Trading carrots for chocolate pudding since 2012.
DEAD MAN WALKING! As a kid growing up I was the biggest Providence Friars fan there was. My brothers went to Rick Pitino’s, Gordy Chiesa’s, and Rick Barnes’ basketball camp. We loved going to the Providence Civic Center to watch intense college basketball games. Think of it as watching minor league baseball, but better! You got to see future NBA stars playing their hearts out because they didn’t know they were stars yet. Providence was never favored to beat anyone, especially in the Big East Tournament, so it always made playing the ranked teams like Syracuse, UConn or Georgetown that much more exciting!
I can remember having fake slam dunk contests in my fifth-grade elementary school class. There was no hoop, but we would try to touch the top of the closet where our winter coats would hang. I would always be someone from PC, while my best friend Scott (still one of my best friends to this day) would always be someone from Syracuse.
We were kids that didn’t have a care in the world, but we loved Big East basketball and the Big East Tournament! We could name every player on every team. We remember seeing Ray Allen play for UConn or Chris Mullin never missing jump shots for St. John’s.
Derrick Coleman had every single skill a player could want while playing for Syracuse.
Who could forget seeing the absolute beast that was Patrick Ewing just simply dominating at Georgetown?
Those PC games take me back to my youth and a happy place. Over the past couple of years I have slowly watched my favorite basketball conference die a slow death.
It started when Boston College left. I get that they wanted to get more football money, but they ruined a great rivalry with PC. The rivalry was all in the letter. Did you cheer for the B or the P? Fans from both teams could go to home and away games. It was great.
Slowly, but surely, the Big East teams that had football and basketball teams began to jump ship. Syracuse and UConn were the final nails in the Big East coffin. I know they may still be using the name, but the games and rivalries are done. Syracuse and Georgetown will only play because they used to be division rivals.
The games won’t have the same meaning. Even my love for PC basketball faded away when I went to college at instate rival URI. I am one of the biggest Lamar Odom fans there is!
In memory of the Big East’s last real Big East Tournament, I am putting together a list of the best players from each school in my lifetime. It’s perfect to go along with the final real Big East Tournament.
I am only taking players from the teams that started the Big East, along with Villanova and Pittsburgh. Hopefully, this list will bring some of you back to your childhood, just like it did mine!
I know all of you are thinking that I am crazy, but Mark Jackson was unbelievable at St. John’s. Chris Mullin went on to have the best NBA career and might have even had the better college career, but I saw Mark Jackson play a couple times and it was like watching poetry in motion. So you can have Chris Mullin. I’ll take Mark Jackson.
Honorable Mention: Chris Mullin, Malik Sealy, and Walter Berry.
You might think that I am a huge Knicks fan or something. Ewing owned college basketball while he was there. He was the Michael Jordan of college basketball. He was the biggest thing and helped put Big East basketball on the map!
Honorable Mention: Reggie Williams, Alonzo Mourning, Dikembe Mutumbo and Allen Iverson
Yes, I know that Villanova won a title with other players, but KittlesKittles was awesome! I’m still shocked he never did anything in the NBA. Watching him go up against Ray Allen was college basketball magic!
Honorable Mention: Ed Pickney, Tim Thomas
Read my Top 11 NCAA Tournament Heroes and you’ll know why I pick Billy Donovan. As a kid shooting 3’s I was never Larry Bird because I was a Lakers fan. Magic didn’t shoot 3’s. So when I shot three pointers I was Billy Donovan!
Honorable Mention: Erik Murdock, Michael Smith, Dinkey Simpkins, Ryan Gomes, Austen Croshere, and Ernie “Pop” Lewis, simply for the name!
Walker is the best college basketball player that I got to watch in the past five years. He could take over a game whenever he wanted to and in unbelievable fashion he carried the Huskies to a Big East Tournament win AND the NCAA Title!
Honorable Mention: Ray Allen, Rip Hamilton, Khalid El-Amin, Emeka Okafur, Rudy Gay
This one was the first that was a no contest. Terry Dehere was the best Seton Hall player ever. He had some crazy games against Ray Allen. Much like Kerry Kittle, Dehere sort of just went away when it came to the NBA. I remember him playing in the D-League and being shocked that he couldn’t make it.
Honorable Mention: NO ONE!
Not a college photo, but too good to pass up!
This was the hardest one to choose. Carmelo Anthony was only there for one season, but he did win an NCAA Championship. Sherman Douglas? Rony Seikaly? Pearl Washington? Gerry Mac? Billy Owens? It could have been any of those guys. Coleman was the best player to come out of Syracuse. A No. 1 draft pick and the main reason they were so dominant in the late ’80s. Coleman was always one of my favorite players to watch.
Honorable Mention: Sherman Douglas, Rony Seikaly, Pearl Washington, Gerry McNamara, Bill y Owens, Wesley Johnson
“Send it in, Jerome!” Any college basketball player that could break a backboard was awesome to me. I remember him dunking that ball like it was yesterday because they were playing PC. Jerome Lane was supposed to be Charles Barkley, but he faded into nothing. While in college, he was an absolute BEAST though.
Honorable Mention: Charles Smith, DeJuan Blair, Brandin Knight
I remember that once Barros crossed half-court, you had to cover Barros because he was the first point guard that would literally shoot the ball from any spot on the court. He was the only reason to watch BC basketball in those days. He made what should have been a horrible team into a very competitive team. BC was always the team I loved to hate when I was kid.
Honorable Mention: Bill Curley, Troy Bell, Scoonie Penn, Jared Dudley
Hopefully, you enjoyed this look back into Big East Tournament lore — even if you disagree with all of my choices for best players from each team! Tweet at me @YetiVedder with your picks!