When 7-foot Shaftesbury Titans graduate Todd MacCulloch first came on the basketball scene at the University of Washington in 1996, a not-so-kind sportswriter likened him to "an unplugged refrigerator running down the court."
Had the ink-stained scribe done his homework he might have held his judgment in check.
After all, who knew that this Canadian kid would average 18.7 points, 11.9 rebounds, and a .662 field goal percentage for the Huskies in his senior year? In addition, he led the NCAA Division I in field goal percentage in his final three years of college. He was an all-Pac Ten First Team selection in his final two years at Washington and was drafted by the Philadelphia 76ers in the second round (47th overall) of the 1999 NBA Draft.
On Tuesday, MacCulloch, along with wrestler David McKay (River East Collegiate), runner Angela Chalmers (Shilo and Brandon's Neelin), basketball player Bob Town (Churchill High School), volleyball player Garth Pischke (Silver Heights Collegiate) and the 1947-52 Daniel McIntyre Maroons football teams became the first inductees named to the Manitoba High Schools Athletic Association Hall of Fame.
MacCulloch said that winning the provincial high school championships in 1993 and '94 still rank at the top of his lifetime achievements, even ahead of making the finals of the NBA twice.
"The highlight of my career in terms of total elation, and just the pure highest joy I think it is, because it is high school, and it is not about money. Everyone is playing together with the same goal.
"It was such an unbelievable feeling, and I have been trying to recapture that at every level. Maybe if I had won the NBA championship instead of losing two, I would have felt that again, but winning the provincial championship is something I will never, ever forget. I still think about how amazing that was."
Pischke cracked the national volleyball team in his Grade 12 year at Silver Heights Collegiate. "I had no idea what was going on," he recalled. "Things were happening so fast. All of a sudden here I am playing with these guys. I guess they saw something that they liked, and I was almost shocked that it happened so quickly."
For Town, his induction was a humbling experience. "When you talk about guys like Garth, Todd, Angela and Dave, they are pretty amazing athletes, and these gentlemen from Daniel McIntyre. To be inducted with them is a humbling experience. It is really an honour."
Oddly enough, Town recalled a high school track event as one of his most memorable experiences. "I broke the provincial record in the mile, but unfortunately the guy who won was two seconds faster than me."
Chalmers, who lives in Australia, and McKay, were unable to attend.
MacCulloch, who toured his old school Tuesday morning, says that he never dreamed of making it to the NBA, partly because he was Canadian, but added that now, regardless of where young players grow up in the world, they have the opportunity of making it. "I had a coach tell me I had to set some goals," he recalled." I said 'okay, my goal is to play in the Olympic games.' I thought that if everything worked out great I could play for my country, and that dream came true, but I didn't even think about making the NBA."
Does he see himself as a positive example to young people today? "If I could make it to the NBA -- not to say that everybody can -- it can be done," he said.