THE ARCHIVES – Andre Emmett

December 13, 2010

Coached by Bob Knight, Andre Emmett developed into a star at Texas Tech. Source: Reuters

When Andre Emmett first committed to Texas Tech, basketball in Lubbock didn’t look like a platform to success.

The 6’5″ guard from the Big 12 capital (Dallas) could contribute immediately, but it probably wasn’t a lot of fun. Going 9-19 rarely is. However, Emmett earned 20 minutes a game and averaged 7.7 points.

Meanwhile, Bob Knight had recently been fired from his longtime coaching job at Indiana. Texas Tech was about to get a lot more relevant. Going into the 2001-02 season, a happy Knight had found a new home, and Red Raiders fans welcomed a basketball genius.

But Knight’s coaching could not bring back Texas Tech by itself. Significant to the programs’ gains was the development of Emmett, who increased his value and production as a sophomore to become arguably the team’s best player. Emmett shot 52% from the floor, an excellent percentage for a guard. Teaming up with Emmett was a freshman guard named Ronald Ross who would play a big role for Texas Tech in the future.

After winning just three conference games all year the season before, Tech started the year 13-1 and finished with 10 wins in league play. They earned a No. 6 seed in the NCAA tournament before losing to Southern Illinois in the first round.

Emmett grew into a Big 12 star his junior and senior seasons, averaging over 20 points a game both times and serving as Knight’s first go-to guy in Lubbock. That reliability is reflected in the conference’s all-time records for field goals and attempts, both of which Emmett still holds.

As a senior, Emmett joined Emeka Okafor and Jameer Nelson among the five consensus All-Americans for 2004. Nelson was part of the outstanding St. Joseph’s team which went undefeated in the regular season and knocked Texas Tech out in the NCAA’s second round. Okafor was named the most outstanding player for national champ UConn.

As has been the case for too many of the players profiled here in THE ARCHIVES, Emmett’s pro career has been disappointing. Emmett actually played very little in the NBA.

Very little meaning eight games for the Grizzlies.

Drafted by Seattle in the second round, he was traded to Memphis and then Miami. Emmett has dealt with what many star college guards face. They are skilled enough to be “scorers” at the college level but are not prolific 3 point shooters or unguardable ballhandlers at the pro level. 

Emmett has since traveled the world, playing in places like Lithuania, France, Belgium and China. He has tried, so far unsuccessfully, to get back to the NBA. Still, he is representative of Texas Tech’s rise as a Big 12 contender in the 2000s, and the Red Raiders would be better off these days if they had another player like him.

TECH’S TOP GUN: Andre Emmett is currently the all-time scoring leader for Texas Tech men’s basketball. He is the first player we’ve featured in THE ARCHIVES currently holding this distinction for his school.

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THE ARCHIVES – Wayne Simien

November 29, 2010

Worthy to be considered among the many great Kansas players of the last 15 years is Wayne Simien. The 6’9″ forward from Leavenworth, a quick trip from Lawrence in the eastern part of the state, played four years with the Jayhawks before a brief NBA and European career.

A member of the high school class of 2001 and a McDonald’s All-American, Simien managed to average 15 minutes and eight points per game as a freshman on a team steeped in talent like Nick Collison, Kirk Hinrich, Drew Gooden and fellow freshman Keith Langford. The Jayhawks were brilliant, spending most of the season ranked either first or second in the country. After losing to OU in the conference title game, they still entered the tournament a No. 1 seed. They avenged the previous year’s elimination to Illinois in the Sweet Sixteen before falling to Maryland in the Final Four. (Maryland won it all.)

Wayne Simien had a great career at Kansas, helping them to two Final Fours.

Simien was set to play an expanded role as a sophomore on another excellent team. He averaged nearly 15 points and eight rebounds per game, but unfortunately dislocated his shoulder part of the way through the year and missed the rest of the season.

We’ve seen major injuries to key players on good teams before and after this (Robbie Hummel, Kenyon Martin, Curtis Sumpter, etc.) with varying results. Kansas, it turned out, was still a great team and lost to Syracuse in the championship game by three. It’s the best championship game I’ve ever watched, but Kansas fans surely wonder how things might have been different with a healthy roster. (The parallel between this injury and the mid-season knee injury to Kentucky’s Derek Anderson in 1997 is striking in that both teams barely lost in the championship game.)

For Simien’s junior year, Bill Self replaced Roy Williams as coach and Simien averaged nearly 18 points and ten rebounds per game. But the Jayhawks were less talented than before, and entered the tournament 21-8. (Side note: They won the last game ever played at Missouri’s old arena, the Hearnes Center.) Still, they reached the Elite Eight before losing to Georgia Tech. 

Simien was awesome as a senior. He averaged a double-double (20 and 11), was the Big 12 Player of the Year and a first-team All-American. Kansas won its first 14 games on the way to a 23-6 record entering the Big Dance. Simien won’t want to remember anything after that however, as KU was memorably shocked in the first round by Bucknell, 64-63. 

Simien played four years at Kansas, but his pro career was brief. Source: Big Trout Online

Simply put, Simien’s pro career does not reflect how good he was in college. He played briefly for the Miami Heat, earning a championship ring for the Heat’s 2006 title season, but collected limited playing time. After getting traded to and then cut by the Timberwolves, he played in Spain for a year. He retired last year, and according to a feature in the Lawrence Journal-World, is pursuing a career as a minister.

