Mark "Mad Dog" Madsen starred on some great San Ramon Valley High basketball teams in the early 1990s, but longtime Wolves coach John Raynor was perhaps even more impressed by Madsen's humility.
"He was a self-effacing person, always deflecting any praise," Raynor said recently. "And that's who he is as a human being. He's not putting that on. That's who he is. He is an incredible ambassador for the human race. It's way beyond basketball."
Madsen, a Utah resident, will be among four inductees Thursday during the 20th annual Tri-Valley Sports Hall of Fame event at the Palm Event Center in the Vineyard in Pleasanton. The other inductees are Justin Andrade (bull riding), Derek Guffey (swimming) and Marci Porter Lucier (rowing, America's Cup sailing).
Nearly 20 years ago, as a sophomore, Madsen led Raynor's 1991-92 Wolves team to a California Interscholastic Federation Division II state runner-up finish. Former Giants outfielder and current New York Yankee Randy Winn was also on that talented squad.
Madsen averaged 23.1 points, 16.5 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per game as a senior. His grade point average was 3.70.
A current assistant coach with the Utah Flash in the NBA Development League, the 6-foot-9 Madsen led Stanford to four NCAA Tournament appearances, including a Final Four berth in 1998. He collected back-to-back NBA titles with the Los Angeles Lakers in 2001-02 before playing six seasons with the Minnesota Timberwolves. He was traded to the Los Angeles Clippers in 2009 and was released in August.
During the victory celebrations after the Lakers' championships, Madsen stole the show with his rhythm-challenged dance moves, which became must-see TV.
"I do not want to get anywhere near a dance floor," Madsen said with a laugh during a recent phone interview.
Back in high school, Madsen took on many tasks and "never really looked rushed," Raynor said. He was the editor of his school's newspaper, an honor student and served in several clubs. He earned the rank of Eagle Scout just before his 18th birthday — the cutoff date for the achievement.
"Mark just had an unbelievable sense of maturity for a young high school guy," said Raynor, a previous inductee in the Tri-Valley Hall of Fame. "Mark was the complete package, both academically and physically. He had a high level of motivation and was eager to learn. He was an optimal athlete to coach."
Madsen credits Raynor, San Ramon Valley's athletic director, with helping shape his life on and off the court.
"Coach Raynor's the best," Madsen said. "He's not only a great coach — I truly believe Coach Raynor is one of the best coaches in the world — but he's also a truly world-class human being."
Madsen said whenever he runs into a former Wolves player, they reminisce about Raynor's program, which emphasizes hard work, discipline and loyalty.
Madsen competed during a glorious era of Wolves basketball. The year before he was called up to varsity, the 1990-91 team finished No. 2 in the state. Madsen's former Wolves teammates Winn and Kevin Dunne both played with future NBA MVP Steve Nash at Santa Clara University. Dunne was on the 1993 Broncos team that, as the 15th seed, stunned No. 2 Arizona in the 1993 NCAA Tournament.
Others who teamed with Madsen at San Ramon Valley were Slovenian Klemen Zalatel, Todd Benatar and Scott Rudy.
After graduating from high school, Madsen served a two-year mission in Malaga, Spain, as a member of the Church of Latter-day Saints, where he learned to speak Spanish.
Fame hasn't dimmed Madsen's fondness for the East Bay. One of 10 siblings, he recently visited his sister and her husband in Pleasant Hill and took their kids hiking.
"I love Danville and I'm looking forward to coming back," Madsen said.
Past Tri-Valley Hall of Fame inductees include John Madden, Randy Johnson and Rob Heidger.
This year's Special Olympian inductee is Natalie Day, of Livermore, who is part of the Easter Seals Bay Area Kaleidoscope After-School program. San Jose Sharks play-by-play man Randy Hahn returns as the master of ceremonies, and Joe Rose, with the Pleasanton Junior Football League, will receive the Bob Vincent Community Service Award.
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