Some truly great basketball players have played at Logan High School’s Willie Akers over the last seven decades when the legendary facility was built.
Whether they were local players for the Logan Wildcats or were some of Logan’s opponents, plenty of talent has graced the floor of the hallowed basketball hall.
One of the latest was Trey Burke.
If you know college basketball you know Trey Burke very well.
Burke, a Michigan sophomore guard, is currently averaging 18 points, seven assists and 3.3 rebounds per game for Wolverine Coach John Beilein, the former West Virginia mentor.
Just last Saturday, Burke helped lead Michigan past Coach Bob Huggins’ WVU Mountaineers, 81-66, as part of the Brooklyn Hoops Winter Festival at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y.
Burke poured in a season-high 27 points to go along with eight assists and five rebounds as No. 3 Michigan improved to 11-0, matching its best start to a season since 1988-89 when the Wolverines went on to win its last NCAA national championship behind Glenn Rice, Rumeal Robinson, Loy Vaught and Terry Mills.
Two seasons ago, Burke was in Logan as his Columbus (Ohio) High School Vikings came to southern West Virginia to take on Wildcats at Willie Akers Arena. It was the first of a two-game series between the two unlikely opponents. Logan went to Columbus last season to take on the Vikings.
Burke and the Vikings would go on to beat Paul Hebert Williamson and the Wildcats, 74-60, in the January 2011 meeting.
It was a battle of two heavyweight teams.
Logan went on to a 15-11 record and eventually lost to Martinsburg, 64-48, in the first round of the Class AAA state tournament at the Charleston Civic Center.
Northland, then coached by Satch Sullinger, the father of former Ohio State star and Boston Celtics’ rookie Jared Sullinger, went on to a top 25 national ranking with a 26-2 record, falling in Ohio’s Division I state championship game to Cincinnati LaSalle.
During his 2010-11 senior season at Northland, Burke was named Ohio’s Mr. Basketball and earned Parade Magazine All-American honors.
Logan coach Mark Hatcher said he remembers the night Burke came to Logan every well.
“He guarded Paul and Deyonta (Coleman) guarded him,” Hatcher said. “He was a great player. I knew about him because Coach Beilein had called and we thought that he was going to be there that night but he just couldn’t come in. We had talked about how good of a kid that Trey Burke was. He was a leader out there on the floor and he was a tough player.”
Burke ended up dropping in 26 points on the Wildcats.
“He had 26 points but Paul and Deyonta played awfully well, too,” Hatcher said. “It was a really close game for a long time. It was a four-point game with about three minutes to go. He took over there at the end of the game and made all of his foul shots. I remember that we really couldn’t get the ball out of his hands at the end of the game. We tried every way possible. He was a great player and he had great character and great manerisms out there on the floor. I knew that he was a Coach Beilein type a player because he’s a very smart player.”
Burke, compared by one pro basketball sports writer to the NBA’s Chris Paul, was the Big 10’s Co-Freshman of the Year last season and was an NCAA All-American as he led the Wolverines in points, assists, steals and blocked shots and set a Michigan single-season freshman assists record.
During Burke’s prep career at Northland, the Vikings were 97-5 and were a perfect 57-0 in Columbus City League games.
After playing one season for Beilein in Ann Arbor, Burke mulled over leaving school and declaring early for the NBA Draft but untimately chose to return to Michigan for his sophomore season.
The Wolverines are glad he did and are poised to make a run at the Big 10 championship and the Final Four.
Burke is just one of the many top caliber players who have played at Logan’s Willie Akers Arena in the last decade or so, particularly in Logan’s marquee King Coal Classic tourney. That’s a testament to the Wildcats’ usual brutal schedule.
“If you look back in our tournament we’ve had Chris Thomas, who is one of the top players in the country right now,” Hatcher said. “We had Leek Leek and Deng Leek, who played here. Andrew Wiggins played here. We’ve had some big time players come through here who have played at the field house, especially in the last four or five years. Of course, Trey Burke is one of the best ones. You can turn on the TV and every couple of nights or so you’ll see someone that we’ve played against in the last four or five years. There’s a couple of guys on the Clemson team that we’ve played against as well as guys at South Carolina and Ole Miss. There’s a bunch of guys out there so it’s pretty cool.”
Deng Leek, a 7-foot center from Sudan, had signed out of high school to play at Western Kentucky for the Hilltoppers.
Leek was at the Logan field house in January 2009 as his Greensboro, N.C., team, Veritas Sports Academy, played in the King Coal Classic. Veritas won 57-36 over Logan.
Leek was so tall when exiting the locker room at Logan that he had to duck just to make it into the gym.
Wiggins, a 6-9 senior, stars for Huntington Prep and has also played at Logan’s King Coal Classic. The native born Canadian is one of the top college recruits in the nation. He is being recruited by such schools as Kentucky, Florida State, North Carolina, Ohio State and Kansas to name a few.
According to Future 150, Wiggins is the No. 1-ranked high school player in the country.
Wiggins’ Huntington Prep team is currently rated No. 1 in the nation.