Together they toiled, 7-footers Rashard Griffith and Thomas Hamilton, for three seasons, with high expectations of leading King to a Class AA state basketball title.
Griffith already had won one championship, in 1990 when he was a freshman. But Griffith was a bit player then, taking a back seat to the likes of Jamie Brandon and Johnny Selvie. His goal was to win one with Hamilton at his side in the starting lineup.
And together, King's "Twin Towers" also capped their high school careers by heading the Tribune's 1993 Boys All-State Basketball Team. It is a repeat appearance for Griffith, who is on the first team for the second straight year. Hamilton, a member of last year's second team, is making his initial appearance on the first team.
Joining Griffith and Hamilton on the Tribune's first team are Thornton senior guard Michael Allen, Westinghouse senior guard Kiwane Garris and Peoria Manual senior forward Jerry Hester. Garris, Hester and Hamilton have signed to play their college basketball at the University of Illinois.
The second team is made up of a solid bunch, too, with Peoria Central senior center Beau Smith, Springfield junior forward Tyron Lee, St. Francis de Sales senior forward Malik Dixon, Proviso East senior guard Kenny Davis and Rockford Boylan junior guard Lee Lampley.
Mt. Carmel junior center Antoine Walker, senior forward Derek Grimm of Downstate Morton, Edwardsville senior forward Andy Thompson, Cairo junior forward Tyrone Nesby and Hubbard senior guard Reggie Rose make up the third team.
In the three seasons Griffith and Hamilton played together, King lost just four games. But two of those losses came in the Public League playoffs-two years ago in the semifinals against Marshall and last season in the championship game against Westinghouse.
So the duo came into this season dead-set on leading King to the Class AA title. Nothing less would do. King went undefeated, with the Wisconsin-bound Griffith averaging 22 points, 14 rebounds and seven blocked shots and Hamilton adding an average of 18 points, 12 rebounds and four blocked shots.
"They kept hearing me say that seniors are supposed to win the whole thing," said King coach Landon Cox. "They said they were going to win it, and I told them I was from Missouri: You have to show me."
That they did, first with convincing victories over Proviso East and Danville in the Elite Eight. Then they helped the Jaguars pull off a 32-2 fourth quarter to complete a 79-42 victory over Rockford Guilford in the title game.
"They showed me," Cox said. "The proof is in the pudding. The bottom line is they won the state championship and won it convincingly."
Peoria Manual's 6-foot-6-inch Hester led his team to a 23-6 record (two of the losses were to King), shooting 54.9 percent from the field while averaging 21.3 points and 8.5 rebounds a game.
Westinghouse coach Roy Condotti believes the 6-1 Garris also will make an immediate impact at Illinois.
"Certainly at his position, he can," Condotti said of Garris. "He's always been able to handle pressure, but I'm sure that going down there, he doesn't have to carry the whole load, which should help him."
In his three seasons as a starter, Garris led Westinghouse to three straight appearances in the Public League title game, including last year's upset victory over King and a third-place finish in the Class AA tournament.
As a senior, Garris averaged 22 points, five rebounds and six assists while shooting 51 percent from the field.
One of the state's most prolific scorers, Allen almost singlehandedly led Thornton to an appearance in the Hinsdale Central supersectional, where the Wildcats fell to Proviso East.
Allen had many memorable games in '92-'93, including 50 points against Champaign Centennial early in the season and a 41-point performance in Thornton's 78-76 victory over Mt. Carmel to win the Thornridge sectional.