Video: Top 20 College Basketball Bench Celebrations
20. Sooner Strummers
In recent years, the great plays on the college basketball court have often been overshadowed by the delightfully over-the-top reactions to them from the bench. Here are our picks for the Top 20 Best College
Basketball Bench Celebrations. [Editor’s Note: Celebrations limited to last three years, since ex-Seton Hall player Peter Dill started the bench celebration craze in 2011 (more on him later).]
Oklahoma had four players on its bench to provide some imaginary instrumentation against Texas in January of 2013. Among them was Fran Fraschilla’s son James (far left), who provided some much-needed balance to the Sooners’ bench band by (from the looks of it) shredding on air bass while his three bandmates stuck with air guitar.
19. Hungry Hungry Jayhawk
One of the celebrations-du-jour during the 2012-2013 sports season, the “feed me” motion, was done sweet justice by Kansas’ Rio Adams during the 2013 Big 12 Tournament.
With the Jayhawks en route to an 88-73 win over Iowa State, Adams vigorously pretended to shovel food into his mouth. His over-the-top enthusiasm in comparison to his much-more-calm teammates in the background is a hilarious study in contrasts.
18. Swollen Orange
At 6-foot-1 and 178 pounds, Syracuse’s Griffin Hoffman is not was you would called “jacked.” But that didn’t stop him from doing his best Arnold Schwarzenegger-esque muscle flex during the Orange’s Elite Eight victory over Marquette last spring.
Adding to the goofiness of Hoffman’s antics is his curious decision to tuck his warmup jacket into his shorts.
17. Spartan Skip and Hop
If Michigan State forward Matt Costello is ever selected as a contestant on “The Price is Right,” he’ll take the stage armed with one hell of a celebration dance should he win the Showcase Showdown.
Costello’s girlish-looking leap and look of “Oh my God, what just happened?!” in response to Adrein Payne’s put-back dunk against Ohio State in January was priceless. Less so was ESPN’s Mike Tirico calling the celebration “unfortunate.” Don’t be a killjoy, Mike.
16. Jayhawk Pop and Lock
When you score a hard-fought road win over an in-state rival, sometimes you just want to boogie. Like the one Kansas benchwarmer who celebrated a big play during a 2013 win at Kansas State with an admirable rendition of the tried-and-true “pop and lock.”
The camera must have cut away before the “drop.”
15. Hair-Raisingly Awesome
Due to his Josh Childress-esque afro, Kevin Young stood out during the course of his Kansas career, even among several future NBA draft picks.
Young’s mouth-agape reaction to a big play during the Jayhawks’ heartbreaking loss to Michigan in last year’s Sweet Sixteen would’ve been okay if it wasn’t for the hair. But it’s made so much better with the afro, as it had the appearance of expanding mad scientist-style while Young was screaming in delight.
14. Dancing Up a Cyclone
Iowa State overcame a 12-point deficit in the second half to defeat Oklahoma in last year’s Big 12 Tournament. After Will Clyburn’s 3-pointer knotted the score at 60, one of his teammates celebrated by high-stepping until another player made him stop.
Perhaps he was just happy. Or a fan of those Russian folk dances. Or both.
13. Peter Dill: Son of Thor
It is largely because of Seton Hall’s Peter Dill that we pay attention to bench celebrations to begin with. A Pirates walk-on, Dill became known across the sport not because of anything he did on the court but due to how over-the-top his celebrations were.
Okay, so the aforementioned Dill isn’t actually the descendant of the Norse god of thunder. Should he ever be graced with similar divine powers, he’d hold his own wielding Thor’s hammer.
Dill used the hammer move several times to celebrate big shots during Seton Hall’s upset of eighth-ranked UConn in January of 2012. Good thing he stepped away from the Pirates bench to do so. If he was anywhere near one of his teammates, he might have taken an eye out.
12. One-Man Bakamus Band
Despite seeing the court for a mere 22 minutes of game time during his 2012-2013 freshman season, Gonzaga’s Rem Bakamus still found a way to leave an impression: With his first-rate air guitar celebration skills.
Bakamus “unveiled” the move after a big Bulldogs 3-pointer against Illinois. It was such a show-stopper that it’s easy to forget that the Zags lost that day.
11. Can't... Stop... Doing... The Monkey
Former San Diego State guard Chase Tapley is, perhaps, an old soul. While plenty of his counterparts across the sport celebrate with pops-and-locks and other, newer dance moves, Tapley celebrated a big play during last year’s Big Dance loss to Florida Gulf Coast by doing “The Monkey.”
Either that or someone from the stands hit him with that “Go-Go Ray” featured in a Bart dream sequence on “The Simpsons.”
