As the highly-touted players from such places as Blacksburg, Lynchburg, Arlington and Woodbridge congregated for practice prior to the 1990 Virginia High School Coaches Association All-Star boys basketball game, they didn’t know much about the 6-foot-5 country kid from a part of the state they had never been to and from a program they’d never heard of.
“Ervinton High School? Where the heck is that?” members of the West squad asked Trazel Silvers.
“They couldn’t believe it when I told them there were about 300 students in our entire school,” Silvers said. “A lot of the guys were saying how they had that many kids in their senior class. Some of them figured the reason I scored a lot of points was because I was playing against all those small schools.”
Firing back amid the good-natured trash talk and innocent ribbing, Silvers made a bold prediction.
"I said ‘When this game starts, y’all might not know where Ervinton is. But all of you will know where it is by the end of the game,’ “ he recalled with a laugh 30 years later.
It turned out that the player from the smallest school made the biggest plays in the VHSCA event.
Silvers was golden as he went for 12 points, six rebounds and four blocks to earn MVP honors in the West’s 92-82 win over the East.
“ I never went into a game wanting to win an award, I just wanted to win the game,” Silvers said. “I’m not going to lie to you though, that game had a little different feel. I was around all these players and heard what all they had done. I wanted to come out and play well. I wanted that award.”
That he received such an accolade didn’t come as a surprise to folks back in Southwest Virginia.
Silvers averaged 29.7 points per game during his senior season with the Ervinton Rebels in earning Bristol Herald Courier Southwest Virginia player of the year honors. He once scored 60 points in a game against Twin Springs.
Those achievements put him in elite company come July in Lynchburg.
The East roster featured University of Virginia signee Corey Stewart of Bethel and VHSL Group AA state player of the year Reggie Waddy from Robert E. Lee of Staunton.
“ I think the East squad was a double-digit favorite to beat us in that game,” Silvers said. “They had a lot of guys going to big Division I schools. I remember one of our coaches [Husky Hall of Martinsville] came in and I think he was using reverse psychology on us. He said, ‘Let’s go out there and try to keep it close and we want to make it respectable.’ We were setting there like, ‘What?’ I told Tim Pennix [from E.C. Glass], ‘I don’t know about you man, but I want to win this game.’ Tim said, ‘We can do it.’ “
George Wythe’s Jamie Lee, future Virginia Tech guard Jay Purcell from Blacksburg and current University of Connecticut assistant coach Kenya Hunter of Wakefield joined Silvers on the West squad.
Hunter scored 14 points, Purcell put in 13 points and Silvers did it all.
“ He was a super surprise all week,” John Shotwell (James River) of the West coaching staff told the Bristol Herald Courier’s Allen Gregory following the game. “He played hard in practice and the guys that play hard in practice play hard in games. That was a special kid. There are not many times a Single-A player can come in here and dominate like that.”
However, it wasn’t a completely flawless performance.
“ The only bad part about that game is I had a wide-open dunk and missed it,” Silvers said. “I blamed our coaches and said they ran us so much leading up to the game that my legs were feeling like rubber. I went to plant and go up to dunk and my legs just gave out and I ended up missing the dunk. I was like, ‘You’ve got to be kidding me.’ “
East Tennessee State University coach Alan LeForce was on hand to watch his prized recruit and liked what he saw. The showing gave Silvers some confidence heading into the world of NCAA Division I hoops.
“ ETSU had already signed me,” Silvers said. “But I wanted them to know how I was capable of playing.”
Eight months after the VHSCA All-Star Game, Silvers was playing in a first-round NCAA tournament game against the Iowa Hawkeyes at the Metrodome in Minneapolis.
He scored 1,257 career points at ETSU and played for more than a decade professionally, including a three-year stint with the Harlem Globetrotters. His alma mater, Ervinton, closed its doors in 2012.
Basketball took Trazel Silvers all over the world, but it was 30 years ago – the anniversary of the game was Thursday – the standout from Southwest Virginia made sure those 3,200 spectators at an event in Lynchburg learned about Ervinton.