LEAVING HIS MARK: Wayne Simien scored 1,593 points at Kansas. He was 12th on the school’s all-time list when he left Lawrence.


THE ARCHIVES – Marcus Fizer

November 22, 2010

Similar to OU, Iowa State saw its greatest Big 12 success so far around the early 2000s. The Cyclones were coached by Larry Eustachy, who replaced Tim Floyd in 1998 after Floyd left to coach the Chicago Bulls. The two most memorable Cyclones from back then are Jamaal Tinsley (a longtime Indiana Pacer who played last year with the Memphis Grizzlies) and his old teammate, Marcus Fizer.

Marcus Fizer teamed with fellow star Jamaal Tinsley to lead Iowa State to a 32-5 record in 1999-2000. Source: USA Today

Originally from Inkster, Mich., a Detroit suburb, Fizer came to Iowa State from Arcadia High School in Louisiana. He and Tinsley were both members of Iowa State’s 1997 recruiting class, so he played one year for Tim Floyd. The Cyclones had two rough seasons, finishing 11th and 9th in the league. However, Fizer had an impactful freshman year at forward, averaging just under 15 points and seven rebounds per game. He averaged 18 points and seven rebounds in 32 minutes per game as a sophomore for Eustachy.

The 1999-2000 season was wonderful for the Cyclones. Led by Fizer, who was scoring just under 23 points per game and was named Big 12 player of the year, Iowa State won a rare conference regular season title and also took the Big 12 tournament in Kansas City. The Cyclones were the No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament, and lost to No. 1 seed Michigan State (the eventual champion, led by its own duo of Mateen Cleaves and Morris Peterson) in the regional finals.

While Tinsley elected to stay in Ames for his senior year, Fizer declared for the NBA draft and signed an agent. He briefly re-united with his old coach Floyd as the Bulls selected him fourth overall in the 2000 draft. Fizer’s Bulls teams were miserably bad, never winning more than 30 games in any of his four years there. Meanwhile, the Tinsley-led Iowa State team had another strong season in 2001, entering the NCAA Tournament 25-5, again league regular season champs and a No. 2 seed. However, Fizer was missed in the tournament as Iowa State lost in the first round, shocked by 15 seed Hampton.

Fizer was named to the all-rookie second team in 2001, and his best season statisically came in 2001-02, when he averaged 12 points and almost six rebounds per game for the Bulls. After joining the Milwaukee Bucks’ roster in 2004-05, Fizer’s impact slipped. He played briefly there and with the New Orleans Hornets before going overseas to continue his career.

Fizer peaked professionally as a member of the very bad Chicago Bulls. Source: Hoopedia

Fizer has played with CB Murcia of Spain, Capitanes de Arecibo of Puerto Rico and then Israeli powerhouse Maccabi Tel Aviv as recently as 2008.


THE ARCHIVES – Kenton Paulino

November 15, 2010

T.J. Ford, LaMarcus Aldridge and Kevin Durant are among the most prominent Texas Longhorns to play for Rick Barnes. While Durant works on becoming an NBA superstar as a member of the Oklahoma City Thunder, Ford (Pacers) and Aldridge (Trail Blazers) are developing their abilities in the league as well.

A lesser-known but significant Longhorn from this decade was Kenton Paulino, who attended high school in Maine. Paulino played for Texas from 2002-2006, struggling with injuries throughout his stay in Austin. For most of that time he was a role player, averaging only six minutes per game as a freshman. He made 21 starts as a sophomore and averaged just under five points per game.

As a junior, Paulino rarely started but improved his shooting, making an impressive 48.3% of his 3-point shots. But Paulino’s most significant moment came as a senior, in the NCAA Sweet 16 against West Virginia.

While Paulino played a significant role for Texas, he was not good enough for the NBA, and his early professional career included a season with Beykozspor, a Turkish team in Istanbul, where he averaged 13 points a game. He also spent time with the Austin Toros of the D-League.

Paulino worked through frequent injuries to contribute for Texas. Source: Getty Images

More interestingly, Paulino spent his 2010 summer playing with the Belize national team, as he had in 2006. Paulino told a TV station this summer that he still hoped to continue his professional career.


THE ARCHIVES – Hollis Price

November 11, 2010

Since the formation of the Big 12 Conference, Oklahoma basketball achieved its most consistent success around the turn of the millenium. One of the key players of that era was Hollis Price, a 6’1” point guard from New Orleans.

Price spent four years in Norman but was not drafted in 2003. He has since traveled to Europe to play basketball professionally, and is currently a member of ALBA Berlin. One of his teammates is Lucca Staiger, who recently finished his college career at Iowa State. Price is a backup.

Price played for ALBA Berlin five years ago, and has played on six other European teams.

Coached by Kelvin Sampson, the Sooners made the NCAA Tournament all four seasons that Price was there (2000 through 2003). As a junior, Price was named Most Outstanding Player of the Big 12 Tournament as the Sooners beat Kansas for their second straight title. He led Oklahoma to its first Final Four since 1988.

Hollis Price helped OU to three conference tourney titles and a Final Four appearance.

The following year, the Sooners held off Missouri to win their third consecutive conference tournament title, and Price was again named MOP. Oklahoma made it to the NCAA regional finals as the No. 1 seed in the East before losing to the eventual national champion, Syracuse. Price was a second-team All-American.

Price ranks 7th in all-time scoring at Oklahoma with 1,821 points.

EURO TRIP: Price’s various teams have landed him in France, Germany, Spain, Lithuania, Russia, Italy and Germany again.