Rasheed Wallace Calls Into Question Old College vs. NBA Debate Over Passion and Heart

Posted by Chris Johnson on October 11th, 2012

Chris Johnson is an RTC Columnist. He can be reached @ChrisDJohnsonn

For most college basketball fans, the professional brand of the game they love has never resonated in the same endearing way. For reasons ethical and not, the general perception of NBA hoops is not a good one. It is, with few exceptions, terrible. Whether it’s the isolation-heavy offense, lack of defensive organization and discipline, or the fuzzy conception-based judgment that the game just isn’t played the right way in the professional ranks, there are few more infuriating three-letter sequences for college hoops fans than NBA. I’ve never quite understood the origins or the staying power of this criticism, nor do I subscribe to the same viewpoint. Every year, the NBA offers us a nearly six-month slate of the best basketball in the world, played by the best athletes in the world – most of which come from the programs college fans invest their time, money and passion enjoying. It’s not the same as the college game; the differences are as obvious as they are numerous. But if you enjoy basketball played at the highest level, robbing yourself of the sport’s greatest compilation of talent, spectacle and athletic brilliance seems silly. Whatever your opinions on the NBA the organization, it’s awfully difficult to come up with a sound argument justifying your lack of attention to the league’s on-court product. These guys are really, really good. That alone should pique your hoops-watching impulses enough to flip-on at least a few games each year.

With Wallace speaking out against the NBA’s competitive integrity, college fans’ complaints gain a layer of credibility (Photo credit: Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images).

Perhaps the most frequent gripe with NBA basketball brings us to the realm of intangibles, the vague qualities that enhance (or devalue) the tenor of the game’s flow of play. The NBA’s lack of passion or fire or intensity, or whatever descriptor suits your position, is raised with alarming consistency in just about any anti-NBA diatribe. The typical argument proceeds as follows: College players lose their competitive drive when they reach the NBA and receive their first paychecks. Financial incentives, so the narrative goes, rob college players of the passion and unbridled joy that made them so fascinating to watch at their respective programs. If you share this mindset (as this is a college basketball blog, there are no doubt at least a few readers who most definitely do), you are not alone. One NBA contemporary is on your side. Rasheed Wallace – former North Carolina Tar Heel, first-round pick, four-time All Star, all-time NBA bad boy first-teamer, and most recently, New York Knicks frontcourt relief option – opened up with Brian Lewis of the New York Post Wednesday to reveal the reasons behind his unlikely age-38 comeback.

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Morning Five: 07.18.12 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on July 18th, 2012

