Monday, July 17, 2017

Chaney Alum Part II

Wesley Johnson

Iowa State/Syracuse University


After a brief stay at Iowa State, Johnson’s loud impact at Syracuse reverberated throughout the country. In going above and beyond the expectation level set for him, Johnson was able to stake his claim as the best player in college basketball during the 2009-10 season.

He pieced together a 25-point showing during a win over defending NCAA champion North Carolina at the season's start, a portent of what was ahead.

Johnson’s mammoth performance was followed up immediately with a 17-point, 10-rebound performance which piloted ‘Cuse to a wowing upset of No.10 Florida.

 After being peppered with questions about whether he could sustain this smoking-hot start in the ultra-physical Big East, Johnson answered with a thorough 20-point, 19-board effort during a win at Seton Hall.

Johnson’s multi-layered scoring ability and knack for taking over games invigorated a Syracuse program initially enveloped by question marks. Heading into Johnson’s lone year with the Orange, the program had lost key pieces such as Jonny Flynn, Eric Devendorf, and Paul Harris—a significant percentage of their offensive output.

 Johnson immediately filled the gap, simultaneously keeping Syracuse buoyant in the talent-heavy Big East, averaging 16.0 points and 8.4 rebounds.
Consistent numbers and a pattern of stellar performances in high-stakes games vaulted Johnson to the periphery of National Player of the Year. He wound up earning a First Team All-American nod.

Categorized as a lottery pick and gaining traction on a variety of expert pre-drafts, Johnson opted to circumvent his final year of college and declare himself eligible for the NBA draft. He was selected with the fourth overall pick of the draft, taken by the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Johnson carved a niche for himself with the Pheonix Suns, where he became a dependable scoring threat who piloted the perimeter game. His NBA journey included spots with the Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers. Johnson flourished with the Lakers, tallying career-highs in nearly every statistical category.


Antonio Anderson

University of Memphis


Anderson was the catalyst of Chaney’s marquee and memorable Laurinburg Prep team, which is widely regarded as the best prep team ever. Maximizing their capabilities on the hardwood and never looking back, this team ran foes out of the gym. They pulled off a historic, unrivaled 40-0 on the season, pummeling teams by a 40-point average margin of victory. Just five games on the season were won by 20 points or less, a portent of their sheer dominance. From the beginning of the season, this special group made it clear anything less of a national championship would be a disappointment. Chaney even said publicly he would be disappointed if the team didn’t author a perfect, 40-0 season.

The team bought into Chaney’s philosophy, sacrificing individual totals and preferences for team success. They took strategic measures to getting better everyday, arriving at practice after running five miles to the gym.

The team thrived with oceanic depth and came at foes in waves, utilizing 17 different scoring leaders on the season. Sprinkled across one roster were 15 Division-I players, a statistical mark no team in prep history has been able to mirror.


At the forefront of these routine offensive onslaughts was Antonio Anderson, a well-built 6-foot-6 215-pound guard. As part of a four-man group that penned with Memphis under famed coach John Calipari, Anderson was a hard-finisher with a mechanical, smooth jump shot and dependable 3-point game.

He averaged 10.0 points, 5.1 rebounds and 4.0 assists per game, active all across the floor as a two-way player. Anderson is one of two Memphis players, second only to Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway, to register a triple-double. Despite going undrafted out of college, Anderson saw time in the NBA with the Houston Rockets, Charlotte Bobcats, and Oklahoma City Thunder.

Renaldo Balkman

South Carolina


While treated to a typical New York Knicks fan ovation and booed lustily on draft night, Balkman is best remembered for the spark he provided a dismal New York Knicks organization. Though the Knicks struggled mightily during Balkman’s stay, he was one of few promising spots.
Balkman supplied relentless energy, heart, hustle, and dazzling finishes in the open court while bringing quick-hit energy off the bench. Balkman fit a need in the NBA with his defensive motor and ability to play scrappy, workmanlike basketball.

This dogged style endeared him to Chaney, whose Laurinburg teams constantly held foes well under their scoring average. Though more of an interior banger than a shut-down defender, Balkman’s in-your-grill style and ferocity on the defensive glass paid dividends. His ability to play rim to rim, flying all over the court and sacrificing his body for loose balls sparked a team hell-bent on making history.

