Every few years in the NCAA tournament, you’ll be casually watching a game when the announcer starts talking about the teams’ stud Senior captain who’s been through all the ups & downs with said program. The first thought racing through your mind though isn’t how good this player is, but how in the FUCK are they still in college? You could’ve sworn this is their 8th or 9th consecutive year in the tournament, yet they just keep churning out tourney appearances like its a goddamn Simpsons episode. As Squints’ great-grandfather once said, these players have been in school FOR-EV-ER.
Honorable Mention: Scottie Reynolds – Villanova
A common theme on this list is that these players were the classic NCAA basketball “tweeners”. Phenomenal college ballers, but for one reason or another they just didn’t have the chops to make it at the next level. Scottie Reynolds is the epitome of a tweener, as he was dropping buckets from the moment he stepped on campus at Villanova. Scottie averaged over 15 points all four of his years at ‘Nova and many Big East coaches had one too many nightmares of Reynolds lighting up their squad and wondering how many goddamn years of eligibility does this dude have?!
When he sent ‘Nova to their first Final 4 appearance in over 20 years with a tremendous coast to coast effort, I wasn’t thinking about how great a play it was but instead how he was their PG when I was in Middle School and now I’m about to go to College!
While no longer the biggest shot in ‘Nova history, still a legendary drive by a player that really took advantage of his “eligibility”.
With no further ado, here’s the top 5 players of “how in the hell is this dude still in college”
5) Angel Rodriguez – Kansas State & Miami
Another surefire way to make it on this list is to transfer to a new school. The year of sitting out makes for an even longer career, and fans start going through the question of “wait is that the same guy from that other school from 6 years ago?”
Angel Rodriguez was a rare breed even in the transfer market though, as he played significant minutes for a quality team from the moment he stepped on the hardwood in Manhattan, Kansas. Usually transfers are kids who weren’t getting the playing time they deserved, were playing on a bad team with no shot at the tournament, didn’t like the coach, or a combination of all 3. Angel was none of these things, which allowed him to etch himself in our brains for nearly all of the 2010s.
Rodriguez stood out for having a shaky handle, especially for a PG, but it didn’t seem to matter as the kid made big play after big play. He played for Frank Martin IN HIS PRIME
and Bruce Weber. And that was only in his first 2 years! He then moved back to his hometown of Miami and played for another 2 years. For those counting that’s 3 coaches in 4 seasons over a 5 year span, AND 3 NCAA tournament appearances (2 with the Wildcats and one with the Hurricanes). Now that’s how you leave a long lasting legacy in college hoops.
4) Perry Ellis – Kansas
(Live look at Perry trying to figure out how to get on the 2016-17 squad).
Every time I watched Kansas this year I had to do a triple take at TV and then the box score to make sure Perry Ellis isn’t somehow still in school. Ellis became a March Madness mainstay for a large part of the past decade and started over 100 consecutive games for the Jayhawks from 2013-2016. Perhaps a more impressive feat may have been that even with all those games and talent in Lawrence over that span Ellis never made it to a Final 4 (another reason to like the Jayhawks this year?).
My real memories of Ellis though won’t be of his exploits on the basketball court, but instead of how his hairline aged in dog years during his 4 (?) year run at Kansas. Take a look for yourselves:
A nice healthy looking head of hair.
Starting to recede, but nothing too noticeable.
Umm, how did that happen in one year??
Are you kidding me? Even Lebron couldn’t touch Ellis’ transcendent receding hairline.
And get this, the most commonly asked question on Google when you type Perry Ellis Kansas is “How old is Perry Ellis?” I rest my case.
3) Brandin Knight/Carl Krauser/Levance Fields – Pittsburgh
Jamie Dixon took over the reigns at Pitt in 2003 after a very solid 4 year run from Ben Howland. However, one of the greatest players in Pittsburgh history, Brandin Knight, was set to graduate and Dixon needed a new leader. So Dixon devised a revolutionary new blood transfusion procedure so he could get all the best qualities of Knight just with a new face.
