Frank Burlison has written about and reported on all levels of basketball since he was 17 years old.
He’s 56 now – yes, that’s a lot of hours spent on blacktops, in gymnasiums and in arenas.
Most basketball writers and scouts can only wonder how good some of the sport’s all-time greats were as high school players.
Burlison can do a lot more than that.
The Southern California-based Burlison has scouted, evaluated and written about many of the top players produced in the five decades, including:
Raymond Lewis . . . Marques Johnson . . . Reggie Theus . . . Bill Cartwright . . . Magic Johnson . . . Isaiah Thomas . . . James Worthy . . . Dominique Wilkins . . . Patrick Ewing . . . Michael Jordan . . . Shaquille O’Neal . . . Larry Johnson . . . Jason Kidd . . . Kevin Garnett . . . Kobe Bryant . . . Dirk Nowitzki . . . LeBron James . . . Dwight Howard . . . Deron Williams . . . and Blake Griffin.
Burlison was a pioneer in the world of recruiting coverage in the pre-Internet era, when the majority of the “major” newspapers’ sports departments looked at basketball and football recruiting coverage as something to scoff at.
In 1978, he was appointed as one of the original members of the McDonald’s All-American Selection Committee. That was a year after he established the “Best in the West” for the Long Beach (CA) Press-Telegram – the rankings and profiles of the top prospects in the region’s senior class, selected, most recently in the fall of 2010, via the input of 100s of different college coaches over the years.
The July traveling team tournaments in Las Vegas – in which 1000s of players from all over the U.S. and points east, west, south and north – have become the focal point of the “evaluation circuit”.
The first one of those Burlison attended was in 1975 – when the games were held at Rancho High and there were just four teams, two from Southern California and one each from New York and Las Vegas.
Burlison often has had the opportunity to write about the exceptional high school players he watched when they moved on to the college and NBA levels.
He’s been a credentialed reporter at every Final Four since 1986 and has covered the NBA – and its draft – since the 1980s, most recently chronicling the Clippers and the stunning rookie season of Blake Griffin.
Burlison was inducted into the U.S. Basketball Writers Association Hall of Fame during the 2005 Final Four in St. Louis.
He covered the U.S.’s Bob Knight-coached and Michael Jordan-led 1984 Olympic team that rolled through the competition en route to gold in Los Angeles that summer. The team’s selection trials were held in Bloomington, Indiana that spring.
The week-long event was one of Burlison’s highlights as a reporter and basketball follower.
It featured one of the greatest collections of non-NBA basketball talent ever in one location, with the likes of Jordan, Patrick Ewing, the late Wayman Tisdale, Sam Perkins, Chris Mullin joined by future Hall of Famers Karl Malone, Charles Barkley and John Stockton – who didn’t make the cut. That was some serious competition!
Be sure to check out Frank’s scouting services.