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Meridian area full of pro athletes

By Staff
Dec. 19, 2001
Writing words of wisdom on a Wednesday while wondering whatever happened to Ralph Sampson …
It doesn't take long to figure out that the Meridian area is full of athletic talent.
Just take out a pencil and begin writing down the names of the current and former pro athletes and you can wind up with nothing but a nub in your hands before you are through.
I'm not crazy enough to try and name them all, because I can't. But I would be interested in readers giving me a call at 693-1551, ext. 3234 or dropping me an e-mail at to help me complete my list. If you call and I'm not in, please leave the information and your name and number on the voice mail.
I am also interested in gathering the names of former high school players in the area who are now playing junior college or college sports. If we can get a good, solid compilation of these names then it will make it easier on us to keep up with them and let you know where they are and how they are doing.
Among the pro athletes I know of who are still making a living playing the games they love are Jay Powell of the Texas Rangers, Scott Sullivan of the Cincinnati Reds, Jeff Branson of the Los Angeles Dodgers, Jason Smith of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, Dexter McCleon of the St. Louis Rams, Kenny Smith and Fred McAfee of the New Orleans Saints, Kenyatta Walker of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Kendrick Office of the Buffalo Bills and Van Chancellor of the Houston Comets.
I know there are more, so just remind me of where they are.
I'm also very curious as to where longtime NBA veteran Derrick McKey is these days. The last I was able to find out was that after being released by the Indiana Pacers he was close to signing a deal with several other clubs, but it doesn't look like anything has panned out.
The list of college players is too long to get into in this column, but within a few weeks I will try to run a list, so fans and family members who read the Star can let us know who we are missing. But don't wait until then, go ahead and call now.
Winning goalie has ties to state
To followers of college soccer, North Carolina's 2-0 win over Indiana on Sunday for the NCAA Division I championship was a great story.
The Tar Heels were not a college power just a couple years of ago, but turned things around to knock off the Hoosiers, a perennial NCAA power.
But there was also a local sort of angle to the story.
North Carolina goalie Michael Ueltschey, who made several key stops and deflections in the title game, played his high school soccer at Jackson Academy.
Thanks to the gentlemen and reader of The Meridian Star who called earlier in the week to remind me of the connection. I didn't get your name, but wish you would call back so we can talks some more.
I watched a portion of the game on Sunday and was impressed by UNC's play.
Austin Bishop is regional sports director of the East Mississippi Group and oversees the sports operations of four newspapers, including The Meridian Star. You can e-mail him at