by Cub Buenning

For many people, college can often be referred to as, “the best four years of my life.” Sudden independence, freedom from parents, and the occasional party or three can often lead to that train of thought. For others, college is about continuing on with athletic pursuits while trying to juggle the stresses of classes, practice, labs, finals, and that ever-expanding pile of dirty laundry.

To shed a bit more light as to the motivation and background here at Cub Scouts, I feel obligated to give you a bit more about myself. As a 6’8” kid from the Denver-area that was a student of the game, could handle the ball, and was pretty deadly from long-range, it would stand to reason that I would attract a lot of attention from the big schools. Alas, I was blessed with just 155 pounds on my 80-inch, 18-year-old frame, but with the wit and motivation to still parlay my love for hoop into a chance to play Division-I basketball.

I was pretty narrow-minded from the start of my college selection process. The University of Colorado passed on me, so I knew that most of the “BCS” conference schools were probably not going to be calling either. My focus had to change. In an odd and ironic twist of fate, it basically came down to the military service academies and the schools from the Ivy League. Both played in competitive “tourney-qualifying” conferences and both offered the best of everything in the academic world, if not through completely different methods and ideologies.

After having convinced myself that the United States Air Force Academy down the street in Colorado Springs was the place for me, I had an epiphany of sorts. I made my last visit (yes, I was flown, however, no cars, envelopes of cash, or women were involved) to Brown University in Providence (RI) and fell in love with the college lifestyle. I ignored the fact that the league did not offer athletic scholarships. I stood like a skinny-ass punk against a wall for the entire night at an off-campus party and drank a couple beers. I couldn’t wait to come back next fall for more. The fact that a few of the Air Force players had been recently deployed to Kuwait for Desert Storm had a little effect, as well.

Sorry, I’m rambling. Brown was the best place for me as an individual and a human being, but possibly the worst place for me as a basketball player. I did little to contribute to the “on-court” legacy of the program, but the team and the life was exactly what I had signed up for. I will probably go down as one of the nation’s best practice and warm-up players. I was hated and loved throughout the league for my head-banded long, curly locks and my resemblance to Christian Laettner and Kurt Rambis. I was hated and loved around the league for my propensity for launching finger-rolls from the free-throw line during warm-ups. But more than anything I loved (with no hate) college basketball and the experiences it provided. I was able to compete against teams from the Big East, ACC, Atlantic-10, the WCC, and even got to play twice at the hallowed halls of Cameron Indoor Stadium on the campus of Duke University.

In short (kinda long, I guess) college ball will be given a much larger platform here at SLAMonline. This column will feature in-season game breakdowns, tons of NBA scouting stuff, sit-downs with players and coaches, and an interesting side story or two along the way. There will be no power rankings of teams, players, and/or conferences. If every other outlet wants to quantify the current, “up-to-the-minute quality” of a team/individual then they can have at it. You will, however, know how I feel about the teams and where I might “rank” them in turns of the nation’s elite. Luckily, NCAA basketball has the tournament to sort that type of stuff out and to me, rankings only matters around the time when guys like Joe Lunardi become relevant national personalities.

I am more than aware that most of our diehards are strictly fans of the professional game and I can’t hate on that, the NBA rules. But to those who love the college game and follow it from Midnight Madness all the way to One Shining Moment (which I used to love and now haven’t seen in a few years) you are sure to enjoy what this space will bring. This column, however, will have a dual function that will address our NBA constituency, as well.

As to the semi-corny name of this column (I was never a Cub/Boy Scout, by the way,) the past two seasons of basketball, I have rededicated myself to the college game and how it supplies talent to the NBA. I have watched in upwards of 500 games, scouted players with big names and those a little less known (I.e. Jason Thompson of Rider who I peeped almost a dozen times through out his stellar if not mostly missed, college career. I’ll still never know how he fell through the cracks and ended up at Rider. By the way, he has a younger brother who is pretty nice and still at Rider. He is a few inches shorter and plays a different style of game than the Sacramento rookie. For Rider fans out there, enjoy it. That might be the extent of my postings about the Jersey institution.) I decided to start taking copious notes which has resulted in a stack of white paper covered in my chicken scratch about hundreds of players. Some of those names have moved on to professional careers, but for those that remain, they now have a home.

In the future, you will be confronted with many links in this space. Whenever higher-level players are mentioned in any of my posts, their names will likely include a link to my service, collegetonbascouting.wikispaces.com, a side-site saved solely for scouting. (For example, I will soon break down the Pac-10 Conference and speak at length about how important Chase Budinger is to Arizona’s success this year.) You can check the site out in its entirety when time permits or just stop over and get some quick information while in the midst of one of my future columns. The content and database will grow steadily throughout the summer with more players being added and others updated based on performances later this fall.

So for now, I bid you all adieu from high atop the Rocky Mountains (8800 feet above sea-level to be exact.) Cub Scouts will be back quickly in early August with some conference previews.