While many fans are only watch the NCAA Tournament to see future NBA players, every big time American who stars in Europe played college ball somewhere. In honour of the 64 teams who made it to the Big Dance this year, we present our rundown of alumni for each team who made waves on the continent, and a few who made things happen elsewhere.
We break this down bracket by bracket. The tourney has already started, but there’s still plenty of time to enjoy this frivolous collection of trivia.
Keith Langford, 7th all time leading scorer in Jayhawk history, to go with Euroleague Alponso Ford Trophy winner and All Euroleague First Team 2013/14, championship winner in Israel, Adriatic League, Russia and Italy, Eurochallenge winner and Finals MVP 2009, Adriatic League Finals MVP 2012. This man puts the ball in the basket for a living.
Kenny Gregory was the McDonalds All American Game MVP, played at Kansas 1997 to 2001, made his name all over Europe but particularly Le Mans, where he won the French title in 2006, Efes Pilsen and Union Olimpija. Not to forget Chester Jets in England, yes, really.
16 UC Davis
From 1925 – 1982, played in the ‘Far West Conference’ which sounds like John Wayne used to ref games. Pro products are thin on the ground. Corey Hawkins plays for Antwerp Giants in Belgium, but more excitingly his dad is Hersey Hawkins. That’s plenty.
Kyle Kuric is one of the best sharpshooters in Europe in recent years, and probably the best not to have gone to a school in Utah. The love for former players who go pro even if outside the NBA was evident when the local media covered his heartwarming recovery from brain surgery last year. We like Kyle Kuric, and so should you.
Other Cardinals overseas include Russ Smith, Peyton Siva, Taquan Dean/Pinero, Samardo Samuels, Edgar Sosa, Juan Palacios… it’s a pro factory.
15 Jacksonville State
The list of professional athlete Gamecocks leans towards NFL, baseball and golf. There’s one dude called Walker Russell Jr whose Dad played for the Detroit Pistons. Junior has mainly balled in the D-League and Latin America, but popped up for Estudiantes and CEZ Nymburk briefly, amongs others. I thought that Grayson Allen was from the city of Jacksonville and he’ll probably end up playing for Anadolu Efes in three to five years. Turns out that’s the Jacksonville in Florida, while JSU is in Alabama. The United States has too many damn Jacksonvilles. Conclusion: JSU isn’t that interesting for Euro hoops history.
The owners of the worst homecourt design in world basketball have supplied Europe with a steady stream of ballers. Maarty Leunen is still a tidy combo 4/5 for Sidigas Avellino in italy after a few years with Cantu, including their fun 2011/12 Top 16 run under Andrea Trinchieri.
Bryce Taylor and Malik Hairston were also Ducks before Euro pros.
We go back to the early 1990s for Gaels alum Steve Burtt Sr . He bounced around the NBA in the late 80s before hooping in Greece for Iraklis Thessaloniki. He developed an interest in various forms of ‘horto magiko’, which copped him a life ban from the league. Bummer. He dusted himself down and moved on to Italy where his main habit was getting buckets, to the tune of 28 per over six years on six different teams.
SB Jr also attended Iona, and like his old man hopped overseas to hoop in a huge number of jurisdictions, although he has never been banned from any of them. On the contrary, he repped the Ukraine national team at Eurobasket 2011.
Robbie Hummel should have been an NBA player and a more successful college star but his career was hampered by repeated serious injuries. Despite this, he’s carved out a pretty good career as a spot up shooter in Europe, most recently with BC Khimki Moscow.
Also shoutout to Willie Deane who won three ‘chips in Bulgaria and one each in France and Italy even though he only played one game for Milano, in the semi-finals. Ringz.
Marquis Blakely is an undersized power forward who played one season in Germany with Ludwigsburg after failing a medical at Bonn. The fact that he now plays in the Philippines means his off-court recreation may be a little less hazy than it was in Germany.
Big white guy Taylor Coppenrath was a quick-burning college star as a result of their 2005 upset win over Syracuse. He didn’t do much in Europe, playing for AEK Athens, including a few Euroleague games, some time in the Spanish second division, then retired. I feel old.
5 Iowa State
Justin Hamilton, who dipped his toes into the warm waters of Valencia a couple years ago earned an NBA comeback in Brooklyn as a result. His college career wa split between the Cyclones, then Lousiana State. Climate wise that’s like going from Siberia to Gran Canaria.
