03.13.19 | News
Hoops History: The first McDonald’s All-American – Stacey Poole Sr.
The Culligan City of Palms Classic has its fingerprints all over the McDonald’s All American Boys Game, as usual. The nation’s No. 1 high school basketball tournament placed 10 alumni in this year’s McDonald’s game, set for March 27, and a record 11 in last year’s, when Nassir Little became the ninth player who appeared in the City of Palms to win the McDonald’s MVP.
Over the years, more than 150 City of Palms players have also been McDonald’s players. But it all started with one.
Stacey Poole Sr. was a bouncy 6-foot-6, 200-pound swingman who captured the 1986 City of Palms MVP award with Jacksonville Forrest. By the spring of 1988, he was a Parade magazine second-team All-American and highly touted recruit who earned selection to a McDonald’s game that included future legends Christian Laettner, Alonzo Mourning and Shawn Kemp.
Poole didn’t make much noise in that game, and he went down as one of only four out of 25 players on the McDonald’s rosters that year never to play in the NBA. But it was nonetheless a key turning point. With the exception of the 1989 McDonald’s game, the City of Palms has been represented in every one of them since.
And Poole went on to play a key role in the rebuilding of the Florida Gators, who went from scandal-plagued to the cusp of the Final Four during his time with the team. He was the program’s third all-time leading scorer when he left and still ranks No. 7 on that list.
The pro basketball world was not without interest. In 1993, he was the first overall draft pick in the Continental Basketball Association, which then served as the NBA’s primary minor league. And the next fall, he was on the preseason roster for the Orlando Magic.
He may well have stuck around that team a lot longer if he hadn’t been slowed by two torn Achilles tendons and a torn ACL during his career, but he still left an important basketball legacy. Part of that involves his son, who also played in the Culligan City of Palms Classic. John Calipari recruited Stacey Poole Jr. to Kentucky, where he spent a year before transferring to Georgia Tech.
Neither son nor father is the sort of household name that a litany of City of Palms players have become. But the name Stacey Poole still goes down in history as one of the most important in Culligan City of Palms Classic history.