  1. This offseason has been unique in the sense that a newly promulgated NCAA rule has allowed coaches and their players to have considerably more in-person interaction than in previous years. While students (including new freshman) are on campus attending summer school, coaches can provide two hours per week of instruction and training. It may not sound like much on its face, but 24 hours of focused practice when compared with zero is a substantial difference. CBSSports.com’s Matt Norlander writes that without question, coaches around the country are 100% behind this new rule and are employing it to the best of their abilities. That is, except in the Ivy League. The wrinkle in the Ancient Eight is that Harvard and Princeton — academic titans though they are — do not offer summer school coursework. Without a level playing field among all eight schools, none of them can (or will) take advantage of the rule. And aside from that, summer courses cost money, a bit of a pinch for non-scholarship athletes. It’s an interesting insight into just how different the priorities are from the rest of Division I basketball, even at a successful time when the league is placing competitive teams (Cornell, Princeton and Harvard) into the NCAA Tournament.
  2. While on the subject of summer basketball, one of the great things about unofficial team pick-up games is that it makes for tremendous message board fodder: “Ivan Renko dropped 45 on Anthony Davis in a half! He’s going to be a first-team All-American!” You know how it goes. Players who are career bench-warmers or otherwise unfulfilled talents seemingly become hoops messiahs under the dim lights in the sweaty gyms of July and August. That isn’t to say that there aren’t clues to be found, though, especially in cases where players have never actually been seen in uniform before. One such storyline coming out of Kansas in the past week is that redshirt freshman Ben McLemore is drawing reasonable comparisons to former Jayhawk star Brandon Rush for his jaw-dropping athletic ability and shot-making prowess. Down on Tobacco Road, UNC’s Leslie McDonald and PJ Hairston may not be getting such a lofty comparison from a former player, but they are receiving lessons in how to play the game from former Tar Heel superstar Rasheed Wallace. So there’s that.
  3. While on the subject of the Heels, one of the slowly smoldering stories in the back rooms and dark alleys of the Internet this summer has related to the ongoing academic scandal involving a large number of football players at the school. Armed with the knowledge that some of UNC’s basketball players took the same tainted courses as the football team, Pat Forde in a piece Tuesday mentioned that UNC has not been as forthcoming as some would like with the release of exculpatory information. He doesn’t go as far as to make any accusations of wrongdoing other than to quote a history professor at UNC who remains skeptical, but it does bring up a question of transparency and whether UNC might be willing to throw football under the bus to save the basketball program.
  4. We’ve mentioned Jabari Parker quite a bit in the last week, as the Class of 2013 prospect made news for narrowing his list of schools down to a more manageable 10 suitors and his family’s decision to let him rest for the remainder of the summer camp period. At least one school that you may have heard of on the recruiting trail — it starts with a K and ends with a Y — may, according to an unnamed head coach “who has been involved” with Parker’s recruitment, be the clubhouse leader. Duke has been mentioned as Parker’s leader numerous times by people supposedly in the know, and BYU has always been in the mix because of the LDS connection. All any prognosticator worth his salt can do at this point is await announcements as to where Parker will take his official visits and work backwards from there.
  5. A number of college basketball head coaches are in North Augusta, South Carolina, this week for the Nike Peach Jam, an elite prep basketball event featuring many of the nation’s top uncommitted players. Local news station WJBF-TV interviewed a few of the attendees about the Penn State/Sandusky scandal, and at least Clemson’s Brad Brownell, Minnesota’s Tubby Smith, and Georgia Tech’s Brian Gregory appear to be “using Penn State’s mistakes as a lesson.” For the sake of the next generation of America’s overlooked children, let’s hope so.

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Give Me the Loot — UNC & Duke Headline Top NBA Earners by College Alumni

Posted by EJacoby on February 9th, 2012

Evan Jacoby is a regular contributor to RTC. You can find him @evanjacoby on Twitter. 

If you want to ask your friends a great trivia question, or perhaps settle a debate, check out the Wall Street Journal’s list of college basketball programs whose players have earned the most money in the NBA since 1985. The WSJ calls it the ‘Basketball Alumni Loot Index.’ This is the kind of intense research that pays off, as this article is now a great bookmark for fans’ reference.

UNC's Rasheed Wallace Made A Lot of Noise in the NBA; He Also Made A Lot of Money (AP Photo)

A look at the data shows plenty of interesting results. North Carolina and Duke are the first and second schools on the list, to nobody’s surprise. Our beliefs are confirmed that these two programs produce the most successful NBA players. Powerhouses like Arizona, UCLA, Georgetown, Connecticut, Kansas, and Kentucky all round out the top 10, again legitimizing the findings. Incredibly, Division II school Virginia Union cracks the top 50 of the list thanks to the $100 million-plus earnings of Ben Wallace and some of Charles Oakley’s deals from the 90s. DePaul has made the NCAA Tournament just once in the past 12 years, but they rank #31 on this list, thanks to recent pros like Wilson Chandler, Quentin Richardson, Bobby Simmons, and Steven Hunter. They also had Rod Strickland in the late 80s, who signed multiple lucrative contracts in a great 17-year career.

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RTC NBA Draft Profiles: Daniel Orton

Posted by jstevrtc on June 22nd, 2010

Over the course of the next month until the NBA Draft on June 24, RTC will be rolling out comprehensive profiles of the 30-35 collegians we feel have the best chance to hear their names called by David Stern in the first round that night.  There won’t be any particular order to the list, but you can scroll back through all the finished profiles by clicking here.

Player Name: Daniel Orton

School: Kentucky

Height/Weight: 6’10/255

NBA Position: Power Forward/Center

Projected Draft Range: Late First Round

Overview: If you needed any further proof that the NBA Draft selects players on potential and not on actual past performance, look no further than Daniel Orton.  That’s not to say that Orton didn’t produce for Kentucky in his one season there.  He certainly did everything that was expected of him, and did it well.  But we’re talking about a player who averaged 3.4 points, 3.3 rebounds, and just 13.1 minutes a game.  That said, Orton was excellent in his role as a backup to DeMarcus Cousins and Patrick Patterson as needed, excelling on defense, specifically shot-blocking, and showing enough raw offensive skills to have the scouts salivating. He only hit double-figures twice all season, but that’s just because of the limited minutes.  With talent like this, if he’d have gotten the time (or stayed in school longer) his numbers would have probably been about triple what they were.

