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Old 03-02-2010, 03:53 AM   #1
Dizzle-2k7
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Default Greatest WALK-ONs ever?

Discuss...I love underdog stories..
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Old 03-02-2010, 04:10 AM   #2
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Default Re: Greatest WALK-ONs ever?

I don't know who is the greatest, but here's a great story.

Quote:
So I'm flipping around channels on the hotel TV late Thursday night and come across the last few minutes of the Syracuse-Connecticut Big East Tournament game.

The score is close, and since I love the final minutes of college basketball games I decide to stick around and see who pulls out the win.

Little did I realize that I'd have to wait until close to 1:30 in the morning to get my answer.

Six overtimes and nearly four hours after it started, No. 20 Syracuse pulled out an a 127-117 win over No. 4 Connecticut. It was one of the most amazing college basketball games I've ever seen, and well worth every bit of lost sleep.

Sometime around the fifth overtime, I hear the announcers say that another Syracuse player had just fouled out. Coming into the game to replace him was a young man named Justin Thomas. Thomas, they point out, is a walk-on. He's only played 21 minutes all season, and now is coming in to be one of the five Syracuse players on the court that will determine whether they win or lose one of the most epic battles in Big East college basketball history.

"Wow", I think to myself, "that sure goes to show you how important good walk-ons are for a program."

Little did I know everything Thomas had been through to get to this point.

He was a star basketball player in Los Angeles heading into his junior year and getting attention from all the big west coast programs.

Some analysts said he might be one of the best guards to come out of the area in decades. Then, playing a pick-up football game at lunch, he breaks is fibula and tears all of the ligaments in his ankle. He's out for his junior year. Then, ten games into his senior season, he breaks his hand going for a steal in a game. Two surgeries on his severely injured hand later, his high school career was over.

All of the recruiting letters stopped. He finds himself at Syracuse and tries to walk-on as as freshman. He doesn't make it...no guard spots are available, and Coach Jim Boeheim isn't willing to make an exception.

Thomas heads home and worked out all summer in the hopes of making the USC Trojans roster.

No luck.

Thomas heads back to Syracuse for his sophomore year intent on making the team this time, but knowing in his heart that if he didn't he probably would throw in the towel.

This time around, Syracuse says yes. Thomas is a walk-on at Syracuse.

Just when things were looking up, Thomas was injured again. He slipped on some ice on camus and is forced to sit out in the middle of the season. Luckily, He recovered in time for the tournament.

Walk-on athletes play a unique role in college recruiting and in college programs. Some stay in the shadows their entire college careers, and others are given opportunities that can only be defined as being in the right place at the right time. We as fans who follow college sports love to point out when a star player started his career at the bottom as a walk-on.

Back to the Syracuse-Connecticut game: Here's Thomas walking on to the court, and Coach Boeheim (understandably) doesn't have an overly confident look in his eyes as he sees his often-injured walk-on getting ready for one of the biggest pressure situations any college player could face.

Thomas, on the other hand, looked confident and fully aware of what he needed to do. He needed to get out there and show the world, and himself, that all of his incredibly hard work and dedication was worth it.

If you read the box score from the game, Justin Thomas' line isn't going to impress you all that much: Seven minutes of playing time, a rebound, and a blocked shot. No points, no shots taken.

But he played well, and did what he had to do as part of a team. Thomas was sent into battle with all of 21 minutes of college playing time under his belt. And he played like a seasoned pro.

In working with college programs around the country, it always surprises me how random walk-on players' opportunities tend to be. One coach described his walk-ons as "necessary evils", another admitted that her walk-ons were all coached by her assistants because she just didn't have the time to devote to them like she would with her scholarship players.

Those coaches are missing the big lessons that Thursday's game should teach every coach in the country. In the same way Justin Thomas should inspire student-athletes who are clawing their way into college sports through the walk-on process.

Thomas' important role down the stretch in Syracuse's amazing six-overtime Big East tournament win over Connecticut should remind college coaches just how important these players are in determining the success of their programs
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Old 03-02-2010, 07:49 AM   #3
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Default Re: Greatest WALK-ONs ever?

Rudy! Rudy! Rudy!
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Old 03-02-2010, 09:15 AM   #4
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Default Re: Greatest WALK-ONs ever?



scottie pippen.
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Old 03-02-2010, 12:27 PM   #5
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Default Re: Greatest WALK-ONs ever?

I believe Jeff Hornacek was a walk on at Iowa State.

And Rodman I think too?
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Old 03-02-2010, 05:18 PM   #6
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Default Re: Greatest WALK-ONs ever?

Quote:
Originally Posted by gotbacon23


scottie pippen.

A 6 or 7 inch growth spurt once he got into college helped him out quite a bit. Even still, I don't think most of us ever imagined him being an NBA top 50 player.
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Old 03-02-2010, 05:23 PM   #7
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Default Re: Greatest WALK-ONs ever?

