Top basketball players of the century: Boys No. 8, Mark Pancratz of Schaumburg

  • Schaumburg's Mark Pancratz clutches the state championship trophy after the Saxons beat Thornwood to win the Class AA title in 2001.

    Schaumburg's Mark Pancratz clutches the state championship trophy after the Saxons beat Thornwood to win the Class AA title in 2001. Daily Herald File Photo

Updated 5/29/2020 1:36 PM

Editors note: The Daily Herald is counting down the Top Ten boys and girls basketball players of the century in our coverage area. We continue today with No. 8 -- Mark Pancratz of Schaumburg and Sarah Boothe of Warren.

Mark Pancratz may not have been the flashiest basketball player of his era, but he sure did all the other things required to earn the label of a standout.


Pancratz, the 2000-01 All-Area Team Captain for the Northwest suburbs, led his Schaumburg team to the Class AA state championship his senior year, averaging 18 points, 5 rebounds and 6 assists per game for coach Bob Williams' Saxons. He scored a team-high 21 points and had 10 assists in a 66-54 win over Thornwood in the state title game.

But that's not what Pancratz remembers most about his time as a Saxon.

"It's the teammates, the community and the effort and sacrifice it took to be successful," said Pancratz, who comes from a huge sports family that includes his dad Andy, who was a basketball star at Hersey and for Ray Meyer at DePaul (1972-76). Mark's mom Jeanette had a long tenure as a volleyball coach at Schaumburg and Mark's brother Zach played on varsity as a freshman on the 2001 state title team before going on to play at NIU. Their youngest brother Jake was a senior starter on the 2005-06 Elite Eight team and their sister Drewann played basketball and volleyball for the Saxons.

"We played for the front of the jersey before anything else," he said.

Pancratz played for one of the most successful coaches in the area, Bob Williams, who won 347 games in his 18 years at Schaumburg.

"He was tough," Pancratz said. "But what I've learned is the greatest gift anyone can give anyone is high expectations. That's what enabled our team to be successful."

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Pancratz went on to play at Wisconsin-Milwaukee, where he played in three NCAA tournaments, making it to one Sweet Sixteen, where his team lost to Illinois at the Allstate Arena. He then embarked on a coaching career where he spent seven years as an assistant at Tennessee under Bruce Pearl and Cuonzo Martin, reaching the NCAA Tournament five times.

Family became Pancratz's focus after coaching. He and his wife Brooke have three children -- Charli (9 years old), Landri (6) and Jovi (4).

Today, Pancratz lives in Knoxville, Tenn., where he is the co-managing director for Northwestern Mutual.

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