“ After the game, my teammates were saying you’ve got this MVP award and I was still on the fence about it, because it wasn’t like I had a big statistical game,” Silvers said. “At the end of the day, all those guys on the West team were good guys and I got their respect.”
STAR OF STARS
This is the fifth story in an eight-part series on local athletes who had memorable performances in Virginia High School Coaches Association All-Star Games. Coming Saturday: Mike Osborne, J.J. Kelly, Football (1982)
VHSCA HOOPS HISTORY
A game-by-game look at the history of the Virginia High School Coaches Association All-Star boys basketball games:
1972 (Salem): West 100, East 92
Coeburn’s David Mitchell scored 12 points and hit two crucial free throws as the West won the inaugural matchup attended by 4,253 fans.
1973 (Salem): West 88, East 86
Mark Newlen (Robert E. Lee of Staunton) scored 20 points as the West erased a 14-point second-half deficit.
1974 (Salem): West 88, East 83
Dave Koesters (West Springfield) had a clutch bucket and finished with 12 points for the West, which had Burrell Paye (Powell Valley) on the coaching staff. Jerry Myers (Powell Valley) and Randy Poole (Castlewood) each scored two points in the win.
1975 (Salem): East 79, West 54
Despite 11 points and seven assists from Ron Edwards (Graham), the West lost. Otis Fulton (Thomas Jefferson-Richmond) had an 18-point, 16-rebound masterpiece to lead the winning side.
1976 (Salem): East 96, West 90
Maggie Walker’s James Harrison scored 19 points for the East in a high-scoring affair. East Tennessee State University signees Scott Place of Patrick Henry-Roanoke (18 points, 18 rebounds) and Atlee Hammaker of Mount Vernon (12 points) led the West. Hammaker had a lengthy career in Major League Baseball.
1977 (Richmond): East 93, West 87
Mike Perry of Group AAA state champion Thomas Jefferson-Richmond went for 20 points as the East prevailed. Jim Goforth (J.J. Kelly) was a West coach, while Eric Fugate (Gate City) scored two points in the loss.
1978 (Richmond): West 121, East 104
The duo of Patrick Henry-Roanoke’s Ricky Wright (23 points) and Albemarle’s Reggie Steppe (18 points) led the way for the winners. Vernon “Sam” Alston (Ferguson) of the East pumped in 29 points.
1979 (Richmond): East 70, West 67
Future NBA standouts Ralph Sampson (Harrisonburg) and Mark West (Petersburg) each scored 11 points to key the East’s win in front of 7,500 spectators. David Poe (Pennington) and Marc Quesenberry (Galax) each scored two points in the loss.
1980 (Richmond): East 107, West 91
Menchville’s David Pope put in 18 points as the East triumphed. Johnny Poole (Castlewood) finished with four points, two assists and two steals for the West, while Pat Sharp (Carroll County) contributed 10 points and five rebounds.
1981 (Blacksburg): West 96, East 83
Martinsville’s Gary Dalton (16 points) and Chilhowie’s Gregg Belcher (10 points) starred in the win.
1982 (Blacksburg): East 101, West 90
Marion’s Clarence Hanley had 14 points for the West and blocked a shot by Ronnie Wade (Marshall-Walker), his future teammate at Old Dominion University. Tim Hale (Honaker) added four points for the West, while Mike Brown (Hopewell) paced the East with 21 points.
1983 (Charlottesville): East 89, West 57
Greg Williams (Jefferson-Huguenot) led the way for the winners with 18 points. Rich Valley’s P.J. Catron hauled down five rebounds for the West.
1984 (Charlottesville): East 75, West 62
Brunswick’s John Thompson tossed in 21 points as the East overpowered the West. David Robinette (Ervinton) had four points and two steals in the loss.
