The process of writing feature stories on former Indiana All-Star basketball players from Johnson County high schools began in late January.
Email correspondence with 1991 Indian Creek graduate Natasha Weddle touched off a series of phone calls, text messages and more emails in an attempt to keep readers connected — albeit distantly — to the best players from this area.
Occasionally this meant texting one person, who would call someone else, who would then dig through a list of contacts to find the information necessary.
But we got it done.
There was no pattern to the order in which the former All-Stars were profiled.
What was written about Weddle preceded, in order, stories focused on Anna Waugh (Franklin, 2000), Jerry Nichols (Greenwood, 1971), Nikki (Anderson) Cerbone (Center Grove, 1987) and so on.
We were off and running. All while trying to maintain our dribble.
Eight former girls All-Stars were gracious with their time and the picture the years since their respective high school graduations have painted. Two former All-Stars from Indian Creek, Adrienne (Squire) Morelli (2004) and Kris Coner (2005) politely chose not to take part.
Former Center Grove player Lisha (Robertson) Wilson, the county’s first girls All-Star in 1979, had been written about a few weeks before Weddle due to her induction into the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame.
Ally Lehman, a Indiana All-Star from Indian Creek, wasn’t included in the series. About to enter her sophomore season at Northern Illinois University, the 6-foot guard/forward is profiled once or twice a year in these pages.
The same applies to 2011 Center Grove graduate Andrew Smeathers, the latest of seven Johnson County boys who have worn the coveted Indiana All-Star uniform.
Four of these young men were honored in the first six years of Indiana All-Star teams being named, starting with Franklin’s George Crowe, the Indiana’s first Mr. Basketball in 1939. Two years later it was Greenwood’s John Mark Bass modeling the No. 1 jersey.
Our country’s involvement in World War II put All-Star announcements on hiatus for two years in the mid-1940s, though 1944 Whiteland product Jay McClain would be rightfully recognized during a ceremony 50 years later.
Sadly, Crowe, Bass and McClain are no longer with us, the legends of their basketball talents nonetheless preserved by old photographs, newspaper clippings and yarns spun by local old-timers.
Nichols, J.R. Angle (Indian Creek, 2004) and Smeathers are very much alive and well.
Then there is former Franklin High School forward Steve Van Antwerp, a 1959 Indiana All-Star whose story includes enough gray area to be mistaken for an overcast sky.
I’ve heard Van Antwerp passed away years ago. I’ve heard he’s alive and living in a small town in California (the person who sent this email has been contacted but has not responded).
More than anything, the name draws either blank expressions, shoulder shrugs or both.
The hope is Van Antwerp, who supposedly moved away from Johnson County in the 1960s after two years playing basketball at the University of Tennessee, is indeed alive and willing to some day be interviewed.
If not, let today’s piece on Bass be one last shot before the final buzzer.
Mike Beas is a sports writer for the Daily Journal. Send comments to email@example.com.