by Micah Hart
Here’s a popular conversation around this time of year:
Sports Fan A: Oh man, imagine how good School A would be if Player X had just stayed one more year. They might have won the NCAA Tournament!
Sports Fan B: Tell me about it. And look how good School B could have been this year. Player Y and Player Z would both be seniors!
If you watched the two amazing basketball documentaries last weekend — ESPN’s “Fab Five” and HBO’s “Runnin’ Rebels” — you know what I’m talking about.
Nowadays, Chris Webber would never have called his infamous timeout in the NCAA title game because he’d almost certainly have left after his freshman year — as would have Jalen Rose and Juwan Howard. Larry Johnson, Greg Anthony and Stacey Augmon — all of whom were first-round picks in 1991 — returned to UNLV after winning the 1990 national championship. The only guys who have done that recently were Florida’s ’04s of Corey Brewer, Al Horford, Joakim Noah and Taurean Green — and even then, everyone knew they were the exception.
While we’ll never know if Syracuse could have repeated as national champs in 2004 had Carmelo Anthony stayed, or what kind of ridiculous stats Kevin Durant might have put up had he stayed four years at Texas, we do know they became stars in the NBA.
Which leads us to a new series we will be running on All Ball over the course of the next few weeks:
Bragging Rights: The Ultimate Battle for School Pride
The premise is simple:
We want to know which school has the best NBA players. Over the next few weeks, we will pit every school with at least five players currently on active NBA rosters against each other in a hypothetical, March Madness-style, single-elimination bracket.
We’ve seeded the teams (see below), and we’ll roll out a few games each week. You vote for the winners.
We’ll start this afternoon with Stanford vs. LSU.
Why spend your time wondering how good your favorite college team could have been when your favorite players are still in action today? Once a Dukie, always a Dukie, right?