When looking back at the nearly 20 years I’ve spent covering Kokomo-area high school boys basketball for the Tribune, I put the Class of 2003 at the top of the list when it comes to depth of talent.
I often think of that class when a talented new crop comes along. The 2003 group set the bar high.
I found myself thinking of that class again Sunday night, but for an entirely different and sadder reason. Craig Shuck, one of the members of that class, died after a lengthy battle with melanoma.
Shuck was just 29. He should have been in the prime of his life. But cancer, as we all know, is a cruel opponent.
Shuck played at Northwestern. He later found a way to remain involved in the sport as a coach, working at Brownsburg. He was a varsity assistant for the Bulldogs when they won the 2008 Class 4A state championship.
Julian Mavunga, one of the stars of that team, offered a touching tribute to Shuck via Instagram and Twitter on Sunday night.
“ ... He was a hooper, a coach, an inspiration, a son, a fighter, and a great person,” Mavunga wrote. “This guy held on twice as long as doctors thought he would and the last time I visited him and saw him he showed me that I had a lot to be thankful for. Because even [though] he was sitting in a living room dying and he knew it, he seemed as if he was going to live forever. May God be with his family and may he rest in peace! #ShuckStrong”
Shuck was a talented point guard for Northwestern. He was a two-time KT All-Area player, averaging 15.9 points, 5.7 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 2 steals per game in his junior campaign and 18.2 points, 5.8 rebounds, 5.1 assists and 2.5 steals as a senior.