Shoutout to Cyclones’ class of 2001 Loren Meyer, who had an NBA career with Phoenix and also won a clean sweep of trophies in 2001 for Chester Jets in England. I don’t even like that team and it’s their second mention, what is going on?
There is only one choice here. Luke Babbitt.
The absolute best named guy in this entire article is Nate Funk. He didn’t invent a new genre of gangsta rap, but he did set the record for games played as a Creighton Bluejay, is sixth overall on their scoring list (behind Kyle Korver) and played three unremarkable pro seasons in Germany for Eisbaren Bremerhaven and Erdemirspor in Turkey. A guy called Nate Funk playing for the Ice Bears, how did this not work out?
11 Rhode Island
The Baron Dynasty, y’all. Jimmy B Junior has been swishing threes for a while, most notably in Pablo Laso’s superfun GBC Lagun Aro squad from 2010-12 and winning Eurocup in 2013 with Roma,. He dropped 42 points in a BCL victory over Usak earlier this season. JBJ joined little bro Billy to suit up for Spirou Charleroi in 2015/16, who told the press back home:
“There are signs from the ’70s and ’80s that haven’t changed much since then, so it’s not a modern city… It was great having Jimmy and his family in the same building but we only play once a week. It’s a lot of practice and Jimmy got me into yoga, which is unbelievable.”
Billy went to three colleges in four years, so maybe big brother’s yoga game really focussed his mind? Those signs from the ’70s will still be in Charleroi in 2070, by the way.
Lots of options, only one real choice though. Sweet Lou Bullock. Real Madrid legend.
In other news, ex-Wolverine and Washington Wizards benchwarmer Trey Burke just signed with Misko Raznatovic’s US agent partners, so expect him to pop up when we reheat this article format in a couple of years.
10 Oklahoma State
Markel Brown followed Alexey Shved from NYC to the Khimki region of Moscow. That’s all we got for now, to be honest this article is taking longer to research than I anticipated.
8 Miami (Fla)
This “school” is known more for its football squad than roundball, but Baskonia scoring whizz Shane Larkin played two years here before being drafted. Whether he attended class or not, who knows?
9 Michigan State
Erazem Lorbek was a big deal here before his stellar career in Italy, Russia and Spain. He played alongside Alan Anderson at Barcelona. Raymar Morgan hasn’t lost a German league game with Ulm this season and is an up-and-comer, likely to break out as Euroleague big man in the near future.
It would be remiss not to mention the infamous Garrick Sherman, Republic of Georgia National Hero.
1 North Carolina
Joe Forte was a huge bust for the Boston Celtics, although he did once dunk on Kwame Brown, leading Tommy Heinsohn to exclaim ‘Michael who?!’ referring to a North Carolina standout who made a name for himself in the NBA…
He bounced around the D-League, Italy and then surprisingly wound up with Israeli citizenship and a cameo for Maccabi Tel Aviv in 2014/15. Life is strange.
16 Texas Southern
Patrick Miller, Turkey D2 Yesilgiresun, this season. Those are my notes, and I’m not writing any more.
The trouble with the pro players from schools like this, for our purposes, is they tend to just play in the NBA. There is one who managed that to a point, but also got booted from his Filipino team for calling Manny Pacquiao playing pro hoops ‘a joke’. Fair enough, Dan. Orton now plays for Greek A1 strugglers GS Kymis.
15 Northern Kentucky
NORSE. What a nickname. Euro alumni? Naw, they were D2 until 2012/13. But still. NORSE.
Jordan Farmar j/k…
14 Kent State
Small point guard DeAndre Haynes had a few years in Belgium, Germany and Finland. Yup.
Matt Howard used to ride a rusty old bicycle to practice at Butler. Now I guess he was a sweet ride because he’s comfortably settled in Strasbourg, winning the Leaders Cup in France and finishing runner up in Eurocup last season.
Michael Jenkins! Shoutout to former ELA diarists (although when we redesigned the site, it seems we lost those pages, sorry Mike).
Rick Rickert plays in Japan. OK, so what? His current team is called the Cyberdine Ibaraki Robots. Process that, while you contemplate the eventual complete automation of the economy and society.
