College Hoopedia is a one-stop shop for some of the best random hoops information on the web.
On Wednesday, they took a look at NFL players that also played college basketball. While some of the most famous names on that list — Donovan McNabb, Terrell Owens and Jason Taylor — are no longer in the league, there are still 14 former college hoopers donning pads on Sundays.
Some of them are quite well-known. We all know the story of Antonio Gates, who was a standout power forward for Kent State’s 2001 Elite Eight team before going on to become a fantasy stalwart at tight end for the San Diego Chargers. Jimmy Graham was a power forward for Miami before switching over to tight end and becoming Drew Brees’ favorite target. Old-timers and all-pros Tony Gonzalez and Julius Peppers played college ball for California and North Carolina, respectively.
Most of the athletes listed by College Hoopedia played very minor roles on their basketball teams. Connor Barwin, for example, walked on to the Cincinnati team in 2005-2006 when they were in desperate need of bodies. But there are a couple of other names on that list worth mentioning:
– Jordan Cameron accepted a basketball scholarship to BYU out of high school, but after redshirting his first year with the Cougars, he transferred to USC to pursue a football career. He currently plays tight end for the Browns.
– Demar Dotson played two seasons for Southern Miss after transferring in from a JuCo. He averaged 5.0 points and 3.6 boards as a senior.
– Julius Thomas, currently a tight end with the Broncos, is probably the best basketball playing NFLer you haven’t heard of. He played four seasons for Portland State, averaging 10.8 points and 5.9 boards as a senior in 2009-2010. As a junior, he averaged 6.9 points for a team that won at Gonzaga and made the NCAA tournament as a No. 13 seed.
Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.
Not only is Wyoming senior guard Josh Adams the lone returning starter from a team that won the Mountain West tournament last season, but he’s also one of college basketball’s best dunkers. And if anyone may have forgotten about his jumping ability, Adams put it on display Saturday during the Cowboys’ win over Montana State.
After splitting two Montana State players at the top of the key Adams attacked the basket, dunking with two hands over a late-arriving help-side defender. If you’re going to rotate over, have to do it quicker than that.
Video credit: Wyoming Athletics
Even with the coaching change from Fred Hoiberg to Steve Prohm, No. 4 Iowa State remains one of the nation’s best offensive teams. Given their skills on that end of the floor many teams find it tough to go score for score with the Cyclones, and that’s what happened to Illinois in Iowa State’s 84-73 win in the Emerald Coast Classic title game.
Georges Niang scored 23 points and grabbed eight rebounds, with Monté Morris adding 20, nine rebounds and six assists and Abdel Nader 18 points as the Cyclones moved to 5-0 on the season. The three-pointers weren’t falling in the second half, as Iowa State shot 0-f0r-12, but they shot 19-for-24 inside of the arc to pull away from a team that lost big man Mike Thorne Jr. late in the first half to a left knee injury.
Illinois’ loss of size in the paint opened things up offensively for Iowa State, and the Cyclones took advantage. But where this group grabbed control of the game was on the defensive end of the floor, and that will be the key for a team with Big 12 and national title aspirations.
Nader took on the responsibility of defending Illinois’ Malcolm Hill (20 points) in the second half and did a solid job of keeping the junior wing in check, with that serving as the spark to a 12-2 run that put the game away. There’s no denying that the Cyclones can put points on the board; most of the talent from last season is back and the productivity on that end of the floor hasn’t changed as a result. Niang’s one of the nation’s best forwards, and both Morris (who now ranks among the country’s best point guards) and Nader have taken significant strides in their respective games.
Iowa State will add Deonte Burton in December, giving them another option to call upon. Front court depth is a bit of a concern, as Iowa State can ill afford to lose a Niang or Jameel McKay, but there’s enough on the roster to compensate for that and force mismatches in other areas.
But the biggest question for this group is how effective they can become at stringing together stops. Illinois certainly had its moments in both halves Saturday night, but Iowa State also showed during the game’s decisive stretch that they can step up defensively. The key now is to do so consistently, and if that occurs the Cyclones can be a threat both within the Big 12 and nationally.