We are now focusing on some of Arizona's top basketball products to come from the state over the years, and taking at look at what they have done to help Arizona basketball, as well as what they are doing now. One of the best to ever lace them up in the state of Arizona on the basketball hardwood was former Washington High School 1991 graduate Carlos Artis. Not only was Artis one of the elite basketball prospects to ever come from the state, Artis was simply one of the best overall athletes ever to come from the state.
At one time, Artis was one of the nation's elite basketball prospects, the nation's top overall wide receiver prospect in football and also one of the best track runners as well in the country during his tenure. I personally experienced the dominance of Carlos Artis in the late 1980's in Arizona sports, I am happy to write this story about him, as he has simply done so much for the progression of Arizona sports, and today continues to make his mark on the state.
Growing up in the state of Arizona and playing in the same region as Artis and Washington HS, while I attended and played for Moon Valley HS, it was obvious back then just how good Artis truly was during that era - in all sports. The region was known as the Skyline Region, and Artis dominated it - in every sport he played. Back then, Artis was a household name and could be seen on the front page of the sports section in the Arizona Republic Newspaper quite often. Either for his scoring outburts on the basketball court, his exploits on the football field or his records achieved on the track, Artis was the state's best overall individual athlete between 1987 - 1991.
Carlos Artis was the State Player of the Year in 1990 and 1991, Male Athlete of the Year, was a Nike All American and McDonald’s All American game candidate, and also led Arizona Basketball Congress International (BCI) to a National Championship for the State of Arizona for High School Basketball in 1991. Artis also became the state’s all time leading scorer in 1991 after his four years of basketball in the state - a record which he held for many years.
Artis was an icon in Arizona during his tenure. He was the first Arizona athlete that I saw with a letterman's jacket from Washington HS that featured a picture of the United States on the back of it - rating among the Top 50 players in America in basketball and football. While being rated as the #1 overall wide receiver in the country, Artis also was rated among the top individual runners in the country's 100 meters, 200 meters, 400 meters, 4-by-1 relay and 4-by-400 relay. Actually, Artis would have been one of the nation's best in whatever sport or event he chose, he was just that dominant.
As a result of his superiority in high school sports, and with a large load of college options for himself, Artis chose to play both basketball and football at Arizona State University. He would play sparingly for a loaded Arizona State team coached by Bill Freider, while also having a strong freshman season for the ASU football program. Artis' freshman season for the Sun Devils' football program can be remembered most for catching the first ever touchdown pass thrown from Jake "The Snake" Plummer.
After deciding to transfer schools for the remainder of his college career, Artis was drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles (NFL) in 1995-1996. Unfortunately for the ultra-athletic Artis, he would suffer a severe injury that would force him to retire from sports many years before he wanted to. But rather than give up on sports, Artis instead decided to turn his focus to starting a nice family for himself, and becoming one of the top young businessmen in the state. He then returned to the sport of basketball, which he has always loved, and starting training today's young athletes in the Southeast Valley.
Artis would form Team Artis, a local club program designed to develop youth fundamentals of the game and provide opportunities for many student-athletes in the community in which he serves. Artis has grown the program to one of the biggest club programs in the state, and has helped many young student-athletes in the program develop into serious contributors for their respective high school basketball programs.
After spending many years at Campo Verde High School, where he served as the program's head assistant coach, Artis was hired in April (2017) by Mesquite High School, where he is now the head varsity boy's basketball coach - a nice honor for one of the state's legendary performers and very well deserved.
The purpose of writing these stories on Arizona's best former athletes is to bridge the serious gap between Arizona's past greats and today's student-athletes, who very seldom know the history of the state's top talent. While Mesquite's basketball players know there is something special about this 40+ head coach that is dynamic in character and has an amazing personality, very few of them know what they really have. Carlos Artis is, flat out, one of the best true athletes to ever come from our state. Recently, Artis was named the 15th Best Athlete to ever play in the State of Arizona. Wow! Are you serious? Yes!
For Mesquite's basketball players in their program, and any basketball prospect that comes up today in our state, there is nothing that Artis has not personally seen or encountered as a student-athlete. He was recruited by every college program in the country in each sport he played, and sought after by every top college coach, and without the internet or any true media support. Had Artis lived in today's recruiting world of internet-based recruiting, scouting services and social media, he would have been a national sensation and a household name around the world. He still did very well for himself without it, which is even more amazing. In today's culture, Artis would have thrived.
Artis was raised in a very strict family that was founded and deeply-rooted in Christian biblical principles. He did not have a television in his home and attended church almost daily. His father was a minister in the Pentecostal faith, so there was no playing around for Artis as a youngster. He was a strong young man of faith, and a serious role model for many in the community. He marched in numerous Martin Luther King (MLK) holiday marches while in high school, and continues those same beliefs today. He is a true man of moral substance and has become an amazing father.
After raising his oldest son, Legend Artis, who had a a good college basketball career, Carlos now is focused on his younger son, Kingdom Artis, one of the better guard prospects in the state's 2019 class. Kingdom suffered a serious knee injury late in 2016, which caused him to miss last season as a junior, but the 6-foot-5 junior wing has returned this season to lead Mesquite to a strong 10-3 start to the season - Carlos' first year as the head coach. Kingdom is currently averaging 14.8 points and 5.2 rebounds per/game.
I am very thankful for what Artis has done for our state. He was one of the best athletes to ever lace them up in Arizona, and now he continues that tradition by teaching and developing the youth in his community. There is a lot to learn from Artis. While most will not be able duplicate his performance on the court or the field, young student-athletes today can learn to become the man that he has become. I am proud to call him my close friend, and appreciate him. You should too.