By PAUL HINES
MT. VERNON —
Through the decades of Mt. Vernon’s illustrious boys basketball history, only a handful of players have seen significant playing time as freshman.
Jamar Sanders is one of them.
A few games into his freshman season he found himself starting varsity. He went on to become Mt. Vernon’s all-time scoring leading. It was a mark only surpassed by Kent Williams in the mid 90s. Sanders finished with 1,934.
He is being inducted as member of the Mt. Vernon Township High School Sports Hall of Fame as part of the Class of 2013.
“I was honored considering the basketball history, the tradition of Mt. Vernon Township High School basketball,” Sanders said.
Sanders led his team in scoring all four seasons and tallied 311 points as a freshman.
“You felt good,” Sanders said about playing as a freshman. “You knew you were doing something because other people would let you know. You go around town and people were stopping and speaking to you, talking to you, and you know at that point that you’re being watched.”
His first game was against Murphysboro.
“Coming into that game, I recall being nervous but after I settled down after I went up and down the floor a few times I just kind of settled in and started playing ball again,” Sanders said.
He added that he tried to blend in with the rest of his older teammates who were several years his elder.
“I tried to fit in as best as possible, and I recall being very cognizant of not wanting to step on their toes so to speak, not to get in their way or to have a demeanor that I was better than them.
“All I wanted to do was play ball and win.”
Sanders and the Rams piled up wins from 1988 to 1991. He scored 483 points his sophomore season, and the Rams won 24 games while claiming regional and sectional titles. The Rams’ season ended with a loss to East St. Louis Lincoln.
“It’s a bitter sweet memory,” Sanders said. “It’s fantastic playing at that level at such a young age and then being recognized into the Mt. Vernon hall of fame, that’s sweet. That’s an honor,” Sanders said. “But when you think about the losses, those are the things that are bitter.”
Sanders ended his career with a senior season that included 643 points and a regional championship. The single season point total is third best all time.
He received eight Division I offers but didn’t score high enough on his ACT and opted for junior college. During his freshman year, Sanders hurt his knee in a car accident. He eventually transferred to another college but once again was hampered by an injury. This time it was a broken wrist. After playing basketball in Europe, Sanders returned to America to finish college.
He currently lives outside Fresno, Calif. where he is a case manager for the Federal Bureau of Prisons.