An intense, imposing physical specimen, Orton will carve out a living hitting the glass and blocking shots.

Will Translate to the NBA: Orton’s body was NBA-ready by the time he played his first college game.  He frequently uses that size to overpower defenders on his way to the basket and finish with confidence.  Though it could stand a little more arch, his jumper is fairly solid at this early stage.  He is physically imposing but actually has very nice touch on his shot after a post move and certainly as he gets right up to the rim.  On the defensive side, he’s way ahead of the curve in terms of shot-blocking ability, and that skill is evident whether he’s guarding his man straight up or if he’s  leaving his man and helping from the weak side.

Needs Work: Orton played so little compared to a lot of prospects, teams just don’t have that much to go on.  He had surgery on his left knee during his last year of high school, and while he never appeared to be favoring it, there were times when simple post moves or getting up the floor on a break seemed a little harder than one would think.  Because he’s going to make his living down low, he’s going to be getting to the free throw line a lot, and raising his percentage up from the 52% he shot at Ketnucky (to be fair, that was also his field goal percentage) is required.  Finally, it was a single incident, but the in-game sideline spat with coach John Calipari in the SEC Tournament was highly publicized, and Orton didn’t help his image by actually leaving the bench and going back to the locker room, even if he was under orders.  He’ll need to convince teams that his head’s in the right place and he won’t make a habit of openly questioning authority.

Comparison Players: Orton’s use of his physique to do things like create space for shots, set screens, and out-muscle opponents for rebounds reminds us of Leon Powe of the Cleveland Cavaliers.  If a Kentucky example is needed, his physique brings to mind the Rockets’ Chuck Hayes; like Hayes, Orton’s greatest value to an NBA team will come on defense.  Hayes is a little quicker, but Orton actually has a higher offensive ceiling.

Best Case Scenario: The key to Daniel Orton’s success will be patience.  He has the body and all the tools to carve out a very nice decade-long NBA career, if not longer.  But because he’s being drafted largely on potential, the team that drafts him will need to see some of that potential become realized in practice and in limited game time before they’ll really unleash him.  That’s not the easiest thing for young players to accept.  If he can show off his defensive abilities enough through hard work in practice, he’ll get more minutes in games, and then the offensive chances will come.  If he’s satisfied with that, after a few seasons his game could be refined enough to where he’ll find a niche on a team that needs a tough-nosed, hard-rebounding, “glue-guy” type of player that the fans love, the type of player that embodies the hard work coaches would like to see out of their whole roster.

2013 Projection: The process described above will still be happening after three seasons.  We wouldn’t be surprised to see him start to get increased minutes late in his third season and thereafter.  Up to that point, we’d expect Orton to have made an early living as a rebounding and shot-blocking specialist while the full range of his offensive game continues to grow.

Best NBA Fit: Orton will be taken almost right in the middle of the draft, and while Oklahoma City (21st and 26th pick) needs front line help in a major way — and it’s a pick that would land Orton back in his home state — the best fit for him as far as teams in that range is the Boston Celtics (19th pick).  Despite their post-season success, Boston was one of the worst rebounding teams in the league (29th of 30) and averaged a -1.5 rebounding margin.  If Kendrick Perkins‘ knee remains suspect and the retirement rumors about Rasheed Wallace are true, the Celtics would be left without a true center, and the third man on the depth chart at PF would be the unimpressive Shelden Williams.  Plus, you could do a lot worse than to have Kevin Garnett as a teammate and mentor.

