The St. Louis Times from St. Louis, Missouri on November 30, 1978 · Page 10
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The St. Louis Times from St. Louis, Missouri · Page 10

St. Louis, Missouri
Issue Date:
Thursday, November 30, 1978
Page 10
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Page 10 St. Louis NewsNovember 30, 1978 rui X - O ( i n , P . f i I JLja . "- i, MTV' """" f i . by John Sonderegcjer If Steve Stipanovich lets his head swell up to reach the proportions of the rest of his gigantic body (6 feet, 11 inches and 240 pounds), forgive him. The "other" national pastime will begin in earnest Friday night as basketballs start pounding the hardwood at high schools from Maine to California. Big schools, small schools, medium-sized schools. They all play the game. If figures were kept, high school basketball undoubtedly would be the largest spectator sport in the nation. And the stars of this wondrous world of double-dribbles and slam-dunks are all hoping to catch the eye of some big-time college coach. When S'tipanovich begins his senior seasonfor DeSmet High's Spartans Friday night at Normandy's Viking Hall, the guest of honor will be the biggest ofbig-time coaches. Joe B. Hall, coach of the NCAA champion Kentucky Wildcats, has deemed it necessary to attend Stipanovich's opening night. All things considered, that's the biggest vote of confidence any prep senior in America could get. A pre-season All-America, Stipanovich may be the nation's most-sought high school player. If he's not No. 1 on everybody's list, he's at least in the top five. "This is a whole new experience for me," said DeSmet Coach Rich Grawer, who has coached two state championship teams and a number of major college players. Indeed. When it became apparent that Stipanovich would become the big man everyone coveted, Grawer was a little perplexed. "I kept saying. 'He's not that good,'" said Grawer. "I mean I told them he's good, but he's not THAT good." However, Grawer was remembering the way Stipanovich played last year when he was Stipanovic (Steve's gone back to the original spelling of his Serbian family name). DeSmet went 31-1 and won the Missouri Clas 4A championship last year. It was Mark Dressier, a 6-6 forward nowplaying for Missouri, who caught everyone's eye and Stipanovich played second fiddle. The big guy wasn't dominating as a junior. As Grawer said, he was good, but not THAT good. After the state tournament last spring,-Stipanovich joined the Sportsprint team in St. Louis County and competed in the Amateur Athletic Union tournament. His team won the Missouri title and went to the nationals in Jacksonville, Fla. There, Stipanovich batted heads with other big guys from Washington, D.C., and New York City. Not only did he survive, he impressed his opponents. Then he returned home and began lifting weights and hitting the road for crosscountry running. He was preparing for the B.C. (Bill Cronauer) Camp in Georgia. "Coaches from all over the country were there," said Stipanovich, "and I guess I hhad a pretty good camp." When he returned to St. Louis, the letters started flowing into DeSmet. And Grawer's phone started ringing. Grawer then started wondering what was going on. "You sure you're talking about my big guy?" he would ask. Stipanovich meantime, kept working on the weights and running and shooting baskets. This time, he was preparing for the camp at the University of Kentucky. Once again, the kid from St. Louis drew great reviews. Grawer then realized what was going on. He had a bona fide top draft choice (collegiate) on his hands. So he drew up a list of rules and sent them to the schools that had shown an interest. The DeSmet letterhead went to such basketball factories as UCLA, Kentucky, Notre Dame, Duke.North Carolina, etc., etc., etc. "We told them we would open the gym to scouts and coaches on Wednesdays and that they would not be allowed in the locker room after games,'-' Grawer said. On the first Wednesday practice session of the season, DeSmet practiced before the eyes of Digger Phelps of Notre Dame, Bill Foster of Duke, Norm Stewart of Missouri, Ron Ekker of St. Louis University and scouts from Kentucky, North Carolina and Southern Illinois University-Carbondale. Continued on Page 17 Steve Stipanovich dwarfs two of his teammates (above) about the way he is expected to dwarf the rest of DeSmet's competition this season. Coach Rich Grawer points out a few things to his offense (right) at a recent practice session. DeSmet's 6-Foot-ll Steve Stipanovich Mai; Be Nations Most-Sought Player ""S ' ; , . - f " . 7 k - " H U .h I

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