Division I offers.
Richie McKay, whose teams have gone 226-113 over the past 10 seasons at Liberty, was mentioned in connection with the head coaching job at Georgia Tech, where Josh Pastner was not retained. The school eventually named Damon Stoudamire as head coach.
McKay has had two head-coaching stints at Liberty, where his tenure was interrupted by two seasons as an assistant to Tony Bennett at UVa.
Going back to 1996, McKay also was a head coach at Portland State, Colorado State, Oregon State and New Mexico, going 367-242 overall.
Stoudamire and Pastner both played at Arizona with Stoudamire earning 1995-96 NBA Rookie of the Year with the Toronto Raptors. Pastner, who was born in Glen Dale, W.Va., had a 109-114 coaching record and has joined the ACC’s television network.