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30 Days of Madness: Dwight Stewart’s Heave From Sixty Feet

Posted by rtmsf on March 29th, 2010

We’ve been anxiously awaiting the next thirty days for the last eleven months.  You have too.  In fact, if this isn’t your favorite time of year by a healthy margin then you should probably click away from this site for a while.   Because we plan on waterboarding you with March Madness coverage.  Seriously, you’re going to feel like Dick Cheney himself is holding a Spalding-logoed towel over your face.  Your intake will be so voluminous that you’ll be drooling Gus Johnson and bracket residue in your sleep.  Or Seth Davis, if that’s more your style.  The point is that we’re all locked in and ready to go.  Are you?  To help us all get into the mood, we like to click around a fancy little website called YouTube for a daily dose of notable events, happenings, finishes, ups and downs relating to the next month.  We’re going to try to make this video compilation a little smarter, a little edgier, a little historical-er.  Or whatever.  Sure, you’ll see some old favorites that never lose their luster, but you’ll also see some that maybe you’ve forgotten or never knew to begin with.  That’s the hope, at least.  We’ll be matching the videos by the appropriate week, so all of this week we’re heading down memory lane at the Final Four.  Enjoy.

NCAA Final Four

Dateline: 1995 NCAA Final Four – Arkansas vs. North Carolina

Context: At the 1995 Final Four, Arkansas came in as the defending national champions but conventional wisdom had the North Carolina team consisting of all-americans Jerry Stackhouse and Rasheed Wallace as the favorite.  For a half, it appeared that UNC was the better team, frustrating the Arkansas shooters and holding a seven-point lead just prior to the half.  After forcing a Hawg turnover with just 3.6 seconds remaining in the half, UNC threw the ball length of the court over the heads of everyone, resulting in a bounce off the opposite backboard and ending up in Arkansas’ hands.  One quick pass to 6’9 center Dwight Stewart upcourt, and a push shot from sixty feet, and suddenly Arkansas fans didn’t feel so bad about their position heading into the halftime break.  This momentum helped Arkansas take control behind Corliss Williamson’s strong second half, and the Hawgs ultimately returned to their second consecutive national championship game two nights later.

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30 Days of Madness: Childress Owns the ACC Tourney

Posted by rtmsf on March 11th, 2010

We’ve been anxiously awaiting the next thirty days for the last eleven months.  You have too.  In fact, if this isn’t your favorite time of year by a healthy margin then you should probably click away from this site for a while.   Because we plan on waterboarding you with March Madness coverage.  Seriously, you’re going to feel like Dick Cheney himself is holding a Spalding-logoed towel over your face.  Your intake will be so voluminous that you’ll be drooling Gus Johnson and bracket residue in your sleep.  Or Seth Davis, if that’s more your style.  The point is that we’re all locked in and ready to go.  Are you?  To help us all get into the mood, we like to click around a fancy little website called YouTube for a daily dose of notable events, happenings, finishes, ups and downs relating to the next month.  We’re going to try to make this video compilation a little smarter, a little edgier, a little historical-er.  Or whatever.  Sure, you’ll see some old favorites that never lose their luster, but you’ll also see some that maybe you’ve forgotten or never knew to begin with.  That’s the hope, at least.  We’ll be matching the videos by the appropriate week, so for the next four days, we’ll be re-visiting some of the timeless moments from Championship Week.  Enjoy.

Championship Week

Dateline: 1995 ACC Tournament

Context: In the 1995 ACC race for conference superiority, there were four teams who stood above the rest.  UNC, Wake Forest, Maryland and Virginia ended the season in a four-way tie for first place at 12-4 in one of the most closely contested conference races in the history of the league.  The NBA talent just on those four teams was impressive: Jerry Stackhouse, Rasheed Wallace and Jeff McInnis at Carolina; Tim Duncan and Rusty Larue at Wake; Joe Smith and Keith Booth at Maryland; Cory Alexander at UVa.  But in that year, there was one player who barely got time at the next level who made the ACC Tournament his own personal shooting gallery: Wake’s assassin, Randolph Childress.  In the quarterfinals against Duke, Childress drilled eight threes and went off for 40 points and seven assists in a comeback win.  The next day in the semis, he cooled off for only six threes and 30/7 assts against Virginia as Wake won again, moving on to face their nemesis North Carolina in the ACC Championship game.  In that overtime thriller, Childress again went nuts, hitting nine more threes en route to scoring 37 points and handing out another seven dimes, including the last 22 points and the game-winner for Wake (keep in mind that eventual 4-time NBA champion Duncan was also on this team).  Over the course of three days, Childress shattered the ACC Tournament record for points (107) and scoring average (35.7 PPG), leaving many of the long-time ACC observers stating that they’d never seen anything like it before in the history of that storied league (even so, Childress was not a unanimous selection for tournament MVP!).  Legend has it that he played the tournament with a broken finger and that during the stretch run against Carolina, he told his teammates to give him the ball every time down the floor and “get out of the way.”  Interestingly, the video showing one of Childress’ crossovers to get open for a three against Jeff McInnis has gotten even more run that his shot to win the game in overtime, but they’re both fantastic.

