The question recently was put to Stanislaus District legend Chuck Hayes during a casual conversation with his AAU assistant basketball coaches.
“Of all the greats who ever played at Modesto Christian,” the 2001 MC graduate and 11-year NBA veteran was asked, “who had the best overall high school career?”
It’s an intriguing question since there’s no shortage of candidates, as one might expect, given the Crusaders have won a Sac-Joaquin Section record 18 championships.
Adrian Oliver (2006), Anthony Townes (2015) and Hayes (2001) were popular choices.
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Another name that was bandied about: Christian Ellis, The Modesto Bee’s 2015-16 Co-Player of the Year who will attend Division I Southern Illinois-Edwardsville on scholarship.
Ellis will make his final appearance in a Modesto Christian jersey Friday night in the 21st annual 6-County All-Star Senior Basketball Game. The girls game is scheduled for a 6 p.m. tipoff at Modesto Junior College, and the boys game is slated to begin at 7:30.
“Some thought I had the best career, but I didn’t start as a freshman,” Hayes said. “Christian started during his freshman year. And he played in the (NorCal Regional playoffs) Open Division.
His standing as one of MC’s greatest ever is something Ellis hasn’t thought much about.
“Not really,” said Ellis, a 6-foot-3 point guard who averaged 12.1 points, 6.0 rebounds, 4.8 assists and 2.0 steals this season. “I’m honored by that, but I haven’t really thought about it.”
Ellis won four Sac-Joaquin Section titles (two in Division III, one in D-II and this season in D-I) with the Crusaders and posted a 115-19 record and a 52-0 league mark.
Unlike many MC greats, he never won a state title. Then again, unlike many MC greats, his route to a state banner went through the Open Division, the state’s highest, where he helped the Crusaders to the NorCal final the past two seasons and the semifinals the previous two.
“There’s nobody like him,” MC coach Richard Midgley said following Ellis’ 32-point, eight-rebound performance in the section semifinals in March. “Some may say I over-hype him, but he’s an animal. He’s the ultimate competitor and does whatever it takes to win.”
Ellis will play for the Blue Team while MC teammate and Co-Player of the Year Robinson Idehen will play for the Red Team. The MC stars will be joined by fellow Modesto Metro Conference standouts Alex Badillo (Gregori), Talolo Limu-Jones (Davis) and Maurice Woods (Johansen).
Injured all-stars Georgie Dancer (Beyer) and Peter Hamilton (Central Catholic) have been named honorary team members.
The girls game will feature Golden Valley’s Stephanie Moore, The Bee’s Player of the Year, as well as Modesto Christian’s Lailoni Gaines and Lexia Bell-White and East Union’s Olivia Vezaldenos.
21st annual 6-County All-Star Senior Basketball Game rosters
Blue Team: Ryan Halvorson (Argonaut), Jess Spivey (Sierra), Alex Badillo (Gregori); Talolo Limu-Jones (Davis), Eric Shaw (Amador), Oscar Moreno (Turlock), Nana Appiah (Patterson), Ethan McLaurin (Summerville), Jando Diaz (Pitman), Christian Ellis (Modesto Christian), Daniel Giannosa (Big Valley), Fred Lavender (Weston Ranch), Georgie Dancer (Beyer). Coaches: Dan Pacheco (Davis), T.J. Walker (Venture Academy).
Red Team: Robinson Idehen (Modesto Christian), Cody Haines (Ripon), Anand Hundal (Manteca), Brandon Cline (Calaveras), Dalton Rockwood (Mariposa), Kyle Anaya (Atwater), Daniel Wyatt (Sierra), Isaac Starks (Denair), Jake Land (Calaveras), Jaelen Ragsdale (Weston Ranch), Eli McLaurin (Summerville), Maurice Woods (Johansen), Peter Hamilton (Central Catholic). Coaches: Rod Wright (Ripon), Jairol Red (Big Valley Christian).
Blue Team: Olivia Vezaldenos (East Union), Naomi Peterson (Golden Valley), Lexia Bell-White (Modesto Christian), Lailoni Gaines (Modesto Christian), Sharn Sahota (Livingston), Nicole Graham (Ripon Christian), Sierra Nabors (Riverbank), Sierra Wilson (Downey), Jill Jamero (Ripon), Kayla Wilson (Sierra), Laurynn Leonard (Mariposa), Kaelee Lynch (Buhach Colony). Coaches: Pete Vargas (Downey), Martha Spivey (Sierra).
Red Team: Mikayla Mable (Central Valley), Lexi Thompson (Merced), Stephanie Moore (Golden Valley), Tina Lao (Livingston), Elyse Quenneville (Sonora), Jessica Orozco (Ripon Christian), Katarina Argandar (Beyer), Heaven Mazon (Atwater), Karla Calderon (Ripon), Cassie Balswick (Turlock Christian), Natalie Johnson (Tracy), Mayela Lopez (Orestimba). Coaches: Jesse Padilla (Central Valley), Nina Garcia (Livingston).