Morristown East honored one of the greatest athletes in school history Tuesday night when the school officially retired the basketball jersey of Marshall Mills.
Mills had an illustrious football and basketball career for the Hurricanes, in which he received countless awards and held many school records. His No. 10 jersey is now displayed in the hallway at Isenberg-Siler Gymnasium alongside his football jersey, which had already been retired.
In his basketball career, Mills put up some staggering numbers as he scored a school record 2,058 points and grabbed 1,574 rebounds. His scoring average for three seasons was 20.2, with 19 rebounds per game.
Mills piled up honors in both sports that would rival any athlete in Tennessee. He is the only Morristown player to make All-State and All-America in both sports. He was All-State for basketball in both 1970 and 1971.
Mills was described as being quick as a cat with the leaping ability of a gazelle. He had a silky smooth jump shot and was known for shooting long-range jumpers before a three-point line existed. If he were playing today, his point total would have been much higher.
He was given the nickname ‘Snake’ in the Citizen Tribune because of his slippery and quick moves. Mills was only 6-foot-2 but played much larger than that, and he was a rebounding machine. He once pulled down 31 rebounds in a single night.
Mills was excellent when the pressure was high. In one regional tournament game he rescued the Hurricanes by scoring the last 17 points of the game, leading to a 68-63 win. His highest single game performance came in another regional tournament game against Rogersville, in which he had 38 points and 17 rebounds. That performance put his total career points at just over 2,000 points, an impressive feat that no other Morristown player had accomplished at that time.
Another exceptional performance was against cross town rival Morristown West, when he scored 30 points, grabbed 14 rebounds and made two free throws in the fading seconds to put East up by two.
One of Mill’s teammates, Frank Parker, said that Mills was the best athlete to ever attend Morristown East, and that he could control a game all by himself because he just had that kind of ability. He could do it all.
ragically Mills’ life was cut short at the age of 38 in a vehicle accident in Nashville in December of 1991. His funeral was held at Isenberg-Siler Gym.
Here is a list of Mills’ basketball honors compiled by former Citizen Tribune sports editor Fred Williams:
SENIOR (1970 – 71), (820 points, 704 rebounds)
Picked pre-season All-District 5 (covering seven states) by All-American High School Basketball Magazine; All-Tournament Morristown Invitational; All-Big Seven Conference by league coaches, four newspapers; All-District Three; All-Tournament District 3; All-Tournament Region 2; All-Upper East Tennessee Bristol Herald-Courier; All-East Tennessee Knoxville News-Sentinel; All-State United Press International (UPI); All-State Honorable Mention Sports Writers; All-State Honorable Mention Associated Press (AP); All-America Scouting Systems of America; All-America Honorable Mention Coach and Athlete Magazine; Selected best player in the Big Seven Conference by head coaches; Cops Big Seven Conference scoring title; Team Most Valuable Player.
JUNIOR (1969 – 70), (667 points, 563 rebounds)
Most Valuable Player Morristown Invitational; All-Tournament Morristown Invitational; All-Big Seven Conference by coaches, four newspapers; All-Season District 3; All-Tournament District 3; All-Tournament Region 2; All-Upper East Tennessee Bristol Herald-Courier; All-East Tennessee Knoxville News-Sentinel; All-State Sports Writers; All-State Honorable Mention United Press International (UPI); All-State Honorable Mention Associated Press (AP); All-America Honorable Mention Coach and Athlete Magazine; Selected second best player in the Big Seven Conference by head coaches; Second for Big Seven Conference scoring title.; Team Most Valuable Player
SOPHOMORE (1968 – 69) (571 Points, 307 rebounds)
All-Tournament Morristown Invitational; All-Big Seven Conference by league coaches, three newspapers; All-Season District 4; All-Tournament District 4; All-Upper East Tennessee Bristol Herald-Courier; Cops Big Seven Conference scoring title; Team Most Valuable Player