12 Middle Tennessee State
LaRon Dendy revealed the ahem, interesting, things one can experience in the life of ‘overseas hoops’. He was playing in Ukraine for Ferro-ZNTU Zaporozhye when the unrest / war / troubles broke out in 2014. Joking aside, this report states he was living there with his fiancé and five-year old son, when the situation in the country escalated. That must be pretty worrying. Dendy is now putting up points for Duzce Belediye in the Turkish top flight.
Pete Mickael was a boss.
11 Kansas State
Jacob Pullen still gets buckets. Here he is breaking the ACB single-game 3-point record with 12 against Valladolid in 2013.
Guard Jordan Sibert has had a pretty good rookie pro season for PAOK in Greece, as they made the Basketball Champions League round of 16.
10 Wichita State
Joe Ragland is a big time scorer who hasn’t quite put it togehter at the Euroleague level, but keeps on filling it up for Sidigas Avellino in Italy.
Darnell Robinson sounds like a hundred or more coulda-woulda-mighta-beens who made decisions that might not have been the best, and spent their overseas careers convinced that they should be in the NBA. Robinson was the final pick of the second round in 1996 but never played an NBA minute. He did win the NCAA title in 1994 but declared after his junior year, only to wind up in Italy. A perimeter oriented centre, maybe he was just too early for his own time. Or maybe he was, as ARIS coach Nikos Tsahtanis said “one of the greatest underachievers I’ve ever been involved with in the last 25 years.”
9 Seton Hall
A whole bunch of Villanova Wildcats have made it in Europe, perhaps unsurprisingly for a programme that’s been known for consistent success without too many NBA stars. They won the championship last year without an NBA draft pick on the roster.
Reggie Redding epitomises how Jay Wright’s teams have been both rugged as in hard-working, but also smooth and skilled. His best season in Europe came in 2014/15 with Alba Berlin as they won the German Cup and narrowly missed out on the Euroleague Playoffs.
16. Mount St Mary’s
A guy called Julian Northfleet played one season in Bulgaria in 2014.15. That’s what The Internet says anyway.
Trajan Langdon was a kind of a thing over here.
Official early years ELA bro Marty Pocius didn’t play much for Coach K, then everyone in the States raised an eyebrow when he balled out in the 2012 Olympics.
Talking of this website, Shelden Williams played with JBAM for Elan Chalon in 2012. That’s enough to put him in the ELA Hall of Fame.
Bobby Dixon buraya gitti!
We couldn’t find anything from his college days, so here’s the oldest footage of the Uptown Mamba on Youtube:
With all due respects to Pierre Jackson, he’s only the second best Baylor alum to play for Fenerbahçe.
Shoutouts also to Curtis Jerrells, Quincy Miller and ELA-founder Sam Meyerkopf’s personal favourite Isaiah Austin.
14. New Mexico State
Jahmar Young. 10 teams in seven years. That’s all I got.
Where to begin? Patric Young and Scottie Wilbekin teamed up as a pick and roll duo to make the 2014 Final Four.
Alex Tyus, Nick Calathes, Matt Walsh… only one of these is a fake tough guy, but they were all Gators.
13. East Tennessee State
Shoutout while we’re here to Directional Tennessee schools, that’s two in the Big Dance. As for Euro alums that ETSU might boast, we couldn’t find any. But I don’t even see North, South or West Tennessee State here, so…
Sean Singletary was a Virgina Cavaliers legend, and had his #44 jersey retired. He only had a brief overseas career but it included contributing to Baskonia’s 2011 ACB Championship.
12. UNC Wilmington
6. Southern Methodist University
Ex-Mustangs are thin on the ground in Europe, and big centre Yanick Moreira only had a cup of cafe con leche with UCAM Murcia last season. He is a certified boss with the Angolan national team though, dropping 38 and 15 on Australia in this 2010 World Cup win. Good enough for us.
11. University of Southern California
Daniel Hackett had a bad season ending knee injury, but he has some cool highlights from USC to watch on his iPad as he rehabs.
7. South Carolina
Chuck Eidson was a real player in his early career in Europe. German BBL MVP in 2005 with Giessen, Eurocup champion and MVP in 2009 at Lietuvos Rytas. He also made a Euroleague final with Maccabi Tel Aviv in 2011 and the Final Four with Barcelona the year after. His teammate as a Gamecock from 1999 to 2003 was Marijonas Petravičius, former Lithuania national team centre. I wonder if it was he who coined the nickname ‘Chuck the Pluck?’