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NCAA Preview: North Carolina Tar Heels

Posted by nvr1983 on March 18th, 2009

North Carolina (#1 seed, South, Greensboro pod)

vs. Radford (#16)
Mar. 19 @ 2:50pm

Vegas Line: UNC -26.5

unc-ncaa-graph

Thanks to Vegas Watch for providing these graphs that measure the moving average of a team’s spread (moving avg.) over time vs. the spread for each individual game (indiv).  If a team’s moving average is higher than zero, then Vegas currently has a higher opinion of them than Pomeroy, and vice versa.

General Profile

Location: Chapel Hill, NC
Conference: ACC, at-large
Coach: Roy Williams (170-37 at UNC, 588-138 overall)
08-09 Record: 28-4 (13-3)
Last 12 Games: 10-2
Best Win: A good case can be made for the thirty-five point stomping of a future two-seed, when UNC topped Michigan State 98-63 back in November in the ACC-Big Ten challenge. Of course it doesn’t really have the emotional resonance of the two wins over Duke (101-87 and 79-71, respectively.)
Worst Loss: With only a few to choose from, I’d go with the loss to Boston College, 85-78, on January 4th.
Off. Efficiency Rating: 123.9 (#1 in the nation)
Def. Efficiency Rating: 90.8 (#20 in the nation)

Nuts ‘n Bolts

Star Player(s): Tyler Hansbrough (21.4 ppg, 8.2 rbg, former Player of the Year, multiple record holder), Ty Lawson (15.9 ppg, 6.5 apg, ACC Player of the Year).
Unsung Hero: Ed Davis (6.4 ppg, 6.8 rpg) only gets 18.8 minutes a game, but has come on strong in recent weeks and is a solid third big man for when Hansbrough or Thompson needs a spell.
Potential NBA Draft Pick(s): Ty Lawson (23rd), Tyler Hansbrough (25th) , Danny Green (42nd), Wayne Ellington (unranked).
Key Injuries: Ty Lawson, injured toe (missed ACC tournament, should play in the NCAA’s) and Marcus Ginyard, left foot stress fracture (out for the season).
Depth: 27.3% (257th nationally); percentage of total minutes played by reserves
Achilles Heel: Penetrating guards that can also pull up the three, lapses on defense.
Will Make a Deep Run if…: Ty Lawson is healthy and the team plays like the experienced and talent-laden squad they’ve been all season.
Will Make an Early Exit if…: Lawson does not return, or rocks fall on the team bus and everybody dies.

NCAA History

Last Year Invited: 2008, Final Four team
Streak: 6 years running
Best NCAA Finish: They’ve won it a couple of times; it made the local paper. (1957, 1982, 1993, and 2005)
Historical Performance vs. Seed (1985-present): +0.34. On average, the Tar Heels win 0.34 more games per year than they would be expected to compared to the historical performances of other teams with a similar seed.

Other

Six Degrees to Detroit: (1) UNC has never played a basketball game in Detroit. (2) No current UNC player is from Detroit, or the state of Michigan. (3) They have supplied the Pistons with a number of players, including Robert McAdoo, (1979-81), Pete Chilcutt (1993-94), Kenny Smith (1996-97), Eric Montross (1998-2001), Jerry Stackhouse (1998-2002), Hubert Davis (2002-03), and Rasheed Wallace, and coaches Larry Brown (2003-05), Phil Ford (2004-05), Dave Hanners (2003-05), and Pat Sullivan (2004-05). (4) All of these people know where the secret button is on the court of the Palace that releases the attack bears trained to devour your opponents, and have told that secret to the current UNC team. (5) Doug Moe was drafted by the Pistons in 1960, but chose instead to matriculate from Elon College. The next year he was drafted by the Chicago Packers and went instead into the ABA. (6) There is no six.
Distance to First Round Site:
55.6 miles
School’s Claim to Fame: UNC is the first state university, founded in 1793. And we don’t really care what Georgia has to say about it.
School Wishes It Could Forget: That among its notable alumni currently employed in broadcasting are Rick Dees and Stuart Scott. Yep, we brought you both “Disco Duck” and “Boo ya!” So yeah, that’s our bad.
Prediction: A Final Four appearance is pretty likely, provided everyone is healthy and they can maneuver a tough bracket. Beyond that, it’s a tough weekend; there are good four or five teams who could the Heels fits in Detroit. But what kind of biased blogger would I be if I didn’t pick Carolina to win it all?

Major RTC stories: UNC: #1 With a Bullet, UNC: Let’s Not Go Sucking Each Other’s [redacted] Just Yet, Tyler Hansbrough Out Indefinitely, Hansbrough – For Your Own Good, Play or Get Out, #1 UNC Already Dodging Bullets, UNC Picks Up Another Piece, RTC Live: Take II (Gameday: Miami @ UNC), ATB: Carolina Gets Teague-Bagged, ATB: #1 Goes Down as BC Flies Like an Eagle Over UNC, and Who’s Driving the Ford Now?.

Preview written by… T.H. of Carolina March

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Where are they now? (Championship Edition)

Posted by nvr1983 on March 24th, 2008

We found an interesting piece in ESPN.com’s Daily Dime last week. They decided to list players from recent championship teams that are still in the NBA. They happened to miss a few players who we added. We might have missed a player here and there. If we did, leave a comment with an update on their status since it’s hard to keep track of all these leagues around the world.

You may notice that the number of NBA superstars from championship teams has decreased in recent years with the exception of Carmelo Anthony. We feel it is pretty clear that this is becasue a lot of guys who are NBA stars decided to skip college or not stay around long enough to win a title. We’re pretty sure Kobe Bryant, Lebron James, and Dwight Howard (he would be a senior now!) would have affected the NCAA tournament a little.

The list:
2006-07 Florida: Al Horford, Corey Brewer, Joakim Noah, Taurean Green, & Chris Richard.
-All of the UF guys seem like they could end up being solid pros. Even Richard who is spending time in the NBDL could end up being a decent bench guy. Horford has exceeded expectations and is challenging the much more hyped Kevin Durant for Rookie of the Year honors. The real question is whether any of them other than Horford will become stars in the league. Noah and Brewer have a chance, but we aren’t sold on them yet. We think Noah will end up being a solid contributor if he can keep his mouth shut.

2005 North Carolina: Rashad McCants, Raymond Felton, Sean May, & Marvin Williams
- All of the Tar Heels have turned into respectable NBA players, which isn’t surprising to anybody who say this team play. May hasn’t played this year due to injuries, but was putting up respectable numbers when he was healthy. Felton and Williams are definitely the studs of this group although McCants does show flashes of brilliance up in Minnesota not that anybody sees the Timberwolves play.

2004 Connecticut: Emeka Okafor, Ben Gordon, Hilton Armstrong, Josh Boone, & Charlie Villanueva
- While this group has turned out 3 solid NBA players (Okafor, Gordon, and Villanueva), we get the suspicion that none of these guys will turn into the superstars they were expected to be. It seems hard to believe that a lot of people thought Orlando made a mistake drafting Dwight Howard ahead of Okafor in 2004. However, this is a solid group of pros that will probably end up being the equal of the last 2 championship teams (UNC and UF).

2003 Syracuse: Carmelo Anthony & Hakim Warrick
- While Melo has lived up to the hype and is a perennial All-Star, it appears that Warrick is going to stay in the 10 PPG and 5 RPG range, which is probably worth a $8 mill/yr contract or a max contract if Warrick can wait for an offer from Isiah. Having seen this team play at the East Regional in Albany that year, this is one of our favorite championship teams particularly because they were the last team that was a big surprise winning the tournament. We knew that Gerry McNamara’s game wouldn’t work at the NBA level, but we always liked him and often thought that he was closer to Jameer Nelson in college than a lot of analysts were willing to admit.

