We've Seen Some Dudes...
This all started harmlessly enough. A random Saturday night. A friend who was a couple bourbons into his weekend. Games on TV, none of which included VCU. And a text that asked a simple question: who are the greatest players VCU has faced in conference play? From there we bandied a few obvious names and then decided to take it to twitter.
We heard from fans. Former players. Former opposing players. The PA guy. New York-based writers. It was awesome because it spilled into Sunday morning. So here we are.
There is almost zero science to this list. I looked at stats but did nearly zero actual work. It's more of a thought-based exercise because while VCU has had some incredible players come through we've also seen some incredible players. I appreciate everyone's input, especially that first text. It is admittedly incomplete and we can keep the conversation going. The snow is stopping and I have other thing to do.
I had to break it into two lists: great players, and players that drove us crazy. This is my list. It's not made to argue; rather it's meant to reminisce. Let's go dancing in the dark, and walking through the park:
Brett Blizzard (UNCW) put more abject fear into me than any other opposing player. He could shoot, he could drive. When he turned the corner off one of those 45 screens they set for him, the next sound was always a swish. Straight assassin.
Clarence Weatherspoon (Southern Miss) could move Mount Rushmore and then grab an offensive rebound and score over Lincoln. He went something like 6-6, 240 lbs and was agile.
De'Andre Bembry (St. Joseph's) has to be my favorite non-VCU player. Super smooth and could do everything. He was a handful because he was never uncomfortable, never harried. He just did things.
Johnny Newman (Richmond) is a write-in vote. I'm not very good with guys I did not directly watch play, so I have to lean on career averages, Newman's overall career, and the multiple times he was nominated by those who did watch him play.
Charles Jenkins (Hofstra) gets the nod in the fifth spot for being the "that guy's a problem" guy for four years. He also had one of the great alltime quotes, when asked why he doesn't have any tattoos: "you ever see a bumper sticker on a Maybach?"
Team If Only Ironically, I chose to separate three guys that would be on the list. We only got one year of Jose Juan Barea (Northeastern), and two years of Obi Toppin (Dayton) and Gary Neal (Towson; thank you Jamal Shuler). Yeah, I'm cheesing out a bit here. I admit it. But there's a part of me that leans into four-year stardom. It's why Jenkins made it to the first team. Others Nominated
Langston Galloway (St. Joseph's): I could easily have put him in the mix as he's the closest thing to Blizzard in that you knew he was going to score.
Kent Bazemore: was in the original top five. If you have a problem call Robby. He talked me out of it.
Dee Brown (Jacksonville): A Chris Brower nomination, Brown terrorized the Sun Belt well before emerging in the NBA.
Marcus Thornton (William & Mary): I feel safe in knowing this guy is on multiple lists. A walking bucket.
Gerald Lee (ODU): A Joey Rodriguez nomination. Any 6'9 guy that can shoot out to the three-point line is dangerous.
Jerald Honeycutt (Tulane): He went 6-9, 240lbs and was a 19/8 bruiser who could shoot threes. Thankful we only got two years of that.
Matt Janning (Northeastern): it's not easy to play the foil of Eric Maynor but Janning was up to the task. A long Euro career followed.
Odell Hodge and Chris Gatling (ODU): Chris Brower nominated Gatling, and I remember Hodge being one of the largest humans I knew.
Old guys nominated: Terry Catledge (South Alabama), Jerome Mincy (UAB ), and Tellis Frank (Western Kentucky)
Laimis KIsielius. No, he does not belong on the list but we're including him. His teammate and friend of our goofballery Chris Stratton nominated Kisielius, who as you know made the final second banker to beat VCU in the 2008 CAA tournament. That was brilliantly cold of Stratton and I love it.
Team KA PITA
These guys could not graduate quickly enough. Some were closer to the list than others but for some reason they killed us.