10. Alley-Oop Delight
One of our first glimpses of “Dunk City” following Florida Gulf Coast’s dream run to the 2013 Sweet Sixteen came against Hartford in November. Nate Hicks’ alley-lop dunk in the 65-51 win was impressive but not out-of-this-world astounding.
Just don’t tell FGCU forward Marc-Eddy Norelia that. His joyous reenactment of the alley-oop’s pass and slam dunk suggested that he thought it was the greatest play in the history of basketball.
9. Hey Three Eyes!
Dorky kids are often teased with taunts of, “Hey four eyes!” We’d make a strong case that no awkward kid with glasses is even half as dorky as Butler reserve Andrew Smeathers was during the Bulldogs’ victory over Bucknell in the 2013 Big Dance.
When he’s celebrating with the time-worn 3 goggles, Smeathers’ face almost seems to say, “Hey guys, look at me, I’m doing the 3 goggles!” Good for you, Andrew (pat on the back).
8. We Need a Doctor!
Guard Xavier Thames and forward Skylar Spencer aren’t just key contributors for an excellent San Diego State squad this season. They’re also the best bench cheerleaders the Aztecs have.
After little-used Niksha Federico hit a three late in SDSU’s 90-64 rout of San Jose State last Tuesday, Spencer pretended to pass out in shock, after which Thames tried reviving Spencer by waving a towel and his arms over Spencer’s head. Take note: This was not the best celebration these two have even had this season.
7. Windmills of Happiness
Junior walk-on Pat Lenehan’s 3-pointer for UConn late in the Huskies’ 83-40 rout of South Florida earlier this season - Lenehan’s first made field goal of his college career - was an uplifting moment. Both for Lenehan and a Huskies team manager.
Said manager’s celebration dance brings to mind Bart Simpson’s “Double Windmill” move from “Lisa on Ice.” If you get hit, it’s your fault…
6. Hold Me Back, Bro!
Indiana’s bench had good reason to be excited on St. Patrick’s Day 2012, as Will Sheehey hit a clutch jumper with 11 seconds remaining that proved to be the difference in a 63-61 victory over VCU in the Big Dance’s Round of 32.
What’s great about the screaming Hoosiers benchwarmer that’s front and center of the GIF above is that even though he’s the one holding his teammates back, he’s probably the one that needs to be restrained the most. Moreover, the expression of the teammate to his right just screams, “Let go of me!”
5. The Champ is Here!
The celebration that first got Dill noticed came during the 2011 Big East Tournament, when he celebrated a late game-tying 3-pointer against Rutgers with an insanely enthusiastic take on Aaron Rodgers’ well-known title belt celebration.
Dill is the professor emeritus of bench celebrations.
4. Aztec Farmers
The bench shenanigans of Xavier Thames and Skylar Spencer weren’t restricted to the win over San Jose State last week.
Earlier this season Spencer was less basketball player and more farmer-like laborer. Against McNeese State on December 21st, he pushed Thames up the court by his legs as if they were participating in a wheelbarrow race.
Should the Aztecs go far in the Big Dance, cameras should be trained on these two at all times.
Photo: Christopher Hanewinckel/USA Today Sports
3. Kansas Kraziness
Like one of Stefon’s favorite clubs from his SNL “Weekend Updates,” the Kansas bench’s reaction to Tarik Black’s dunk against Texas on February 22nd “had everything.”
For starters, you had the entirety of the Jayhawks bench rising out of their seats in celebration. Then you had Wayne Selden (No. 1) leaping from chair to chair before jump-hugging an unsuspecting teammate. And finally, you had Naadir Tharpe (No. 10) doing a fine rendition of the “Chappelle’s Show” robot dance.
Just a great team effort all around.
2. From Eagles to Chickens
When we saw FGCU’s Christophe Varidel celebrating a big play in the Eagles’ upset of San Diego State in the NCAA tournament last year with an eagle dance that mimicked the Chicken Dance, we thought the move was unique to him.
But then we saw one of his teammates join in on the fun. Even better, when the final whistle had sounded, the entire FGCU team (including the team managers) got in on the action. What started out as a basketball game ended up as the dance floor at a wedding reception.
1. Medieval Times
Why do Villanova’s Henry Lowe and Patrick Farrell deserve the top spot? Because not only do we find their celebration during last March’s upset of fifth-ranked Georgetown to be the most enthusiastic, we also venture to guess that they put more planning into the celebration than anyone else on this list.
On the left you have Lowe on the bow and arrow. But that’s not all. There to make sure his shot is true is Farrell on the right, diligently staring through his spyglass.
Yes, it’s about as dorky as you can get. But simultaneously, it encapsulates everything we love about this era of over-the-top bench celebrations in college basketball.