2002 Maryland: Juan Dixon, Steve Blake, & Chris Wilcox
- The players from this team, which won the ugliest Final 4 in recent memory, have done just about what we expected as pros. Dixon has been a solid player who is often underappreciated by his team and has floated around the league but contributed everywhere he has gone. Steve Blake has provided solid if unspectacular point guard play and won a starting job in Portland for a time over the uber-hyped Sebastian Telfair. Wilcox has been somewhat of a disappointment. He puts up solid numbers, but has never turned into the star that his athletic ability suggests he could be. Of course, he was the same way in college so it shouldn’t come as a surprise.

2001 Duke: Shane Battier, Chris Duhon, Carlos Boozer, & Mike Dunleavy
- It amazing that on this team with several college superstars (including Jason Williams), that Boozer turned out to be the stud of the group. While Casey Sanders’s lack of development forced him to play the center position more than he probably should have, he was a guy who was routinely abused by Brendan Haywood. Somehow, Boozer grew a pair of huevos; so much so that he stabbed a blind man in the back. Just imagine what Boozer could have become if he had stayed in Cleveland to play with Lebron James. Battier, Duhon, and Dunleavy are all solid NBA players even if they haven’t lived up to their draft status (Dunleavy) or hype (Duhon-”What a man!”). To be fair, Battier was selected after Kwame Brown and Eddy Curry, so maybe he wasn’t taken too early. The most disappointing thing about this group is that we never got to see what Jason Williams could have become. Although he struggled adjusting as a rookie with the Bulls, he showed flashes of brilliances including a triple-double against a still-in-his-prime Jason Kidd.

2000 Michigan State: Charlie Bell, Morris Peterson, & Jason Richardson
- Jason Richardson has put up solid numbers even if we have a hard time considering him a star. He’s a phenomenal athlete who has never really made the transition to the superstar (except in fantasy basketball) that many projected for him. Morris Peterson had a solid run as a consistent double-figure guy in Toronto before going to New Orleans this year. As for Bell, we never expected much out of him, but he has had a nice little career and actually averaged 13.5 PPG last year. That championship team’s heart and soul was Mateen Cleaves who had a couple of nice seasons where he was one of the top cheerleaders in the league particularly when he was on the Kings. However, he never stuck and according to Wikipedia he is now playing for the Bakersfield Jam of the NBDL.

1999 Connecticut: Richard Hamilton & Jake Voskuhl
- This team, which we ranked as the best team of the past 10 years, knocked off an unbelievably loaded Duke team that might have been in the top 10 of all-time had they won that night in St. Petersburg. While Hamilton has been an excellent NBA player and one of the few guys in the league who can hit a mid-range jumper, the rest of this team has been a disappointment. We had no idea that Voskuhl was still in the league and barely noticed him when we knew he was in the league. The team’s other star Khalid El-Amin played for a short time in the NBA before finding his way to the CBA and Ukranian Basketball League before end up with Türk Telekom B.K. of the Turkish basketball league. We weren’t able to find much information about Ricky Moore, the star of the title game. We’re assuming that he had a rather undistinguished career after that night in St. Pete.

1998 Kentucky: Nazr Mohammed & Jamaal Magloire
- The Wildcats, who weren’t expected to win the title this year, were fueled by a big comeback against a very young Duke team in the South Regional finals. Looking back at this team’s roster, we couldn’t see anybody else on this team making a big impact in the NBA. Magloire had a run from 2002-2006 where he averaged around 10/10 and made an All-Star team (more the result of the lack of centers than his exceptional play) while Mohammed has had a slightly less distinguished career. His most notable achievement was helping the San Antonio Spurs win the 2005 NBA Championship (with an assist from Isiah Thomas).

1997 Arizona: Mike Bibby & Jason Terry
- Both Bibby and Terry have had excellent careers as was expected for them coming out of college. The more intereresting story is that of the team’s star Miles Simon. Simon was never considered a top NBA prospect, but we at least expected that he would stick around the league because he could make plays. Instead he spent a year in Orlando then traveled across the globe, before ending up in the CBA where as his Wikipedia page states he became “the most decorated player in CBA history”. Not exactly what we expect out of the MOP.

1996 Kentucky: Antoine Walker, Derek Anderson & Nazr Mohammed
- This was likely the last of the all-time great teams. This team was incredibly deep with 6 guys who had significant NBA careers (including Tony Delk, Ron Mercer, and Walter McCarty). This team just crushed the teams they played utilizing Pitino’s press with their superior talent and athleticism. None of the players ever became a superstar, but all of their studs had solid NBA careers including a handful of All-Star appearances and awards. We’ll leave Rick Pitino’s stint in Boston for another post.