In all seriousness, Brandin Knight was for me the original guy who played for what seemed like an eternity. As a huge UCONN fan back then, Knight was always a thorn in my side, and it took a 40 f00ter in double OT to dispatch of him in the ’02 Big East championship:
Just when I thought my nightmares were over, and Pitt would fade into irrelevance, Dixon & Carl Krauser elevated the Panthers to new heights where they became a Big East powerhouse. After Krauser played for what seemed like another 10 years, averaging over 15 PPG from his Soph. to Sr. seasons, Dixon worked his voodoo magic again and found another tweener stud PG in Lavance Fields. Fields nearly took Dixon to the Final 4 promised land but alas, no matter how many years you play for Dixon you always end up falling short.
PS) If you don’t think Dixon has true black magic powers, look at the roster of his 2010-11 squad that was a #1 seed. I’m convinced that’s the least talent on a #1 seed in NCAA history, and now Dixon has brought his powers to Fort Worth bringing TCU basketball to relevance for the first time in probably ever.
2) Gerry McNamara & Eric Devendorf – Syracuse
Boy, if you didn’t like Syracuse during the 2000s, these 2 REALLY made you hate the Orange. Not only did these 2 play significant minutes all 4 years for ‘Cuse, but between the Big East and NCAA Tournaments they played a shitload of games and had some HUGE primetime moments. That combination is a surefire way to etch your way into the public consciousness and make it certain that people think you’ve skirted NCAA rules to be granted a 5th year of eligibility.
McNamara burst onto the scene during his true freshman year and teamed up with the OG one and done stud, Carmelo, to deliver Boeheim his one and only National Championship. Just a freshman, Gerry buried 6 first half three pointers to stake the Orange to a 18 point lead. The next year Gerry became the leader of the Orange as just a Sophomore and didn’t disappoint leading them to the Sweet 16 which included a historic 43 point first round blitzing of BYU:
But Gerry’s memorable moments weren’t even close to done. As a junior he was on the wrong end of an upset, giving us the epic T.J. Sorrentine “FROM THE PARKING LOT” (RIP Gus Johnson March Madness calls) Vermont over Syracuse upset:
And just when you thought Gerry couldn’t conjure up any more memorable moments, he turned MSG into his personal playground before anyone knew who Kemba Walker was; taking a 7-9 in Big East play ‘Cuse squad on a 4 wins in 4 nights wild ride during the ’06 Big East Tournament:
The player who scored the game winner in the Semis that year over Georgetown? Add a 2 to his jersey and a few tats and you got Eric Devendorf who went on to play for God knows how many more years in upstate NY. Between that magical ’06 run and the marathon 6 OT Big East tournament game against UCONN in ’09, Devendorf also made sure we saw him in the spotlight way more than we cared to:
1) Greg Paulus – Duke
Everyone has had their Duke player that they hate with the passion of a thousand burning suns – Christian Laettner, J.J. Redick, Shane Battier, Jon Scheyer, Gerald Henderson (for that fateful forearm to Hansbrough’s face), etc. etc. etc. The one guy that I unquestionably & unequivocally despised more than anyone was Greg Paulus.
Paulus came to Durham as the Gatorade High School player of the year and the number one overall recruit in the country (?!), and I instantly knew this was some Dook farce. The kid wasn’t very good, but yet somehow took the starting PG job for a national powerhouse as a true freshman and rode Redick’s 40 footers to the tune of 5.2 assists per game. The most frustrating part though was that every single fucking announcer sucked this guy’s dick more than they do Coach K’s. I heard the words “tenacity”, “leadership”, “scrappy”, “gritty”, “competitor”, more times than this idiot would slap the floor getting ready to flop.
Live look at me trying to get my way through those Duke games:
The worst part about it was that he was only a Freshman! I had to sit through 3 more years of diving, flopping, floor slapping and I’m convinced he taught Grayson Allen how to trip. I mean, look at this flop:
Mercifully, he was at Duke so long he managed to lose his starting job his Senior year and had been dunked on so many times, he was treated to one of the best Free Throw chants I’ve ever heard:
But, just when you thought the long reign of Teabag Paulus was set to end he decided he was going to stay at school even longer and transferred to Syracuse to play football after his basketball career had ended! That’s what makes him a true legend on this list as he wanted us to hate the living shit out of him for as many years as the NCAA could possibly allow.
And just cause I’m in a hating Duke kind of mood: