If there's a "Most Wanted" list of American Basketball Players, it's this list of players who seem to have disappeared from the public eye. Can you find them?
If you've read the list of American Basketball League players from the 1996-97 season, you'll find the saddest of notations - "current location unknown". At least on the internet, there is no trace of the current whereabouts of the player and the only way the player can be found will probably be through boots on the ground.
My inspiration for this little list was Lee Allen, the Baseball Hall of Fame's resident historian for several years. As Alan Schwarz writes in the book The Numbers Game:
Allen had kept track of every major league baseball player ever - height, weight, birth and death dates, post-playing occupations, and so on -- in neat, loose leaf notebooks. And not just the stars. The more obscure the player, the better.
Allen cared more about the players than the statistics, and often made quests of "missing" players. But any good stat-head hates gaps in the record, too. And this list of players is a toughie - I can't seem to find out what these players are doing today. Can you?
1. Andrea Nagy. If you believe Wikipedia, Nagy was born in Budapest, Hungary and attended Florida International University from 1991 to 1995, where she finished with 1,136 assists. She played for a different ABL team every season: Seattle in 1996-97, Long Beach in 1997-98, and Philadelphia in 1998 when it ran out of gas.
Nagy would play for three teams in the WNBA: Washington from 1999-2000, New York in 2001 and Sacramento in 2002. She retired in 2003 and that's where she seems to fall off the face of the earth.
Andrea Nagy appears to be a fairly common name in Hungary, so if she went back to Hungary it's going to be very difficult to find her. On the other hand, some person out there with Eurobasket connections might know where Andrea Nagy is right now.
2. Cherilyn Morris: Morris played four games with the Colorado Xplosion in 1996-97. She graduated from Southern Nazarene in 1995, an NAIA University and was a two-time NAIA Player of the Year. Virtually nothing can be found on the internet aside from a handful of mentions. She will definitely be very hard to locate.
(UPDATE: Robin Silva sent an e-mail locating Cherilyn Morris at Plano East Senior HS in Plano, Texas. Morris is currently an assistant basketball coach there. Great job, Robin, and many thanks!)
3. Debra Williams: Williams played two games with the Seattle Reign in 1996-97 and 13 games with the Portland Power in the aborted 1998-99 season. She would also play 10 games for the Charlotte Sting in the inaugural 1997 WNBA season. She was a graduate of Louisiana Tech in 1996. After her final 1998 partial season she seems to have fallen off the face of the earth.
4. Jamillah Lang: Lang played 29 games for the San Jose Lasers in the 1996-97 season. She graduated from the University of Colorado in 1994. There is a great article from the San Francisco Chronicle about her work as a youth counselor; I would not be surprised if she was a practicing psychologist or sociologist. She might have been honored in a banquet in Kansas City in 2005, but no further information is available.
5. Kimberly Wood: A graduate of Wisconsin-Green Bay, Kimberly Wood played a full season for the 1996-97 San Jose Lasers. She was inducted into the UWGB Hall of Fame as Kimberly Wood Jianis in 2002-03 but there is nothing else known of her.
6. La'Shawn Brown: Brown played 18 games for the Columbus Quest in the 1996-97 season. She would go on to play 22 games for the Washington Mystics in their inaugural season. Her cousin Dionne Brown played basketball for Texas Tech in the 2000-02 seasons and then played at least one season for Baylor in 2002-03. If someone finds Dionne Brown, they might find La'Shawn as well.
(UPDATE: Robin Silva sent an e-mail tracking La'Shawn Brown - now La'Shawn Brown-Bradley - to the Cleveland Crush of the Women's Blue Chip Basketball League, where she played in 2010. Another ABL player located, and once again Robin Silva gets the find!)
7. Leslie Morgan: Morgan played 16 games for the Richmond Rage in the 1996-97 season. Morgan graduated from Francis Marion in 1992. Aside from a few articles about her career at Francis Marion, there is really nothing known about her. She'll be tough to find.
8. Niesa Johnson: Niesa Johnson was a starter for the Atlanta Glory in the 1996-97 season. She moved on to the Long Beach Stingrays in 1997-98 playing in 44 games, and then played for the Seattle Reign in 1998 until the league collapsed. She would move to the WNBA in 1999 and play two seasons for the Charlotte Sting.
Johnson graduated from the University of Alabama in 1995. She was in training camp with the Houston Comets in 2002, but then disappears. She was named to the Southeastern Conference 25th Anniversary Team of greats in 2006. There is a Niesa Johnson on LinkedIn who might fit the bill; if anyone out there has a premium account they might want to send her some e-mail.
9. Shanda Berry: Berry played for the New England Blizzard from 1996 to 1998, two full seasons. She graduated from the University of Iowa in 1989.
The Los Angeles Times has an article on her from 1998 on being an off-season police officer in Wheaton, Maryland. There was another article from the Free Lance-Star about her being an officer in Montgomery County, MD in 1997. Perhaps she is still involved in police work. There is an article about an Officer Shanda Berry on the Montgomery County Police Force from 2012, but the officer is bent over and we really can't tell if this is the same person. I wonder if the Montgomery County Police Force has an e-mail address.
(UPDATE: Queenie found Officer Shanda Berry in a video used during the New York Liberty's night of honoring law enforcement. So one more down, and 9 to go!)
10. Shelley Sandie: Born in Australia, Sandie played for the San Jose Lasers from 1996 to 1998. She won a silver medal for Australia in 1996 and a bronze medal in 2000. "Gorms" might be better known as Shelley Ann Gorman-Sandie. If you have contacts in Australian basketball (or know Lauren Jackson), maybe you'd want to ask someone what Shelley Sandie is doing today.
11. Stacey Ford: Ford played 40 games for the Portland Power during the 1996-97 season, then moved to Columbus for the 1997-98 season and played the "collapse" portion of the 1998-99 season in Columbus as well. She would show up again in the WNBA, but only played one game for the New York Liberty in 2001 and five games for Sacramento in 2002.
Ford graduated from Georgia in 1991. Is this Stacey Ford? It's hard to say. Unfortunately, it's a very common name and Ford might be very hard to find.
12. Tanja Kostic: Kostic played 36 games with the Portland Power in the 1996-97 season. She would play five games with Cleveland in the 1998 WNBA season, and then five games with Miami in the 2000 season.
Swedish born but of Serbian origin, she graduated from Oregon State in 1996. She was inducted into the Oregon State Sports Hall of Fame in 2005, but we don't know if she showed up at the induction ceremony. Supposedly, she played pro ball overseas but we don't know when her career ended. Where are you, Tanja Kostic?