Quote:
Scottie Maurice Pippen was born on September 25, 1965, in Hamburg, AR (Ashley County) to Preston and Ethel Pippen, the youngest of their twelve children. Pippen’s father worked at a paper mill until a stroke forced him to retire when Pippen was fourteen. Pippen played baseball and football as well as basketball, but the athletes he most admired and wanted to imitate were basketball stars such as Julius Erving. Pippen was determined to succeed at basketball, but he was only 6'1" and 150 pounds as a high school senior. Although he led Hamburg High School to the state regional playoffs and was named to the all-conference team, no colleges recruited him or offered him a basketball scholarship. As a favor to his high school coach, Pippen was offered a position with the basketball team at the University of Central Arkansas (UCA) in Conway (Faulkner County). This offer was not for a playing position but as student manager of the basketball team.

During his four years at UCA, Pippen grew to 6'7" and 210 pounds. He also grew in skill and experience as a basketball player. Used even in his freshman season because of openings on the team, Pippen eventually played all five positions on the team. Though the UCA Bears won conference championships his junior and senior years, and he was twice voted onto the NAIA All-America team, Pippen feared that he would not be noticed by NBA scouts because his team failed to advance into post-season tournaments. His versatility, though, and his performance at pre-draft NBA tryouts, sufficed to attract the attention of several professional teams, including the Chicago Bulls. Negotiating a trade with the Seattle Supersonics, the Bulls managed to add Pippen to their team, making him the fifth player overall chosen in the 1987 draft.

Only got a spot on the UCA squad as a favor to his high school coach and even then it was only as a student manager. Then he turns into arguably one of the 30 best players in the history of the game.
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Old 03-02-2010, 05:27 PM   #8
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Default Re: Greatest WALK-ONs ever?

Quote:
Originally Posted by KG215
Only got a spot on the UCA squad as a favor to his high school coach and even then it was only as a student manager. Then he turns into arguably one of the 30 best players in the history of the game.

Kinda makes you wonder how many guys weren't able to get that opportunity and their talent went unnoticed.
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Old 03-02-2010, 05:44 PM   #9
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Default Re: Greatest WALK-ONs ever?

Quote:
Originally Posted by wang4three
Kinda makes you wonder how many guys weren't able to get that opportunity and their talent went unnoticed.

Yeah it does. Few ball players are late bloomers and really bloom their first or second year in college, but there are guys who's game goes to the next level in college. For whatever reason whether they grow in height or become a lot more athletic compared to when they were in high school, or simple just start taking the game of basketball more seriously.

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Old 03-02-2010, 05:52 PM   #10
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Default Re: Greatest WALK-ONs ever?

Quote:
Originally Posted by wang4three
Kinda makes you wonder how many guys weren't able to get that opportunity and their talent went unnoticed.


I'm sure there have been others over the course of time, but like I said, Pippen shot up 6 inches in college, and kept his guard skills. He was already a pretty good high school player who just didn't do enough to get noticed by anyone. I was very young when Pippen was at UCA but do remember going to watch im play once. One of my best friends dad was an assistant on the UCA staff at the time Pippen was there and his dad said it was pretty obvious Pippen had all the tools and talent to be great in the NBA. He said Pippen just dominated the competition UCA faced. He averaged 24 pts, 10 boards, 4 assists, and 3 steals his senior year, and shot a shade under 60% from the floor. His freshman year he only averaged 4 points and 3 boards a game, but that was in spot duty.
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Old 03-02-2010, 05:54 PM   #11
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Default Re: Greatest WALK-ONs ever?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Birmingham1955
Yeah it does. Few ball players are late bloomers and really bloom their first or second year in college, but there are guys who's game goes to the next level in college. For whatever reason whether they grow in height or become a lot more athletic compared to when they were in high school, or simple just start taking the game of basketball more seriously.

I'll preface this by saying I never was nor did I become some great talent, but I can attest to this. I was a pretty decent high school player and was good enough to get some offers from some D2 and NAIA schools. I was still "young" and raw though, 6'3" 170. I ended up just going to school and not play ball anywhere but I grew to 6'5" by my second year of college and filled out to about 210 pounds, and my game really improved.
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Old 03-02-2010, 10:34 PM   #12
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Default Re: Greatest WALK-ONs ever?

C.J. Lee (pg for michigan last year) was a backup guard on Manhattan, and his sophomore year he was offered a preferred walk-on spot at Michigan. He ended up getting a scholarship and starting his senior year.

Definitely not the best walk-on but still amazing nonetheless.
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Old 03-02-2010, 11:59 PM   #13
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Default Re: Greatest WALK-ONs ever?

i think scottie pippen's basketball story to fame, is way more inspirational then the hollywood michael "i got cut from my high school team" jordan. Guy played for North Carolina, and was the MVP in the all-american game,
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Old 03-03-2010, 12:39 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LebrickJames84'
i think scottie pippen's basketball story to fame, is way more inspirational then the hollywood michael "i got cut from my high school team" jordan. Guy played for North Carolina, and was the MVP in the all-american game,

You could definitely make a good movie out of Pippen's story. Youngest of 12 kids. From small rural town in Arkansas. Only got a spot as equip. manager at a NAIA school. Goes on to be the best sidekick of all-time and a top 50 player. Not sure why no one has picked up on this as a movie idea.
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Old 03-03-2010, 10:00 PM   #15
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Default Re: Greatest WALK-ONs ever?

Mark Titus without a doubt. Don't believe me check out this

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5V6FCitvRUM

P.S. the lightning is real

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