Thursday, March 11, 2010

What Ever Happened to …

As I was watching the game between Notre Dame and Seton Hall last night in the Big East Tournament, all I could seem to think about is, "What ever happened to Chris Thomas?"

Remember him? The point guard out of Indianapolis that came to Notre Dame and helped change the culture of basketball in South Bend? Well I do. He's one of the few Notre Dame basketball players I actually liked. And he's the first player that comes to mind when I think Notre Dame basketball.

There's good reason for that. Thomas literally burst onto the scene as a freshman in 2001-02, averaging 15.6 points, 7.6 assists and 2.2 steals per game while shooting 88.9 percent from the line and 36.9 percent from three, earning Big East Rookie of the Year honors and the Basketball Times and Basketball News National Freshman of the Year. Just as impressively, he turned a relative after-thought of a team into an exciting, exhilarating one. A team everyone wanted to watch, if for no other reason than to see what Thomas would do next. Here was this 6'1", 190-lb dynamo running and gunning all over the place. He made the Irish fun to watch.

He continued to play at a high level the next two seasons for Notre Dame, averaging 18.7 points and then 19.7 the year after that, but his assists numbers dwindled, and his overall shooting percentage hovered around 38-40 percent. He was still fun to watch, but he never quite could re-created that awesome freshman season. And his senior year was actually his worst, as he finished with his worst scoring average (14.2), second worst assists per game (6.7) and shot career lows from the field (34.6 percent) and three (34.4 percent). And with that, we never heard from Chris Thomas again.

There's hardly a trace of him anywhere. Even on YouTube, this is all I found:

Naturally, I became curious as to his whereabouts. Turns out, Thomas is playing overseas in Spain, where he plays for Ayuda en Accion Fuenlabrada. Apparently, the guy is still doing his thing, which is good to see. What's not so good to see is the players Notre Dame has been recruiting since he left.

The Irish are nowhere near as exciting as they were when Thomas was running the show. Now their marquee player is Luke Harangody, one of the ugliest, oafiest people on earth. And his game is just as ugly. Every shot looks awkward and forced, his foul shooting is horrible form and he just doesn't look like a basketball player. I hate him. And as an extension, I hate everything about Notre Dame basketball.

Once I got started thinking about Chris Thomas, that got me wondering about the first players who come to mind on the other teams I was watching last night. The most obvious pick for Seton Hall is Eddie Griffin, for multiple reasons. For starters, he's from Philadelphia, a Roman Catholic standout who went to the Hall and then the NBA, before his untimely, strange death. But he's not the first player I associate with Seton Hall. Neither is Samuel Dalembert, everyone's favorite Philadelphia 76er.

No, the Pirate I think of first of foremost was a teammate of both Griffin and Dalembert, and never had nearly as much personal success. That guy is Ty Shine.

Why do I remember Ty Shine the most? Not because of his kick-ass name (though that certainly helps). No, because he's the one who took over the game and hit the game-winning shot that left me devastated in 2000, bouncing the 2-seeded Temple Owls led by Lamont Barnes, Lynn Greer, Mark Karcher, Pepe Sanchez, Kevin Lyde and Quincy Wadley. Shine, a backup point guard certainly not known as a scorer, came off the bench to replace injured starter Shaheen Holloway. Then he proceeded to go off for 26 points. He hit 7 threes, including the game-winner with 18.9 seconds left. The guy ruined my life at the time. A guy who never even averaged double digits in points in his four years somehow went bonkers for 26 to beat Temple in the second round. Unreal.

I also watched Quinnipiac lose to a dirty, rotten school from Pittsburgh last night, giving Robert Morris another bid to the tourney. I don't know anything about players from either school, so let's just move on.

The nightcap came with Cincy upsetting Louisville last night. I only watched about five minutes of this game because I fell asleep all sorts of early. But I decided to play the name game with these schools as well.

I'm not sure why, but the first guy who comes to mind when I think of Louisville is David Padgett.

Maybe it's because Scott Padgett also played for Rick Pitino and seemingly was there for 8 years at Kentucky. Maybe it's because like Scott, David Padgett started his collegiate career at Kentucky. Maybe it was because he was an extremely talented player who always seemed to get hurt, so every time Louisville played, every announcer talked about Padgett, his injuries and what could have been. I don't know. But for some reason, he's the guy who comes to mind.

Padgett never blew anyone's doors off with his numbers, but it was evident he was really good when he played. Though there's nothing spectacular about him. He did, however, play in the NBA, spending four seasons with Utah, two with Houston, one with the Nets and last playing in the 2006-07 season splitting time between Houston and Memphis. Who knew? I don't ever remember seeing him out there.

As for Cincinnati, well, there's plenty of players to choose from. Under Bob Huggins, this team owned Conference USA, and even was ranked No. 1 in the country with Kenyon Martin starring. Naturally, Martin, who broke his leg right before the NCAA tournament his final year, would be most people's first choice. But for me, he's not the first guy I think of when I think Cincy basketball.

Nope, that guy is Steve Logan.

First of all, Logan is a dead ringer for DMX. Seriously.

Secondly, Steve Logan was the man. After limited time his first two seasons, Logan went nuts, scoring 17.6 points per game as a junior and 22 as a senior. He was deadly from three (career 37.8 percent), automatic at the line (86 percent) and could dish and even rebound despite his 6'1", 200-lb frame. But scoring was his calling card and what he was known for. Logan never met a shot he didn't like, and frankly, there wasn't a shot he couldn't make. And when he was, he was ON.

Take, for instance, Feb. 15, 2002. The Cincinnati Bearcats took on Southern Miss. Steve Logan scored 41 points. Southern Mississippi scored 37 points. That's right, Steve Logan outscored an entire team he was playing against by four. Cincy won 89-37, Logan won 41-37.

The guy was just a beast.

Logan was drafted in the second round by Golden State, but he never really got going in the NBA. Dime has the details on Logan, at least as of September:

Logan was nearly drafted in the first round (meaning guaranteed money) of the 2002 Draft, but as fate would have it, he dropped to the first pick of the second round (30th overall) by Golden State. After an ugly contract holdout, Logan did not participate in Golden State’s training camp and was traded to the Mavs. That move proved to be career suicide as Logan never played a single minute in the NBA to date.

Over the years, Logan has played in the ABA, Poland, Israel and most recently Venezuela. Last year, the Venezuelan LPB league featured names like: Luis Flores, Oscar Torres, Mike Campbell, Torraye Braggs, Chris Jeffries and Carl Elliott.

Recently, Logan told the Cincinnati Enquirer that he wanted to finish school and get into coaching. “It’s a big thing to me to give back to the kids and stay in basketball,” said Logan. “I love the game of basketball. I’ve learned a lot of things to give back to players to teach them how to be good players.”
That dream might be put on hold. In early August, Logan was accused and charged with rape. This incident happened just one month after he was told that he was going to be inducted in the UC’s Athletic Hall of Fame.

So yeah, not exactly good for Logan. But he was tits in college.

BallHype: hype it up!

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