1995 UCLA: N/A
- This team didn’t really have as many superstars as other championship teams did, but they played very well together finishing an impressive 32-1. They had 2 first-round picks (Ed O’Bannon and George Zidek) who had short-lived NBA careers. The team’s other stars were Tyus Edney, Toby Bailey, and Charles O’Bannon, but none of them ever did anything notable in the NBA.

1994 Arkansas: N/A
- Nolan Richardson’s “40 Minutes of Hell” team used a late Scotty Thurman rainbow 3 to knock off Grant Hill’s Duke team, which basically consisted of Hill and a bunch of nobodies. Corliss “Big Nasty” Williamson had a nice career first in Sacramento then in Detroit even winning the NBA Sixth Man of the Year in 2002. Thurman ended up leaving school early, going undrafted, and playing in the CBA.

1993 UNC: N/A
- This team didn’t really have any guys we considered potential NBA All-Stars back in 1993. Of course, we were 10 at the time and were already learning to hate the Tar Heels. We’ll let you look at the starting lineup and make up your mind: Eric Montross, Brian Reese, George Lynch, Donald Williams, and Derrick Phelps. Not exactly a murderer’s row of talent there. To be fair, Montross, who hails from the same high school as Greg Oden and Mike Conley Jr. (Lawrence North in Indianapolis), was selected 9th overall by the Celtics and had a decent rookie season before falling off the map. George Lynch was also considered a solid prospect coming out as 12th overall to the Lakers. He only had a mediocre pro career never averaging over 8.6 PPG and his main NBA achievements on Wikipedia are wearing 3 numbers (#24, #30 and #9) while with the Lakers and being traded to the Grizzlies to clear up cap space (and buffet space) for some guy named Shaq. Phelps played briefly in the NBA. And when we say briefly we mean 3 games and 1 shot, which he missed. Donald Williams, who is best remembered for being the MOP and having a huge game against the Fab 5 in the title game, spent his professional career floating around every league on the planet except for the NBA. The more interesting thing is that the Tar Heels actually had more talent the next year when they added Jerry Stackhouse and a young Rasheed Wallace (who in a sign of things to come got tossed from the McDonald’s All-American game) to this nucleus. However, the 1994 team never really came together and lost to Bill Curley and the Boston College Eagles, which was famously captured on this SI cover.

1991-92 Duke: Grant Hill
- Along with the 1996 UK team, Christian Laettner’s Blue Devils were the last of the teams that we consider truly great. To consider how big/great this team was, you have to remember that before this team, Mike Krzyzewski’s boys were the lovable losers who couldn’t win the big one despite multiple Final 4 trips. After this team, Duke became Duke. This team was really built around their 3 superstars: Laettner, Bobby Hurley, and Grant Hill. Everyone knows their college accomplishments: Laettner (#12 on ESPN’s list; maybe the top college player since 1990); Hurley (NCAA all-time assist leader); and Hill (also led Duke to the title game with a YMCA team around him in 1994). Laettner actually had a decent pro career, which most people would realize if he hadn’t been so great in college or if he wasn’t the most hated college player of all-time (multiply Joakim Noah by 100 and you get Laettner). His career highlights include an All-Star appearance as well as being an original Dream Teamer (ok, I can’t type that with a straight face). Hurley was selected 7th overall by Sacramento, but had his career derailed early with a car accident (signs of things to come for another great Duke point guard). However, we don’t think he would have ever become a great NBA PG as evident by how Jason Kidd destroyed him in the 1993 NCAA tournament. Hill actually had the best NBA career of the bunch and was considered one of the top 5-10 players in the league before multiple foot/ankle injuries eventually turned him into a shell of the player that he once was. Antonio Lang was taken 29th overall by Phoenix, but never did much in the pros. Brian Davis played a season in the NBA before floating around the basketball planet and settling on running a Duke-based group that tried to buy the Memphis Grizzlies with Laettner (the deal fell through). Thomas Hill (best known for being the guy crying after Laettner’s 1992 East Regional shot) was drafted 39th overall by Indiana, but never played in the NBA as he played in the Australian National Basketball League for a few years.

That’s all I have on these guys/teams. If you have any more information or comments, feel free to leave them in the comment section.

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