Written by Corbett Smith
Corbett Smith: Kimball is new measuring stick of area boys basketball success
Portraits line the walls of the entrance of Sprague Field House, with photographs of some of Dallas’ best athletes — Chris Bosh, Larry Johnson and Calvin Murphy, to name a few — and teams. Kimball’s boys basketball team has earned its place on those walls, winners of the last two Class 4A state titles.
“I think we are the measuring stick,” Kimball coach Royce “Snoop” Johnson said. “I think people look at us and say, ‘If we can play with Kimball, we can play with anybody.’”
Last season — with a largely revamped roster, including Irving transfer Keith Frazier — Kimball upset favorite Houston Yates in the state final.
“Our coaches nailed it in our heads that we were going to play hard, regardless, and that we were going to win state,” Frazier said. “It felt good — my first one. It was team effort.”
Frazier and junior forward D’Angelo Allen are the only key players returning from last year’s team; seniors Trenton Brinkley, Jordon Adams and Gabriel Lilly will get their chances in starting roles.
“Basically, when the ball comes your way, we feel like you’re ready,” Johnson said. “You’ve been practicing against the state champs for the last couple of years.”
No 4A program has managed to keep three-straight Class 4A titles on the books since Beaumont Hebert (1980-82). South Oak Cliff won four straight from 2005-08 but was stripped of its first two titles for altering grades of some of its players.
Just like South Oak Cliff gained scrutiny during its run, so has Kimball.
Johnson’s program has been a focus of a seven-month internal investigation by Dallas ISD, looking into recruiting allegations — including Frazier’s transfer.
The Office of Professional Responsibility has completed a report on its investigation, but district administration — more specifically, new superintendent Mike Miles — has yet to act on its findings.
Johnson, who said he was interviewed four times during the investigation, said that external distractions are his biggest concern heading into this season.
“So far, so good,” Johnson said. “Kids have been doing a great job. I told them from the start that everything is going to be fine, but we are going to have to ride with it.”
Follow Corbett Smith on Twitter at @corbettsmithDMN