Big Dance One-Hit Wonders: Where Are They Now
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The 75th anniversary of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament provides more reason than usual to think about the shooting stars the Big Dance has produced over the years. We update the current whereabouts of 30 one-hit wonders who helped make March Madness what it is today.
“You’ve been Pittsnogled!” became a widely used rallying cry in college basketball in the mid-2000s. That’s when a heavily tattooed, homegrown, 6-foot-11 forward for the Mountaineers with a deft touch outside and inside — and an unmistakable last name — helped lead a seemingly undermanned WVU team to the 2005 Elite Eight and 2006 Sweet Sixteen.
Pittsnogle last played professionally in 2012 with the Eastern Basketball Alliance’s Winchester Storm. Now 28, he currently works as a sales consultant for Miller’s Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram in his hometown of Martinsburg, WV. He lives there with his wife, Heather, and their two children.
A transfer from USC, Kimble provided somes the tournament’s most indelible moments in 1990 by shooting the first free throw of each game left-handed in honor of best friend and LMU teammate Hank Gathers, who died of a heart condition during that year’s WCC tournament. Kimble made each of his southpaw free throws as the 11th-seeded Lions enjoyed a storybook run to the Elite Eight.
Kimble was the eighth overall pick in the 1990 NBA Draft, only to have injuries plague his pro career. Now living in North Wales, PA, he runs the “44 for Life” heart disease awareness foundation — so named as to honor the late Gathers’ jersey number — and has recently tried breaking into coaching. He is an unpaid assistant at Shoreline (WA) Community College.
In northwest Indiana (and sometimes elsewhere), Bryce Drew’s game-winning, buzzer-beating trey for No. 13 seed Valparaiso against Ole Miss in a 1998 first-round game is simply called “The Shot.” It’s so well-known to the masses that it has its own Wikipedia page. And people often forget that Drew also spearheaded an upset of Florida State in the next round that sent the Crusaders to their only Sweet Sixteen in school history.
Fifteen years later, Drew and his alma mater are dancing again. After taking the reins at Valpo following his father Homer’s retirement in 2011, Bryce — an assistant coach under his dad from 2005–2011 — has guided the Crusaders to their first Big Dance berth since 2004.
Despite his worldly-sounding name, Farokhmanesh — whose father is Iranian — was a homegrown (Iowa City, IA) product for the Panthers. Never one to turn down a shot he didn’t like, it was Farokhmanesh who helped Northern Iowa beat UNLV in the first round and stun top-seeded Kansas, 69–67, in the second round in 2010. His gutsy (some would say insane) 3-pointer with under 40 seconds remaining gave UNI a 66-62 lead over KU and is now a part of tournament lore.
The Sports Illustrated cover boy for March 29, 2010, Farokhmanesh has played professionally the past three years in both Switzerland and Austria. Currently in the latter country with WBC Raiffeisen Wels, he is averaging 13.7 PPG on 52.6% shooting (including 40.5% from three).
When he decided to play college ball at Princeton in the mid-1990s, Lewullis did so with his education as the foremost priority. Never in a million years did he imagine that he’d be largely responsible for one of the biggest first-round upsets ever.
Yet there he was as a true freshman in 1996, banking in a layup off a backdoor cut — the staple of his school’s eponymous offense — to shock defending champion and No. 4 seed UCLA, 43–41. Even as he’s become an accomplished orthopedic surgeon in the Philadelphia area, that basket remains Lewullis’ calling card.
This surefire entry on college basketball’s All-Name Hall of Fame was more than just a memorable name. He was a star for the Cowboys, leading the No. 12 seed to the 1987 Sweet Sixteen — including a second round triumph over Reggie Miller and UCLA in which Dembo scored 41 points in an upset win — while averaging a tournament-leading 27.8 PPG.
Dembo’s appearance on the 1987–1988 college basketball preview issue of Sports Illustrated was the first ever by a Wyoming athlete and preceded a seven-year professional career (1988–1995). Dembo is now back in his native San Antonio with hopes of finishing his college degree, obtaining a master’s or Ph.D. in civil engineering and becoming a university professor.
The 1987 Final Four was a special one for Smart for many reasons. There was his game-winning shot in the waning moments of the championship game, which earned him MOP honors. He became a March Madness legend in New Orleans’ Superdome, not far from his hometown of Baton Rouge. And he did so one year after he was plying his trade in obscurity at Garden City (KS) Community College.
After retiring as a player in 1997, Smart has devoted his life to coaching. He’s now in his first full season with the Sacramento Kings after taking over on an interim basis last January.
