Morning Five: 07.07.11 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on July 7th, 2011

  1. The big news yesterday was the death of Armen Gilliam, who starred at UNLV and led the 1987 Rebels to a 37-2 record and a Final Four appearance. Gilliam died while playing in a pickup game near Pittsburgh and although initial reports suggested that he had died of a heart attack in fact the cause of death will not be officially determined until an autopsy is performed at a later date. In addition to his playing career at UNLV and in the NBA, Gilliam also coached at Division III Penn State-Altoona. No announcements have been made yet regarding funeral services for Gilliam, but we expect a big turnout like NC State had for Lorenzo Charles this past weekend if the Gilliam family chooses to do so.
  2. Georgia Tech transfer Brian Oliver announced yesterday that he would be heading to Seton Hall. Oliver, who averaged 10.5 PPG and 4.5 RPG last season as a sophomore including a 32-point outburst against Syracuse. Despite a disappointing end to his season where he missed the last eight games due to a broken thumb, Oliver likely would have remained at Georgia Tech if not for the firing of Paul Hewitt. The Pirates were able to win Oliver’s services over a handful of teams and after he sits out a season they should have a potential All-Big East performer in Oliver.
  3. Apparently one game over .500 in three seasons is enough to get a contract extension in college basketball because Stanford announced late yesterday that they were giving Johnny Dawkins a two-year extension through the 2015-16 season. After a relatively promising 20-14 record in his first season in Palo Alto, Dawkins has seen his Cardinal team fail to break .500 in the past two season and may have worked his way out of one of the top jobs in any sport–head coach at Duke. Perhaps Dawkins can turn things around on The Farm, but he has his work cut out for him in a Pac-10 conference that is no longer as weak as it was a few years ago.
  4. Most of the attention in the US for the U-19 World Championships has been on Team USA and its college stars, but as Luke Winn reports college fans may want to start paying attention to the Australian team as several of their players may be heading to college campuses near you in the very near future. While some schools (St. Mary’s) dominated the Australian recruiting scene in recent years, the players have started to shift their focus to other schools and Winn reports the current favorites for the present group of Australian star U-19 players are Butler, Boise State, and New Mexico.
  5. With the summer circuit heading up Dave Telep has ten major storylines to watch for this month. You will find a lot of talk about all the big names that you are probably familiar with from various recruiting sources online and although we love the big-time showdowns (LeBron James destroying Lenny Cooke is our personal favorite) our favorite part is waiting for the relative unknowns to emerge as major prospects. It was just a year ago when Anthony Davis went from a decent Chicago-area prospect who wasn’t even getting much attention from in-state school to the top prospect in his class in the eyes of many recruiting analysts.
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R.I.P. Armen Gilliam (1964-2011)

Posted by nvr1983 on July 6th, 2011

UNLV legend Armen Gilliam died on Tuesday night at the age of 47 after suffering an apparent heart attack while playing pickup basketball in a Pittsburgh-area gym. Gilliam’s death occurs just nine days after NC State legend Lorenzo Charles died in a motor vehicle accident in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Gilliam had a great college & pro career (Credit: David Petkiewicz/Arizona Republic)

Nicknamed “The Hammer” for his physical play Gilliam led UNLV to a 93-11 record during his 3 seasons there culminating in a 37-2 season in 1987 that ended in the Final Four appearance. Gilliam was named a 2nd team All-American and Big West Player of the Year while scoring 903 points (still a single-season record at UNLV) while averaging 23.2 PPG and 9.3 RPG as a senior. Following his senior year Gilliam was the 2nd overall pick in the 1987 NBA Draft behind David Robinson. In his 13 seasons in the NBA, Gilliam averaged 13.7 PPG and 6.9 RPG while playing for 6 different NBA teams.

Gilliam’s jersey was inducted into the UNLV Athletic Hall of Fame in 1998 and had his jersey retired by the school in 2007. Upon hearing about Gilliam’s death, his former coach Jerry Tarkanian said, “He was one of the greatest Rebels ever and one of the best players we have ever had. In my ratings, I had Larry Johnson No. 1 and Armon No. 2. He was such a great person. Everybody loved him and he loved everybody. He was such a gentle person and such a caring guy. I am all shook up over it. I think the world of him and am just really shocked.”

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