The 1998 Waltrip High School state championship basketball team was honored at the 2023 UIL Basketball State Tournament on Saturday, March 11, at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas.
“It was an extremely proud moment,” said former point guard Jarian Veazie. “Everyone was elated about the accomplishment and that everyone is still doing great! It felt just like old times.”
With an overall season record of 33-3, the 1998 Waltrip Rams were led by the late Head Coach Fred Smith and Assistant Head Coach Vincent Grayson.
Twenty-five years after making history and defeating Dallas Highland Park by a score of 67-60 to claim the 4A state title, the team reunited to celebrate winning the school’s first ever boys basketball state championship.
“It brought tears to my eyes,” said Grayson, who’s now the head coach at Booker T. Washington High School and whose team made it to this year’s state tournament. “I haven’t seen some of those guys in 25 years, so to see them doing well means a lot to me.”
Having come back from a 20-point deficit in the fourth quarter to defeat Worthing High School in the quarter finals round, the 1998 Waltrip High School boys basketball team also defeated West Columbia High School, Cleveland High School, Port Arthur Lincoln High School, and Lamesa High School in the state playoffs to advance to the state final game.
“It seems like a coincidence that they honored us 25 years later in the same year that my team played in the state championship,” said Grayson. “I could just see Fred smiling down on us from Heaven.”
Coach Fred Smith’s wife Wayna Smith was also present to stand in her late husband’s honor.
Members of the 1998 Waltrip High School boys basketball State Championship team include: Damon Steward, Cliff Grant, Thurman Austin, Kevin Biggurs, Reginald Collins, Joffrey Reid, Terrence Dixon, Cedric Taylor, DeMarcus Braxton, Jarian Veazie, Rashad Stevens, Steve Harris, Clementa Simmons, Larry Manuel, Gary Nichols, Don Alexander, Chris Magee, Randric Williams, Field Williams, Antonio Folu, Justin Lewis, and Sean Benton.