1985 (Lynchburg): East 98, West 91
Future Atlantic Coast Conference rivals Richard Morgan of Salem (West) and Kevin Madden of R.E. Lee-Staunton (East) each scored 20 points. Morgan later played at the University of Virginia and Madden starred at North Carolina. The West received six points from Jonesville’s Winston Terry, while George Wythe teammates Maurice Johnson and Charles “June Bug” Penn scored four points apiece.
1986 (Lynchburg): East 76, West 73
Kempsville’s J.R. Reid dominated to the tune of 26 points, 10 rebounds and three blocks in earning MVP honors for the East. Pound’s Stacy Bloomer (four points, three rebounds) and Rich Valley’s Dale Jackson (two points) represented Southwest Virginia on the West squad.
1987 (Lynchburg): East 79, West 62
East MVP Todd Dunnings (R.E. Lee-Staunton) had 15 points and five rebounds to highlight his team’s win. Current Virginia Tech women’s hoops coach Kenny Brooks (Waynesboro) played for the East, while Tommy Musick (Gate City) scored nine points for the West.
1988 (Lynchburg): East 106, West 81
Brunswick’s Bryant Stith went for 18 points, 10 rebounds, three assists and three blocks to key the East’s win.
1989 (Lynchburg): West 89, East 74
Behind a 21-point, 10-rebound showing from Kenny Scroggins (Gar-Field), the West won. Petie Ball (Richlands) contributed three points and Robert Spears (Powell Valley) had two points in the win.
1990 (Lynchburg): West 92, East 82
Trazel Silvers of Ervinton scored a dozen points and took MVP honors in the win.
1991 (Lynchburg): East 75, West 68
Poquoson’s Greg Krueger scored 15 points to pace the East.
1992 (Lynchburg): East 110, West 87
Kecoughtan’s Faisal Abraham (18 points, 15 rebounds) and Matoaca’s Harold Deane (15 points) starred for the East. Virginia High’s Robbie Howard scored nine points for the West.
1993 (Hampton): East 106, West 68
Two years before he would become the No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft, Maury’s Joe Smith scored 10 points in the East’s win. Damon Bacote (Hampton) had 28 points for the victors, while Adrian “Flipper” Sensabaugh (Virginia High) scored four points for the West.
1994 (Hampton): East 102, West 88
Antwain Smith (Ferguson) came off the bench to score 21 points and spark the East’s win.
1995 (Hampton): East 93, West 80
Shawn Hobson (Granby) and Percy White (William Monroe) scored 14 points apiece for the winners.
1996 (Hampton): East 101, West 93
Marseilles Brown (Kecoughtan) scored 28 points for the East, while future NFL star Plaxico Burress (Green Run) scored four points for the winning team. Mike Ratliff (Council) scored two points for the West.
1997 (Hampton): East 122, West 105
The East won, but the Southwest Virginia contingent played well in defeat. Stacy Ervin (Twin Springs) earned West MVP honors with 24 points, while Josh Shoemaker (Gate City) had a 15-point, nine-rebound performance and Pasquanel Bailey (Garden) finished with six points, two rebounds and two assists.
1998 (Hampton): East 99, West 89
Antwan Walton (Greensville County) was the MVP for the East, while Travis Cantrell (Floyd County) scored 22 points to earn top honor for the West. Haysi’s Brett Compton had four points in the loss.
1999 (Hampton): East 121, West 110
Petersburg’s Delvin Anderson scored 22 points to lead the way for the East. Chris Peters (Gate City) and Zack Moore (Pound) scored 10 points apiece for the West.
2000 (Hampton): East 113, West 80
The West MVP was Tony McDonald from Gate City as he scored 15 points, shooting 5-for-5 from the field and going 5-for-6 from the free throw line. New Kent’s Jamion Christian (six points, four assists, two steals) and Bruton’s Bryan Randall (seven points) were among the contributors for the East.
2001 (Hampton): East 85, West 76
Elton Brown of Warwick went for 21 points, six rebounds and two blocks to lead the East. Ryan Rasnake (Council) had two steals, one assist and one rebound for the West.
2002 (Hampton): East 95, West 82
Future NBA talent was on display – Chris Copeland (Hermitage) had 19 points for the East, while J.J. Redick (Cave Spring) scored seven points for the West. Council center Brad Nuckles finished with six points, seven rebounds, three blocks and two steals for the West.
2003 (Hampton): West 106, East 99
The Southwest Virginia trio of George Wythe’s Kevin Forrester (13 points), Rural Retreat’s Trampus Stamper (six points) and Lee High’s Hansel Newman (four points) helped the West earn its first win since 1990.
2004 (Hampton): East 103, West 93
Future NBA sharpshooter Reggie Williams (Prince George) pumped in 32 points for the winning squad. Lee High’s Josh Terry scored six points for the West, becoming a second-generation VHSCA participant as his father, Winston Terry, played in the 1985 event.
2005 (Hampton): East 90, West 85
Woodside’s Calvin Baker shined in the spotlight with 21 points for the East. The West received six points from Abingdon’s Michael Scorsome.
2006 (Hampton): East 93, West 81
Maryland recruit Eric Hayes (Potomac) earned MVP honors for the West in a losing cause, finishing with 18 points.
2007 (Hampton): East 103, West 99
Booker T. Washington’s Myles Holley poured in 25 points for the East. Adam Hood (Rye Cove) and Mark Dockery (Twin Springs) scored two points apiece for the West as NBA legend Allen Iverson was among the spectators.
2008 (Hampton): West 92, East 90
Tennis Simon (George Wythe) scored 12 points in the win for the West. Taking home MVP honors for the West was G.W. Danville’s Nick Barbour, who pumped in 25 points.
2009 (Hampton): East 110, West 94
Colonial Beach’s T.T. Carey scored 20 points for the victorious East squad. The West received five points from Tihlee Anderson of Gate City.
2010 (Hampton): East 98, West 73
Twin Valley’s Josh Smith earned MVP honors for the West with 15 points and 14 rebounds. Ruben Rasnick (Castlewood) had two points and nine rebounds in the loss.
2011 (Newport News): East 84, West 81
J.J. Kelly’s Aaron Clark had six points in the West’s loss.
2012 (Newport News): East 102, West 84
Zach Johnson (King’s Fork) led the East to the win with 20 points. Gate City’s Austen Arnold scored five points for the West, while Hurley’s Tyler Cooper and Austin Cooper each scored three points.
2013 (Newport News): East 84, West 72
Union’s Tyler Vernon (14 points) and Abingdon’s Mack Owens (12 points) played well in representing Southwest Virginia on the West roster.
2014 (Lynchburg): East 119, West 110
Kadeem Wright (Thomas Jefferson-Richmond) scored 24 points to lead the East. Abingdon’s Josh Hess scored three points for the losing side, which received 29 points from Floyd County’s Caleb Tanner.
2015 (Lynchburg): West 107, East 100
Graham’s Colby Hill contributed nine points to the West’s win.
2016 (Lynchburg): East 97, West 88
The game was shifted from July to March for the first time and Hanover’s Alan Dabney starred for the East with 24 points. Gate City’s John-Reed Barnes scored five points for the West.
2017 (Wise): West 93, East 90
Luke Phillips of Richlands scored nine points and hit clutch free throws to seal the win.
2018 (Wise): Blue 111, Red 110
Deshawn Ridley of Huguenot scored 30 points in the Blue team’s win as the East-West format was ditched. Sharing Red team MVP honors were Eastside’s Luke Lawson (21 points) and Gate City’s Mac McClung (19 points).
2019 (Wise): Blue 131, Red 124
Graham’s Drew Baker scored 27 points as his team prevailed in double overtime. Baker earned co-MVP honors, sharing the honor with East Rockingham’s Dalton Jefferson. Dylan Catron (Chilhowie) added 14 points, Cameron Allen (Graham) put in a dozen points and Race Moir (Richlands) scored six points for the winners. Moir had scored a touchdown in the VHSCA All-Star football game in December.
2020 (Wise): Canceled
The event was scheduled for March 21, but was not held due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
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