The gregarious senior center was the face of Cinderella Saint Mary’s run to the 2010 Sweet Sixteen. The "Sandman" dominated both Richmond (first round) and Villanova (second) to the tune of 61 combined points on 75% shooting (24-of-32) from the field. “Dominant” was also an apt descriptor for Samhan’s personality as he hammed it up for TV cameras and reporters alike.
Alas, Samhan’s performance that weekend three years ago wasn’t enough to get him drafted by an NBA team. He’s since tried to find a home overseas and he is now playing in Germany for Ratiopharm Ulm after previous stints in Lithuania and the Philippines.
It was 30 years ago that Charles’ buzzer-beating slam dunk finished NC State’s upset for the ages in the 1983 national title game against heavily-favored Houston.
Sadly, Charles — who played in six different countries during a 16-year professional career (1985–2001) — was killed in a June 2011 bus accident in Raleigh, NC, while working for the Elite Coach charter bus company. Up until his death, Charles was still enjoying his 15 minutes of fame.
Any conversation concerning the best names in sports is incomplete without the former Friars guard who pluckily led No. 10 seed Providence to the 1997 Elite Eight. In the national quarterfinals, the New York City product went toe-to-toe with Arizona’s Mike Bibby to the tune of 23 points and five assists in a 96-92 loss to the eventual national champs.
Somewhat foolishly, Shammgod declared for the NBA draft after that ’97 season. Even though he was selected by the Wizards in the second round, his NBA career amounted to just 20 games before embarking on a long, overseas odyssey. Shammgod is now back at his alma mater, finishing his degree and working as PC’s undergraduate student assistant coach.
While Villanova’s “Expansion Crew” of Ed Pinckney, Dwayne McClain and Gary McLain got most of the pub during the Wildcats’ unlikely run to the 1985 NCAA title, Jensen’s contributions aren’t to be taken lightly. The Trumbull, CT native — a Second Team All-Big East performer that season — scored 14 huge points (5-5 FGs, 4-5 FTs) in the title game upset of Georgetown.
A two-time First Team Academic All-American (1986 and 1987) with the Wildcats, Jensen now makes his home within shouting distance of his alma mater while working as the executive vice present at Sparks, a Philadelphia marketing firm.
The player nicknamed “The Show” put on just that for 14th-seeded Weber State against North Carolina in 1999. Facing a Final Four team from the year before, Arceneaux — a transfer from Midland (TX) Junior College — went off for 36 points in a 76–74 shocker that still gives Tar Heels fans nightmares. As analyst Kevin Harlan put it at the time, "The bar for heroism has just been raised!"
Fast approaching his 36th birthday on April 1st, Arceneaux is incredibly still playing in Mexico for Lechugueros de León after a career that has spanned the globe.
If it wasn’t for Casey Calvary, the slipper wouldn’t have still fit. It was the then-sophomore forward’s tip-in off a missed basket that finished 10th-seeded Gonzaga’s upset over Florida, 73–72, in the 1999 Sweet Sixteen.
The Tacoma, WA, native and his Bulldog teammates returned to the Sweet Sixteen each of the next two years (2000 and 2001) but Gonzaga has yet to return to the Elite Eight. Calvary earned First Team All-WCC honors in 2000 and '01 and was the conference’s player of the year as a senior. After a six-year pro career spent almost entirely overseas, he returned to Spokane, where he’s now the business development director at Baker Construction Company.
The New York transplant with the tiny nickname was huge for the Vikings in their first ever NCAA tournament appearance in 1986. He helped key 14th-seeded Cleveland State’s 83–79 upset of Indiana in the first round and 75–69 win over St. Joseph’s in the second. Only a last-second basket by Navy’s David Robinson in a 71–70, Sweet Sixteen loss prevented CSU from reaching the Elite Eight.
Still the school’s all-time leading scorer (2,256 points), McFadden was involved in an ugly lawsuit with his alma mater after CSU fired him from his job in the athletic department in 2003 — a firing McFadden alleged was racially motivated. He is now a nutrition specialist working for Cuyahoga (OH) County.
If a face had to be given to VCU’s unlikely run to the 2011 Final Four, it would be that of Joey Rodriguez, its heady 5-foot-10 point guard. In the Rams’ six NCAA tournament games — which included a "First Four" game against USC — the senior scored 54 points (9.0 PPG) and dished out 46 assists (7.7 APG) while turning it over just 12 times (2.0 TPG).
After spending the 2011–2012 season playing professionally in Puerto Rico, Rodriguez joined the men’s basketball staff at UCF — not far from his hometown of Merritt Island, FL — as the Knights’ assistant video coordinator last September.
