Friday, March 17, 2023

Friday Five: My Five Favorite College Basketball Players

I love watching March Madness. It's not always kind to me, but it's still one of the best sporting events around. This year, I have a few different rooting interests that are floating around in both the men's and women's tournaments. I thought it would be fun to post my favorite college basketball players for this week's Friday Five post.

Unfortunately, not all of these players have cards.  

Honorable Mention - Elissa Cunane - NC State 2018-2022 

The best sports team at NC State over the past decade has been the women's basketball team. They are consistently ranked, play at a high level, and compete for titles at both the conference and national level. Elissa Cunane was their center the last few years and was a big part of the reason the team won three consecutive ACC Championships. She's a skilled big person who scored around the basket, but also shot three pointers and could run the floor. Elissa was drafted by an WNBA team, but ended up playing this past year in Europe. The Wolfpack women's team is playing Princeton in the first round of the NCAA tournament. A bit of a down year without Elissa this year.  

Honorable Mention - Lorenzo Brown - NC State 2010-2013 

NC State was horrible while I was in school there. The team was coached by Sidney Lowe, who was the point guard on the 1983 National Championship team. The biggest problem was that he could not develop a point guard. The last year I was in college and Sidney Lowe coached State, he brought in Lorenzo Brown as the team's star recruit. Too bad Sidney got fired, because he actually got a good point guard with Lorenzo.   

I am not going to go look up his stats, because they don't matter. Lorenzo Brown just played basketball the right way. He was good on defense, great passer, and he scored when the team needed some points. If you made a list of the attributes for the ideal college point guard, Lorenzo Brown would have them all. The team ended up making a Sweet 16 run while he was there. 

Not as flashy as some of the other players on this list, but still ended up playing in the NBA for a few years with the Toronto Raptors.  Lorenzo is also on the Puerto Rican National Team has had some big games in World Cup and Olympic-type events.  

5. Cat Barber - NC State 2013-2016 

Cat deserved better. He was a great player who was at NC State while the team was filled with underachievers and crappy coach. Cat is from the Hampton Roads region in southeast Virginia, same as Allen Iverson. As shifty, quick point guards, the two drew a lot of comparisons. In my opinion, the comparison hurt Cat. He got a bad rep at times and it was not deserved. Cat grew a lot as a player during his years in Raleigh and ended up averaging 23 points per game and almost 5 assists per game their senior year. Cat was a dominant college player who probably could have done a lot of damage in the NCAA Tournament with a better coach who could have utilized the supporting cast a little better.  

Cat was drafted by the 76ers, but never really stuck in the NBA. He played a few games with the Atlanta Hawks, but has been a fixture in the G League and Europe. Panini made a bunch of cards of Cat when he was first drafted, almost all NC State cards. The Panini cards list him as "Anthony Barber", but he signed all of his autographs as just "Cat".  

4. Markell Johnson - NC State - 2016-2020 

Markell does not have a basketball card, which stinks. Of the players who have been at NC State under their current coach, Kevin Keatts, Markell Johnson is my favorite player. He stayed in college all four years, did not transfer, and got better every year he was in college. Best thing about Markell was that he showed up in big ways when State played big games. 

Markell was a great passer. He averaged more than 5 assists per game for his college career and is third all-time in school's history. Markell also has 4 of the 10 highest assist games in the history of the school.  He's not in the NBA or G League, but has spent time playing professionally in Turkey.  

3. William "Bud" Eley - Southeast Missouri State 1995-1999 

The Ohio Valley Conference has Belmont, Murray State, and Austin Peay. It's a tough league. Southeast Missouri is always a step below those schools, which stinks when you're a conference that only sends one team to the NCAA Tournament. While I was in school there, the team had Bud Eley. He was a 6'10 center who was an all-conference player three years, conference player of the year. He led the conference in scoring, rebounds, and block shots. I believe he lead Division I basketball in double-doubles his last two years. If you went to a SEMO basketball game in the late 1990s, Bud was going to score his points, get his rebounds, and block a bunch of shots. Was anyone else going to help him?  

Depends on the night.  

Bud never made the NCAA Tournament.  

Thanks, Murray State. 

Bud Eley never played in the NBA, but had a long career playing in Spain. He even has basketball cards, but I cannot find any of them online. Panini has made several sets for the ACB, Spanish Pro League, and Eley has cards in the set.  

Southeast Missouri did make the tournament this year.  

They did not win their game in the First Four against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, and their mascot may or may not have broken a Pitt Panthers sign in the arena.   

2. Anthony Peeler - Missouri - 1988-1992 

Anthony Peeler rolled out of bed in the morning and was good for 20 points. I grew up watching the Norm Stewart era Mizzou teams, there were other good players, but Peeler was the best of the group. Peeler could shoot from the perimeter or drive to the basket. I know Doug Smith was at Mizzou around the same time as Peeler, but he did not have the excitement factor of Peeler. He could do it all and won Big 8 Conference Player of the Year in 1992.  

Anthony Peeler played in the NBA for a long time and has a lot of basketball cards. I like this 1994 Topps cards with Charles Barkley's head in the background. Peeler's crowning achievement as an NBA player was probably punching Kevin Garnett in the face during a playoff series game 6 in 2004. 

Peeler and Garnett were teammates for a few years on the Timberwolves.  

1. T.J. Warren - NC State - 2013-2014
Long ago, when players stayed in school for four years, T.J. Warren would have set every offensive record at NC State. He played two years at State, didn't start his freshman year, and still averaged 12 points per game. In his sophomore year, Warren averaged 25 a game and was the ACC Player of the Year and a consensus All-American. Warren is a bit of a throwback with most of his points coming on runners and mid-range jumpers.

T.J. is still playing in the NBA with the Phoenix Suns. He's been injury-prone as a pro, but still has his good scoring touch. For his career, T.J. is averaging a little over 25 minutes per game while scoring 15 points per game. 


  1. As much as I have enjoyed March Madness over the past several decades... I've gotta admit I don't think I have ever sat down and though about my favorite college basketball players. Some names from the early to mid 90's era come to mind like Bo Kimble, Sean Elliott, and Jason Kidd.

    1. I made a list of my favorite college basketball players a week ago. It was 30 names. I put the list in my pocket and looked at it from time to time over the past few days and got rid of people. It was really tough. Still have a few players from various points in my life who could easily be here.