Sunday, April 5, 2020

Weekend Countdown: My Favorite College Basketball Cards

This was the weekend that we were supposed to be watching the NCAA Final Four.  I spent my weekend sorting cards, planning some online lessons for my students, and also wrangling my own kids.  Somewhere in there, I had a little bit of time to sort through my basketball cards.  

Here is this week's single rules:  

  • Cards have to show the player in their college uniform, no airbrushed out logos, or NBA cards. 
  • Multiple universities are represented on my list, it's not just my 10 favorite NC State cards.  

Let's go.  

10. 2009-2010 Upper Deck Brandon Costner 

He played at NC State while I was in college there.  Good player.  He was a power forward who had a nice outside jumper, even shot some threes.  He ended up playing in Spain, China, and the G-League after college.  His claim to fame at NC State was that Tyler Hansbrough once got a technical foul for trying to slap him after grabbing a rebound.  


There is an autographed version of this card out there somewhere.  I don't own it.  

9. 2016-2017 NC State Basketball Card Set Dennis Smith 

There is a table at all of the NC State sporting events that is covered in posters, schedules, and all sorts of free stuff.  For a long time they gave away basketball cards, though they have stopped in recent years.  Generally they did one or two players per game, each player was available for a game or two.  

Here is the card.  

Never quite sure how to view Smith.  He was a great player, but State was a terrible team the year he played there.  Plus, he took money on the side from Adidas, and is likely going to get State put on probation here in the next year or two.  

8. 2012-2013 UD Black Lorenzo Brown Autograph 

Lorenzo was a freshman the last year that I was in college.  Great point guard.  Great vision.  He was on a team that ended up in the Sweet 16, and probably did not get the credit he deserved.  Plays like this......

Everyone is looking at the result, which was a dunk over a defender, but miss the fact that the pass was threaded through 3 defenders.  
This is a nice card.  

Lorenzo played on the 2018-2019 Toronto Raptors NBA Championship team, but has bounced around the NBA and a few other professional leagues.  I believe he played last season in Europe.  

7. 2009-2010 Upper Deck Courtney Fells Autograph 

The sad part about NC State's basketball team while I was in college was not the fact that they were bad, it was the fact that they were bad and they had talented players.  Courtney Fells only averaged a dozen points or so during his time playing in college, but he was the player on the team that would make plays that would have to watch a few times when you got home to figure out how he made the play.  

I have no idea how he blocked this shot.  

Fancy in game dunks.  Steph Curry bricks the shot that leads to this fast break.  


Loved watching Courtney play.  

6. 1995 Classic Rookies Autographs Erwin Claggett 

The last few years I was in high school, Saint Louis University was really good.  SLU played in the Kiel Center with the Blues, so there were always plenty of tickets.  They were coached by Charlie Spoonhour, who played four guards and a forward, and the offense relied heavily on three pointers.  They made the NCAA Tournament a few times, and played a really good game against Wake Forest in the second round while Tim Duncan was in school.  Claggett was one of the better players on the team.  I am not sure if I would classify him as a shooting guard or point guard, but he was a good player. 

I wouldn't watch the whole clip, but he is in here a few times if you watch it for a minute.  


I did not even know this card existed until a year or two ago, when I saw someone I follow for Cardinals cards tweeted out a picture of it.  I thought it might be a custom card of some sort.  Nope, it was real.  

5. 2017 Panini Contenders Dennis Smith Autograph 

Again, mixed feelings about Dennis Smith and his time at NC State, but this is the only college basketball card that I have ever really tried to chase down.  The rest of the cards on this list were just sort of there, and I bought them for small amounts of money.  This was an expensive card for a long time, and then he got traded to the Knicks.  

As the only college basketball card I have ever worked hard to add to my collection, I can rank this card in the middle of my list.  If NC State gets a punch of penalties, I will never speak of this card again.  

4. 1992 Classic Anthony Peeler 

I get frustrated talking to people in North Carolina about Anthony Peeler.  What do most people remember Anthony Peeler for?  Punching Kevin Garnett in the face.  


I assure people he was a great college player, not just an NBA role player who punched a really good player once during a playoff game.  He was the Big 8 Player of the Year, an All-American, and I believe he is the school's all-time leader in a few different categories, maybe steals and assists.  I think Steve Stipanovich might have scored more.  There is a name for you.  

Long highlight, but here he is dropping 43 on Kansas.  

and here is the card.  

I have no idea how his jersey is not retired, or honored by Mizzou.  

3. 2014-2015 SPX T.J. Warren Autograph 

Easily my favorite player I have watched at NC State. T.J. Warren won the ACC Player of the Year his sophomore year, which was his final year in college.  He scored a ton of points, that was his thing.  Warren was nicknamed "Tony Buckets: in college.  I don't think its stuck in the NBA.  Kind of a throwback player in that he scores a lot of his points on jumpers and runners inside the three point line, but he is not someone who is really aggressive driving at the rim. 

I think this basket kind of exemplifies what he does well.  He is doing this same stuff for the Indiana Pacers, only he's gotten better at shooting 3s since going pro.  Scores just under 20 a game in the NBA.  

This was one of my first cards I got of T.J. Warren 

2. 2016-2017 Panini Black Gold Collegiate Basketball Cat Barber Autograph 

Cat is my second favorite NC State player after T.J. Warren.  He was on a Sweet 16 team while he was at State.  Barber was the point guard on the team that upset Villanova, which led to the crying piccolo player.  


Barber was quick, had a nice jumper, and a good feel for the game.  

I think he is too small and slight for the NBA, but he has played professionally in Europe and the G League since leaving State.  Great college player though, and I am happy that Panini gave him a college basketball card.  

All of his autographed cards are signed "Cat".  

1. Upper Deck Exquisite Collection T.J. Warren Autograph 

I know there has already been a T.J. Warren card on the list, but this one is even nicer.  

Does anyone else collect college basketball cards?  

What are your favorite college basketball players?  


  1. Growing up... I loved rooting for the UNC Tarheels. Started a collection of autographs a few years ago, but haven't really added any new cards in years

    1. Can I sell you on a new basketball team? I have a really good Vince Carter story I need to post sometime.

    2. I don't really follow college hoops until March Madness... and at that point I either root for:

      A. Any Bay Area teams
      B. Any small schools
      C. Underdogs.