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I grew up a huge Indiana basketball fan, and, like everyone, I grew up an even bigger fan of March Madness.  Yes, Cleveland State and Richmond and Seton Hall each took their turn as my personal Ides of March, but it never fully dampened my enthusiasm for the teams, schools and players of the NCAA Tournament.  Each over year, I developed appreciation for players of different schools.

Here is my favorite player from each school represented in this year’s Sweet 16. (I will admit to some age bias. You never lose that reverence of things from your formidable years.)

I’d love to hear some of yours!


ARKANSAS- Todd Day (1988-92)

Todd Day from Arkansas

I remember the 1990 Final Four, as Arkansas was holding the ball near mid court against Georgia Tech, CBS’s Billy Packer said “Day is within his range.”

Day averaged 18.9 points in his Arkansas career and left as the Razorbacks’ scoring leader.

I loved that, like me in the early 90s, he was unafraid to shoot from anywhere.


GONZAGA- Jalen Suggs (2021)

Jalen Suggs Gonzaga

Highly regarded when he arrived for his only season in Spokane, Suggs exhibited his winning mentality when he hit one of the most epic shots in tourney history.

His buzzer beating “3” ousted UCLA and lifted his guys into the title game.

Bonus that it happened in Indianapolis.


TEXAS TECH- Darvin Ham (1993-96)

Hamm Breaking Backboard

Broken Backboard

The future Pacer averaged 8.1 points per game in his Red Raider career, but his 1996 glass shattering dunk in a 92-73 tourney win over North Carolina is one of the tourney’s most iconic moments.


MICHIGAN- Glen Rice (1985-89)

Glen Rice Michigan

Near blasphemy for a 1989 Indiana fan to go with Rice, but the Hoosiers swept Michigan that year.

Rice’s 184 points in the 1989 tourney is still an NCAA record, and he carried the Wolverines to the title after Bill Frieder bailed on them.

Bonus for beating Seton Hall, who had bounced Indiana in the Regionals.


VILLANOVA- Harold Jensen (1983-87)

Villanova Harold Jensen

He was a double digit scorer as a Senior for the Wildcats in 1987, but Jensen’s 5/5 shooting in the ’85 title game, as well as game sealing free throws, helped ‘Nova beat Georgetown in one of the biggest title stunners in tourney history.


HOUSTON- Hakeem Olajuwon (1981-84)

Hakeem on Houston

He was “Akeem” before he added the “H” at the pro level, but “The Dream” was the anchor for Phi Slamma Jamma.

He averaged 16.8 points and 13.5 rebounds a game while shooting 68% from the floor in 1984, and played in the Final Four all three years of his college playing career.


ARIZONA- Steve Kerr (1983-88)

Arizona Steve kerr

Lute Olson built a dynasty in the desert, and Arizona became the trendy “it” school of my high school years.

Long before his NBA career, Kerr was the plucky kid whose father has been tragically killed by the P.L.O., and whom with each “3”, motivated the Tucson crowd to yell his name in repeat of the P.A. announcer.

He shot 58% from 3 point range.


PETER’S- Doug Edert (2019-present)

Doug Edert

The guy is what March is all about. He looks like Uncle Rico, got an endorsement with BW3 and has fearlessly led one of the great Cinderella runs of all-time.

Bonus for eliminating Kentucky.


PURDUE – Glenn Robinson (1992-94)

Glen Robinson

I could put Troy Lewis here, as well, but Big Dog was too dominant. We were the same class in High School, and by our sophomore year, Glenn became damn near an urban legend.

The Beast from up in the Region.

7 foot 2 Greg Ostertag learned of the legend when Robinson posterized him so hard in the ’94 Regionals that Ostertag gave him dap on the floor.

His 30.3 per game scoring 1994 season was the most dominant college season I have witnessed.


PROVIDENCE- God Shammgodd (1995-97)

God Shammgodd

With apologies to former Pacer Austin Croshere, with whom Shammgodd teamed to lead the Friars into the 1997 Regional Finals.

Shammgod tallied 23 points in an Elite Eight overtime loss to eventual champion Arizona.

His name is God, for crying out loud.


IOWA STATE- Ron Bayless (1991-93)

Ron Bayless

Sure, Fred Hoiberg,  Jeff Hornaceck, Jamaal Tinsley Marcus Fizer and many others had NBA Careers, but the smooth Bayless was a steady shooter.

He averaged 12.9 points as a Cyclone, after being over shadowed in High School by teammate Greg Graham at Indianapolis Warren Central.


MIAMI, FL- Shane Larkin (2011-13)

Miami Basketball player

Larkin’s  NBA career may have fizzled after being a Top 20 pick, but I’m too young to have seen another Hurricane option, Rick Barry.

James Jones was a nice player, but he wasn’t related to the World Series winning shortstop of my favorite MLB team.


NORTH CAROLINA, J.R. Reid (1986-89)

JR Reid

A million to choose from here.

It would be smart of me to select Dean Smith’s first captain, Donnie Walsh, but I never saw him play.

I loved Sam Perkins as a Pacer, but Reid was a star as an under classmen in an era where that was an anomaly.

A ubiquitous and infectious grin went along with averages of 15.9 points and just over 6 boards a game before Reid became an early NBA entry.


UCLA- Cameron Dollar (1993-97)

UCLA- Cameron Dollar

Admitted bias here, as Dollar and I became buddies during our concurrent eras in St. Louis. Reggie Miller and Mitchell Butler are two of my favorite Pacers, but I like underdog stories.

In 1995, Bruins’ Point Guard Tyus Edney was hurt in the National Championship game, and the Sophomore Dollar stepped in with 8 assists and 4 steals in 36 minutes to secure UCLA’S 11TH championship.


DUKE- Grant Hill (1990-94)

DUKE- Grant Hill

A year ahead of me in school but a month younger, Hill was on the radar as a hoops legend long before he arrived in Durham.

He gets this spot simply for his incredible alley-oop dunk to open the 1991 National Championship, against Kansas, at the Indianapolis Hoosier Dome.


KANSAS- Adonis Jordan (1989-93)

KANSAS- Adonis Jordan

Speaking of Kansas in the Hoosier Dome, it was the RCA Dome by December of 1992 when the 3rd ranked Jayhawks rolled in to take on Number 4 Indiana.

I, a huge IU fan at the time, watched as 40,000 rose in unison try and rally Indiana to a win. Jordan calmly walked up the floor and helped KU take the air out of the Dome.

He had a quiet confidence I admired- as painful as it was to watch.

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