When They Were Young
Dallas Mavs college flashbacks.
by Jon Jaques / @JJaques25
In honor of the NBA Champion Dallas Mavericks (as a Laker fan, if someone besides the Purple and Gold had to win the title this season, I’m glad it was the team that blew us out of the water), I thought it would be fun to take a stroll down memory lane to see how far the Mavs have come since their college days.
If you say not every one of Mark Cuban’s employees played frisbee on the quad at a college campus before entering the League, you would be correct. Actually, quite a few Mavs (most obviously, Dirk Nowitzki) didn’t play college hoops. But each has an NCAA story or two in their background regardless.
We all know Dirk honed his unguardable one-foot, fadeaway in the beer gardens/gyms of Wuerzburg, Germany. But did you know that before being drafted by the Milwaukee Bucks 1998 NBA Draft, Dirk was recruited by Northwestern and nearly signed with Cal?
The Finals MVP also torched Colorado during the school’s 1997 summer tour of Europe, dropping 35 points on 12-17 shooting. Something tells me the big German could’ve handled Big Ten or Pac-10 competition.
It’s been a while, but JKidd was a freak back in the day at Cal. Do yourself a favor and watch this video of his freshman season in Berkeley … let’s just say I wish I was watching college basketball back in 1992.
He’s lost a step or two (or 10) from his explosive Golden Bear days (watching that video it’s sometimes hard to believe he’s the same player) but the court vision, savvy, and basketball instincts on display in the above link are unmistakable.
“JET” is now an NCAA champion and an NBA champion. Chances are you recall Terry was a member of Arizona’s 1997 title team (along with Mike Bibby, Miles Simon and Michael Dickerson among others). Many don’t remember that the Wildcats’ 1999 tournament appearance was later vacated because Terry was found to have accepted money from agents during that season.
One of the most unconventional players in the NBA appropriately took one of the stranger routes to reach this level. The Matrix played two seasons of JuCo ball at Vincennes University in Indiana before transferring to UNLV to play for the Rebels.
Tyson Chandler did not go to college and as a rail-thin, raw athlete who dominated inferior high school competition at Compton Dominguez HS in California, he probably could’ve used a year or two of seasoning.
Interestingly, some digging through the SLAMonline archives produced a story by Michael Bradley on Chandler that preceded the center’s decision to enter the 2001 NBA Draft. While the story debates the pros and cons (mostly pros) of declaring for the Draft, millions upon millions of dollars and an NBA title later, it’s hard to argue with Tyson’s decision now.
DeShawn Stevenson has finally found his niche as a three-point shooter/defensive specialist (I think he’s more of a wannabe defensive specialist, but that’s beside the point). It took him a while though. He was a stud at Washington Union HS in Fresno, CA, was headed for Kansas until a hilarious spike in SAT scores (450 to 1550) shockingly was red-flagged by the NCAA.
I’ve never been a fan of his attitude, theatrics, or game. We are who we are, but I think if Roy Williams gets a chance to work with Stevenson for a year or two in Lawrence, stuff like this maybe doesn’t happen.
Barea was the most unlikely star of this season’s Playoffs, and as a free agent to-be, will be getting rewarded very soon.
The Puerto Rican, generously listed at 5-8, played his college ball at basketball powerhouse Northeastern. This fun little clip summarizes his CAA Player of the Year season at Northeastern (major bonus points were earned for the “NBA on NBC” theme music in the background).
The man, the myth, the legend, the inspiration (for my current Twitter Avatar). Cardinal was almost certainly inserted into the Playoff rotation because Rick Carlisle lost a bet, but that is erroneous considering how clutch Cardinal was during the Finals against the Heat. In all seriousness, if it wasn’t his best basketball since his playing days at Purdue, it was his most significant.
As my former assistant coach and current Boston College assistant Nat Graham pointed out during Game 6, there’s a lot of Brian Cardinal to my game and vice versa: Energy, intensity, taking charges, making open threes, vastly inferior athleticism, and looking absolutely lost 95 percent of the time on the court. I obviously couldn’t be happier for “The Custodian.”
An injury hampered Haywood during the Finals, but the big man has come a long way since his days at North Carolina. Haywood has a solid career for the Tar Heels (believe it or not he recorded the first triple-double in school history in 2000), but he was one of those guys drafted pretty much because he is 7-1.
But Haywood has turned into your classic dependable, defensive-oriented, overpaid NBA big man. The Mavs certainly wouldn’t have been in position to make a championship run without him.