Thursday, December 18, 2008

1990s Flashback


I know he's pretty much a punchline these days (more on that later), but for one glorious season, Sam Okey was a stud. No, a phenom.

Okey was practically a household name in Wisconsin after leading tiny Cassville to 4 straight title appearances and was routinely mentioned as "The Best Wisconsin HS player ever." In your face, Joe Wolf! And no, he wasn't just some big kid rolling 130 pound sophomores in a two-bit high school conference. He was a McD All-American and named MVP of some fancy Las Vegas AAU tourny over guys like Kevin Garnett and Tractor Trailer.

Rarely does a player live up to the hype, but Okey did his Freshman year (1995-96). First player in Big-11 history to lead their team in Points, Rebounds, Assist, and blocks. As a Frosh?

The exact details are fuzzy, but Bucky played in one of the big invites to start the year (Maui, Great Alaska...one of those) that was loaded with future NBAers (Kerry Kittles was one, for sure). My friend's dad was a scout for the Bucks at the time, attended, and said "Okey was the best pro prospect out there."

Then, it all went south. He couldn't co-exist with new Coach Dick Bennett's style of game, got a bunch of ink, reportedly sat in Madison bars burning rockets for hours on end, got an underage drinking ticket in a UW Whitewater bar, his play suffered, opposing fans chanted "Smokey, Okey," transferred to Iowa, broke his wrist, hellooooo CBA, and last I heard was playing rec leagues in Middleton. It seems everybody has an Okey story.

Too bad. He was a really, really skilled basketball player.

And the from the powers of Google, I bring you this.

32 comments:

woziszeus said...

God I love Cassville.

Charlie Marlow said...

If I'm picking favorite Grant county towns, I think I'm going Dickeyville.

lofty said...

muscoda...hands down

Anonymous said...

I played at KEVA in Middleton about 5 years ago. We were standing around waiting for our game to start and Okey walks in. Someone goes "Hey Sam, what's up?" Okey goes "nothin, just smokin a lot of week." Loud enough for the whole gym to hear.

Anonymous said...

He averaged 5 dunks a game senior year in high school, wow. Didn't anyone in that conference know how to put a guy on his back. Now I will erase all knowledge of this guy from my mind.

woziszeus said...

If anybody else has any Sam Okey stories please...let this comment board be your place to relive the memory...

Anonymous said...

How old is that website? It looks like it was put up in 1995.

train said...

This one goes back a good 15 years ago. C-ville was playing their section final up in LaX and due to buzz surrounding Okey the game was moved to the Mitchell Hall Fieldhouse- most likely from Logan or Central or something. We lived within a PW from Mitchell and made a day out of the whole deal. The typical couches out on the yard type deal. After a few cases of Keystone one the guys started mouthing off to the Cassville fans walking by that Okey was a sellout (he was rumored to be going to North Carolina) and he was overrated and blah blah...His aunts' posse apparently had enough and came over to give us a talking to. Fists started flying and all the good stuff...cops being threatened to be called. 10 hicks dressed in green against 10 drunk guys. All still a little bit fuzzy. It was good times.

Goldy said...

I remember being thrilled when Okey said he was going to Wisconsin. I thought it would be great to have a superstar basketball player to watch my 4 years there.

My first year in grad school at Iowa I lived in an apartment across the hall from former Iowa Hawkeye "great" J.R. Koch. Okey would stop by every now and then and I would see him in the hallway. At this time he was moving furniture in North Liberty, Iowa and playing in a summer rec league. I always wanted to tell him what a waste of talent he was, but figured he would pummel me into next week.

I'm also going to go with Dickeyville. My Pontiac Grand Am with 120,000 miles died in the hills between Platteville and Dickeyville.

Goldy said...

Looking at some of those photos on that web site, two things strike me.
1. Games at the Fieldhouse were so much more fun than games at the KC.
2. I would have no problem if the Badgers were to wear those jerseys again.

I also like that one of the photos has a cameo from Osita Nwachuku. Unfortunately, none included Booker Coleman.

Anonymous said...

The fieldhouse was sweet. Who could forget the epic Anthony Peiper/Okey showdown for the state title in about 92?

Rex jaybels said...

I had a shot blocked into the stands and was dunked on by Okey in an aau game. In the same game he did a 360 dunk. The game was at Wisconsin lutheran. Thanks for the memories, smokey.

Charlie Marlow said...

So that's actually two votes for Dickeyville, which I think is a majority.

Anonymous said...

There was one story that i was told from my health teacher at Belmont, which is in Cassvilles conference, that when my health teacher was coaching track around Sam Okeys time. They had a track meet at cassville and the coaches had to sign up for events in the gym and my teacher said Dean Smith, Former NC Tar Heel Coach was watching Okey shoot around and taking notes on him. Sam Okey was a man among children in our conference. Our conference has never seen that kind of talent. Ever. Except for him.

Anonymous said...

you guyS all talk shit about him.. but you dont even know him.. he is one of the best high school players of wisconsin.. only all-american.. we all make bad decisions.. i wish you guys could see him after read some of these comments.. he is fucking huge..not fat

Anonymous said...

my god this is awesome, what a blast from the past. I grew up in Madison and I remember the HUGE hype about how Sam Okey was going to be the next Karl Malone straight out of Western Wisconsin. Then he came to UW, he was actually good, wow this is going to be the best thing ever... and then it just instantly fell apart. Pretty awesome that he still plays in local rec leagues after crushing all-americans as a teenager.

I was talking with a friend today and he made a comment about how there is no talent in WI HS hoops and then I had this distant memory that there was once a great prospect who we were all excited about... and I found this page. Thank you sir for a stroll down memory lane.

Anonymous said...

World B. Free... I remember playing against mr. Sam Okey in a summer league a.a.u tourny he was running with D. Flonoral and an a.au dream team.... Sam okey is a beast... I pumped in 17 points and 9 boards... We lost,I played against him... Straight beast... For people that hated on him, put on your life jackets, because he was a straight shark out there... Fellow 95 grad... Former uw-dubb division 3 player... and a public high school teacher for four years, people ask me who was the best you played against... I say, knot anyone it is a team game, and Mr.Sam Okey had a place on any team... And to be a main spoke in a wheel of a team... Tell people to get lifted...

Andrew said...

Watching the 96-97 Badgers beating the No. 2 Minnesota Gophers on the Big 10+ Network...blast from the past. Okey/Grant/Calderwood/Fieldhouse FTW! Also brought back memories of Rashard Griffin (UW's other big 90s recruit) being chauffeured around campus in a bass-thumping SUV (all quasi-legal somehow). Somehow never ran into Okey on campus (I was gone after fall of 96)...bet he would driven a Firebird.

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Anonymous said...

A lot of people might not be aware of this, but in late 90´s Okey was trying out for a Finnish pro basketball team. He was still very, VERY stong physically, an he surprised a lot of people with his excellent ball handling skills and basketball IQ. I thouhgt he was an unbelieveably talented player, but his head just was not right. After being told he was cut from the team, he went back to his living quarters and absolytely trashed the place, tearing the wall papers an urinating (!!) on the floor.

Later on i found out he had been an All American and all that, and it did not surprise me at all.

I hope all the best for him!

Anonymous said...

I'm from cassville grew up idolizing this guy. He was simply amazing...I was in 5th grade when he graduated i have never seen anyone with the talent he has. I remember watching him in the gym lighting the gym up with his dunks. As the whole gym would go nuts. It makes me sick the choices he made but we all make mistakes but that's life. But least I still have sam okey hs basketball cards that were made and signed by him to remember his talent

Anonymous said...

He was the biggest waste of talent ever. All I ever heard was that he was so great. Shouldn't a great player be able to adapt to a new situation? Dick Bennett was and still is the man.

Andrew Mertig said...

I just saw him last week in Scofield.

Anonymous said...

He lives there i believe in schofield i heard hes a construction company supervisor or something i went to cassville n was in 5th grade when he graduated you'll never see talent like him again makes me sick in his choices but we all mess up. Anyone talking smack well w.e. so be it. I'll never talk smack about okey

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