Best of the Rest: Ruth among a stellar cast of ballers

07/29/2011 7:53 AM |

NEWS-REVIEW FILE PHOTO | Mike Ruth helped lead Riverhead to the Long island championship in 1995.

While Al Edwards and Ryan Creighton are the only two local boys basketball players to crack our list of the 20 Greatest Athletes in area history, there is actually a fairly rich history of local hoops.

Here are some other great area basketball players who warranted serious consideration for our list:

MIKE RUTH

Mike Ruth, Riverhead High School

Ruth joins Creighton and McClurkin on the very short list of local players who have led their team to an appearance in the state final four at Glens Falls.

An explosive 5-8 point guard, he was perhaps the most athletic high school hoopster in area history.

Ruth led Riverhead to a 79-76 win over Westbury in the 1995 Class B Long Island championship game. Known by teammates as “The Franchise,” he iced the victory with a pair of free throws down the stretch, en route to a 20-point performance.

Ruth averaged 23.3 points per game his senior year, enough to earn him USA Today All-American Honorable Mention status, a distinction given to about 20 players from each state.

He went on to play his college basketball at Suffolk County Community College, where he scored 910 career points, seventh best in school history.

JAIME LATNEY

Jaime Latney, Greenport High School

Few, if any, local players have had the same level of success on the college hardwood as Greenport graduate Jaime Latney. And the 6-foot-6 standout’s signature game at Fairleigh Dickinson University is preserved in the New York Times archives.

It was March 10, 1988 and Latney and his Knights teammates were one win from the NCAA tournament.

The senior forward put his team on his back in the East Coast Athletic Metro Conference Championship, scoring a career-high 39 points to set a tournament record in a 90-75 win over Monmouth. He scored 30 points and pulled down seven rebounds in the first half alone.

His coach called it the best performance in a half of basketball that he’s ever seen. He was named Tournament MVP.

Latney averaged more than 18 points and eight rebounds his senior season. He was a three-time All-ECAC first team selection and he earned All-Freshman honors in 1985.

As a freshman, he hit a layup that pulled Fairleigh Dickinson to within a basket late in the second half against No. 1 seed Michigan in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. While the Knights didn’t win the game, the four-point defeat is among the closest a No. 16 seed has ever come to winning a tournament contest.

Latney would go on to play professionally in the CBA and Europe.

He’s the only Greenport player to ever score 1,000 points in both high school and college.

WILL MCCLURKIN

Will McClurkin, Longwood High School

Perhaps the finest individual player to ever wear a Longwood boys basketball uniform, McClurkin also experienced a great deal of team success as a senior.

The 6-foot-9 inch forward helped lead the 1999-2000 Lions to the school’s only appearance in a state title game. He scored a school record 571 points that season, as Longwood’s season ended in a 76-69 overtime loss to Mount Vernon and future NBA star Ben Gordon.

McClurkin scored 900 points during his Longwood hoops career, fourth best in school history and the second most for any three-year player.

His best individual game was a 33-point effort in a playoff win against Southampton his senior year. Always steady, he averaged just under 23 points per game that year, while also setting a school record with 264 rebounds.

McClurkin is the only Longwood player to ever make an MSG All Tri-State Team, one of just seven  Lions to make All-State and Newsday’s All-Long Island squad.

He went on to play his first two years of college at University of Maryland-Baltimore County before transferring to Marist College.

He averaged about 15 points and eight rebounds per game in his senior season with the Red Foxes.

McClurkin ended his playing career with a  stint of professional ball in Ireland.

RONALD MANNING

Ronald Manning, Longwood High School

Manning is the only local player ever drafted by the NBA, though he opted for the ABA and never played a regular season game in either league. He was the final player taken in the 1972 NBA draft as an 18th round selection of the Chicago Bulls.

Manning accomplished a lot of firsts for Longwood during his  four-year career that ended in 1968. He’s the school’s first All-Long Island selection and the first to receive a Division I Scholarship.

His 815 career points rank him among the Lions’ all-time leading scorers and he’s one of just 10 Longwood players to average 20 points per game in a season. His career-high 35 points on Jan. 12, 1968 is the eighth best single-game tally in school history.

Manning played four seasons at Manhattan College.

He’s perhaps best known as a long-time school board member at Longwood.

WILL BROWN

Will Brown, Miller Place High School

While a senior at Miller Place High School in 1989, Brown averaged 35 points per game en route to All-State honors. He was also an All-Long Island selection and a three-time All-County player, playing for his father, longtime Miller Place coach and athletic director William Brown, Jr.

Will Brown played collegiate basketball at Dowling College, starting for three years. He finished his career as the school’s all-time leader in assists, 3-point field goals and free-throw percentage, and is the only player in Dowling history to score 1,000 points and tally 500 assists. He also played second singles on the school’s tennis team.

Brown is perhaps best known as the men’s basketball coach at Albany, where he led the Great Danes to their first two appearances in the NCAA tournament. He has 219 career collegiate coaching wins.

He is a member of the Suffolk County Sports Hall of Fame.

gparpan@northshoresun.com