Twenty years ago this March, the George Washington Colonials reached the Sweet Sixteen before falling to the Fab Five. The catalyst: Dare, a 7-footer from Nigeria who averaged 13.7 PPG, 10.2 RPG and 2.4 RPG during his two seasons in Foggy Bottom and appeared on his way to becoming the next Dikembe Mutombo.
He entered the NBA with high expectations as the 14th overall pick by the New Jersey Nets, but an ACL injury sustained as a rookie would torpedo his career. Dare sadly died of a heart attack when he was just 31 years old in January of 2004.
Coaching in his first Sweet Sixteen game in 1990, Jim Calhoun needed a miracle with his UConn team trailing Clemson, 70–69, and just one second remaining. Calhoun got one when Scott Burrell lofted a length-of-the-court pass to Tate George, who came down with the pass before swishing a turnaround jumper as time expired. To make it sweeter for George, he did it at the Meadowlands in his home state of New Jersey.
These days, however, that shot must feel like a lifetime ago. Now 44, George was indicted on four counts of wire fraud in conjunction with a $2 million Ponzi scheme last March - charges that carry a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.
Ivy champions are normally one-and-done in the Big Dance, but the 1979 Penn team led by Bronx native Tony Price was different. The Ivy League Player of the Year after averaging 19.8 PPG and 8.7 RPG, Price guided the Quakers to upsets of Iona, North Carolina, Syracuse and St. John’s before succumbing to eventual national champion Michigan State in the Final Four.
Price’s NBA career lasted just five games with the Clippers in 1980, but he eventually settled into a solid career on Wall Street for an insurance brokerage. In addition, he experienced the joy of watching his son A.J. reach the 2009 Final Four with UConn exactly 30 years after Penn’s unlikely run.
Forrest’s nickname is not “Holy mackerel!” although it might as well be. His catch-and-heave 3-pointer with eight tenths of a second left, which sent No. 7 Georgia Tech over second-seeded USC in the second round of the ’92 tourney, is now legendary — as is late color commentator Al McGuire’s on-air reaction.
A two-time First Team All-ACC performer (1994 and 1995), Forrest played professionally in eight different countries from 1995–2006. He now runs an eponymous AAU basketball team in his hometown of Atlanta.
Dayton’s Flyers reached lofty heights with their Cinderella run to the 1984 Elite Eight (where they lost to eventual champion Georgetown). It was due in large part to Chapman, a prolific scorer who torched second-seeded Oklahoma for 41 points in an 89–85 second round victory.
Nearly 30 years after he graduated, Chapman remains UD’s all-time leading scorer (2,233 points). He has returned to Dayton each of the past two years to promote the Big Dance’s “First Four” games and works the rest of the year as a middle school social studies teacher on an Indian reservation in Rapid City, SD.
Trevor Huffman (Kent State): Huffman led the Golden Flashes to the 2002 Elite Eight and is now a pro basketball and sports performance trainer/coach in Detroit.
Patrick O’Bryant (Bradley): The dominant center who powered the Braves to the 2006 Sweet Sixteen is playing in Lithuania. The ninth overall pick in the 2006 NBA Draft is averaging just 5.4 PPG for Lietuvos rytas.
Petey Sessoms (Old Dominion): Outdueling Villanova star Kerry Kittles to the tune of 35 points in the 1995 first round, Sessoms works as a supervisor for the United States Postal Service in North Hollywood, as of 2010.
Mike Gansey (West Virginia): The hero of the Mountaineers’ second round, double OT upset of Chris Paul-led Wake Forest in 2005 is back in his hometown as the Cleveland Cavaliers’ director of D-League operations.
Ty Rogers (Western Kentucky): The Hilltoppers’ buzzer-beating, 3-point-making hero against Drake in 2008 is a cardiovascular account specialist at AstraZeneca, serving the Bowling Green, KY, area.
Curtis Blair (Richmond): Arguably the best player on a Spiders team which, in 1991, became the first No. 15 seed to defeat a No. 2 seed (Syracuse), Blair is in plain sight as an NBA referee.
Jai Lewis (George Mason): George Mason’s emotional leader during its memorable run to the 2006 Final Four is playing professionally for Japan’s Hitachi Sunrockers, for whom he is averaging 12.6 PPG this season.
U.S. Reed (Arkansas): The Razorback whose desperation half-court heave downed defending champion Louisville in the 1981 second round is a real estate investor and ordained minister in his hometown of Pine Bluff, AR.
Posted: March 18, 2013