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TSN's Best of the Best project turns focus to men's basketball

By RICK PETERSON

TopSports.news

EDITOR'S NOTE: Over the coming weeks, TopSports.news will recognize hundreds of Shawnee County's all-time greats in 25 sports/categories as part of our Best of the Best project. Readers will have the opportunity to vote through July, with the Top 25 in all categories announced in August. To cast a vote for the Best of the Best, click on: https://linkto.run/p/QT6XB7WCEmail votes/nominations will also be accepted at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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Who is the greatest men's basketball player in Shawnee County history?

That's a toughie!

Is it Topeka High product Fred Slaughter, who started on John Wooden's first NCAA national championship team at UCLA, or former Hayden star Tom Meier, who helped the Wildcats post a perfect 25-0 season before going on to lead Washburn University to an NAIA national championship.

 Tom MeierTom Meier

KyleWeems4Kyle Weems

Or is it Silver Lake legend Lon Kruger, who won back-to-back Big 8 Player of the Year honors for Kansas State, or Highland Park's Kyle Weems, who helped lead the Scots to an undefeated state championship as a senior before earning Missouri Valley Player of the Year honors at Missouri State and going on to a long and continuing professional career overseas, including an Italian championship earlier this summer.

Former Highland Park stars like Dale Cushinberry and James Patrick also merit strong consideration as do Bob, Mike and Davy Babb, who made the Babbs Topeka's First Family of Hoops in the '70s, and more recent Scots like Lamont Austin, Rapheal Posey, All-Missouri Valley pick Theron Wilson and former SMU star Jahmal McMurray.

You can't overlook the late Ron Paradis and Delvy Lewis, who starred at Washburn Rural before going to noteworthy careers at Kansas State and Kansas, respectively, and if you're partial to KU, there's also former Jayhawk guards Mark Turgeon and C.B. McGrath to take a look at.

Other former Division I stalwarts include Oklahoma's Ted Evans, Indiana State's Jay Tunnell and Wichita State's Preston Carrington, who went on to make it to the Olympics in the long jump, while Gary Woodland was a two-time state champ and an All-Stater at Shawnee Heights before going on to post multiple wins on the PGA Tour, including the U.S. Open in 2019.

There are 25 candidates listed to pick from at https://linkto.run/p/QT6XB7WC while readers also have the option of writing in a name.

Vote as many times as you wish, with the only requirement that eligible candidates must have grown up in Shawnee County or attended one of the county's 10 high schools.

Final selections will be based on reader vote as well as input from TSN contributors and current and past local sports media professionals.   

Votes will be accepted through July 31 before TSN publishes our Best of the Best lists in August.

NEXT UP: Female bowling.

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