During his stay at South Carolina, Balkman’s pesky style led to a pair of victories over eventual national champion Florida. He was extremely active across all statistical categories during the 2006 National Invitational Tournament, averaging 9.6 points, 6.3 boards, 1.9 assists, 1.7 steals, and 1.3 blocks en route to bagging MVP honors. Balkman’s high-motored, high-octane style solidified him as an appealing choice to NBA scouts.

Balkman’s NBA career included time with the Denver Nuggets and a detour back to the New York Knicks, where he was instrumental in helping the team snap an exasperating playoff drought in 2011-12. He is best remembered for his ability to guard multiple positions, from guards to bigs. His professional career included overseas stops in Mexico, Venezuela, The Dominican Republic, and Panama.

Bobby Maze

University of Tennessee

High-voltage, crafty, and boisterous, Bobby Maze was known for his innate attacking ability. Never reluctant to thread through defenders or go smack into traffic for acrobatic finishes, Maze’s flair for the exhilarating made him a fan favorite at Tennessee. Floating up lobs, hitting runners, speeding the ball upcourt, and knifing into the driving lanes, Maze brought boundless energy to Bruce Pearl’s team.

When Chaney left Laurinburg for a new opportunity to build up the Patterson School (also in North Carolina), Maze was a pivotal piece in easing the transition. He was a prototype Chaney guard, bringing a multi-tooled skill-set and utilizing his athleticism and instinctive style to make plays. Playing hard, sturdy defense and applying pressure all across the floor, Chaney was sold on a hyper-aggressive kid who brought unbridled passion and drive to the floor. He put together an all-state and all-county campaign at Suitland High School in Forestville, Md., where he averaged 20.3 points as a senior.

At The Patterson School, he wasn’t a primary scorer as much as he was a quarterback and veritable defensive pest. He averaged 14.0 points, 5.0 assists, and 3.0 steals, helping the team to a 34-3 record and No.3 national ranking. After cracking the top-40 of the nation’s elite post-graduate players, Maze signed his letter of intent to play at Oklahoma. Things never panned out, however, with Maze offering minimal contributions as a freshman and only starting five games.

He then transferred to Hutchinson Community College (KS), a traditionally-tough junior college in the hyper-competitive Jayhawk Conference. Maze left a lasting legacy at Hutchinson, averaging 20.7 points, 6.8 assists, and 1.7 steals en route to earning Conference Player of the Year accolades. Operating as a dual threat who made his teammates beneficiaries of his presence, Maze doled out 200 assists on the year. He set a school record when he dished 16 assists in a win over Barton County Community College.

During his second run at high-major basketball, Maze’s success at Hutchinson translated to Tennessee. He posted a double-double of 12 points and 11 assists in a win over Chattanooga. He scored 16 points and kicked in nine assists during a win over Georgetown. In a game against Kansas, he scored 14 points and pickpocketed three steals. Against Arkansas, Maze scored 13 points and drilled the game-winning 15-footer with under five seconds remaining. As a senior, Maze became one of the country’s elite guards. He showed out during heated matchups against South Carolina’s Devan Downey, frustrating the high-scoring guard with confrontational defense. Bolstered by a proclivity for blowing by defenders and snaking his way into the lane, Maze averaged 15 points, five assists, and six boards during to earn SEC Player of the Week following wins over Charlotte and Kansas. His leadership at the point guard position helped steer the vols to a 28-9 overall record (11-5 in the SEC) and a berth in the NCAA Elite Eight. Maze shined in an NCAA tournament victory over Ohio, dealing out nine assists.

Maze’s story is not atypical. Following a stellar high school career in Maryland, Maze generated interest at a variety of Division-I programs. Yet with no offer on the table, he opted for the prep route. When he first got to The Patterson School, he was on the second team with sharpshooter Jeremy Hazell. Both were eventually brought on to Chaney’s elite team. When their starting point guard suffered an injury and Maze got the start, he embraced the opportunity and never even looked in the rearview. The rest is history.

Maze remains a tight confidant of Chaney’s. He is active on the grass-roots scene, as the founder of the B.Maze Elite AAU program.