The Golden Eagles seem to produce shot-happy guards like Dwight Buycks, Jerel McNeal and Darius Johnson-Odom. So let’s not spend any more time on them.
Kirk Penney was a gunner who got buckets for a bunch of teams in his native New Zealand, the D-League and most relevant to our interests, Fuenlabrada in 2011/12.
9. Virginia Tech
A pair of big time scoring guards here. Erick Green continues to fill it up for Olympiacos after making an impact with Montepaschi Siena (I miss that team). Malcolm Delaney parlayed championships in France, Ukraine and Germany into a Euroleague Final Four trip with Lokomotiv Kuban and then the NBA deal with the Hawks that eluded him out of college.
Let’s go less obvious than Adam Morrison, less even than Austin Daye, Kevin Pangos and Jeremy Pargo.
Nah, kidding, it’s Adam Morrison.
16. South Dakota State
Current Crvena Zvezda point guard Nate Wolters is the obvious choice here, but another undersized scorer is making his name in Britain, at Newcastle Eagles. I wrote about Deondre Parks here, so here’s a video of Wolters to get more eyeballs from Belgrade.
A few candidates here including Mustapha Shakur, a rangy wing with the definition of a journeyman Euro career. But a rare European pick here, power forward Ivan Radenovic didn’t do a whole lot for Crvena Zvezda, CSKA Moscow, Igokea and others, but he did once drop 37 points on on the Lopez twins’ Stanford for the Wildcats in 2007.
UPDATE: Again thanks to the homie @YPSar for the heads up, it is on the Youtubes.
15. North Dakota
3. Florida State
Chris Singleton is still beasting for Panathanaikos and dipped his toe in the NBA for Washington, who drafted him 18th in 2011. He was a ferocious defensive player at Florida State but he could score too.
14. Florida Gulf Coast
Chase Fieler. Ourense in LEB Oro, then Donar Groningen, Netherlands, since 2015. FGCU’s 2013 Sweet Sixteen team, of which Fieler was a member, was known as Dunk City. During that magical run, Fieler was probably dreaming of setting a FIBA Europe Cup efficiency record of 46, a dream that came true in November 2016.
4. West Virginia
Da’Sean Butler was a big deal at WVU, making first team All Big East, second and third team All American teams and most importantly drafted in the second round by Miami in 2010. He never really panned out in the NBA but is a good contributor to ratiopharm Ulm’s 24-0 BBL season to date.
Jon Robert Holden.
5. Notre Dame
UPDATE: Thanks to Yannis Psarakis who pointed out via Twitter the big omission here. Former US Senator, 2000 Democratic Presidential nomination candidate and basketball Hall of Famer Bill Bradley. Sandwiched between Princeton and a decade with the New York Knicks and his political career, he won the 1966 European Champions Cup in his only season with Olimpia Milano. These Ivy League achievers…
James Gist. Marijuana possession under 10g is now legal in Maryland, by the way, since 2014. Just saying.
Emporio Armani Milano’s Jamel McLean went in hard for the Musketeers between 2008 and 2011.
7. St Mary’s
A whole bunch of Australians have come through this west coast school, seven on the current roster. That should have mandated a nickname change from Gaels to Flamin’ Gallahs or Lou Carpenters.
Point guard Mickey McConnell is not Australia, he’s American, and he was also drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers major league baseball team in 2011. His most noteworthy Euro contribution was with Telekom Baskets Bonn in 2014/15, now hooping in Spain for Obradoiro.
10. Virginia Commonwealth University
We’ll keep it GB here and pick Nick George, a muscular athletic wing out of my hometown of Manchester. At VCU from 2002 to 2006 he averaged 12.88PPG and won a CAA championship in 2004 and his only NCAA tournament appearance. He hopped around the Spanish second division, France and Italy before injury slowed him down and led to an early retirement. But at the time, British players playing actual real minutes for D1 teams wasn’t really that common. He was a trailblazer in many ways.
Northwestern made the NCAA Tournament for the first time in their history this year. However they had produced a couple of good Euro pros before they managed that. Jon Shurna was a nice stretch four for Valencia last season before signing with Cedevita Zagreb in the summer.
The final team on our list, and not a particularly inspiring one. Jeff Taylor, Real Madrid, video? Nah. Enjoy the ones above though!