The best projects are often collaborations. So when I was asked to come up with a bracket pitting the best players ever to play New England college basketball against one another, I reached out to the two people I know with the most knowledge about the subject. I sent a note to Globe sports editor Joe Sullivan and the great Bob Ryan asking for their input. If they had time, I wrote, I'd love a little feedback.
"Ryan just called me," Sullivan said some 20 minutes after receiving my e-mail. "He's in. He said, [in excited Bob Ryan voice] 'Don't let him do anything until I get there!'"
Both Bob and Joe were incredibly helpful, giving more of their time and effort than could have been expected. It was clear from the start this wasn't a chore for them. These are two guys who live and breathe college hoops.
A little bit about the process. Ryan pored over college media guides and came up with the initial list of over 100 players. The three of us then sat down and pared the list to 64 (honorable mentions are below). Like a true selection committee chairman, Sullivan then led the painstaking process of seeding. There was lots of healthy debate. Ryan wanted some way to make Terry Driscoll a No. 1 seed. Sullivan insisted we include Billy Donovan as a 16. My contributions were limited to suggesting players from mid-90's Big East teams to the present, and to orchestrating the diabolical 8-9 matchup of J.J. Barea vs. Jeremy Lin.
We're as happy as we can be with the results. In any ranking like this, the 65th man is going to feel left out. Several players made the initial list and were then removed when a more deserving player was added. There were more talented players to play for New England colleges than there was room in the bracket.
The New England's Best College Baller Showdown launched March 17. Check out the bracket here.
First-round voting is Sunday-Monday, followed by Round 2 on Tuesday, Round 3 on Wednesday, Round 4 on Thursday and Round 5 runs March 22-23. The final showdown begins Sunday, March 24 and voting ends March 25 at 11 p.m.
The winner will be revealed on March 26.
In no particular order, here is the list of honorable mentions:
Jim Hooley, Gerry Ward, Billy Evans, Willie Wolters, Ernie Cobb, John Garris, Jay Murphy, Howard Eisley, Dick (Moose) Moreshead, James Garvin, Steve Wright, Randy Cross, Kevin Thomas, Drederick Irving, Bill Corley, Earl Kelley, Chris Smith, Donny Marshall, Caron Butler, Charlie Villanueva, Josh Boone, Joey Whelton, Travis Knight, Kevin Ollie, Tate George, Tony George, Joey DeSantis, James Brown, Joe Carrabino, Dan Clemente, Keith Sedlacek, Arnie Berman, Mike Cinigser, Chris Dudley, Johnny Lee, Jim Morgan, Keith Hochstein, Mike Vicens, Ed Siudut, Rob Feaster, Billy Tindall, Harper Williams, Mark Halsel, Harry Barnes, Leo Osgood, Dave Caligaris, John Clark, Derrick Lewis, Rick Weitzman, Mike Riordan, Vinnie Ernst, Ray Flynn, Kevin Stacom, Eric Murdock, Joey Hassett, Jim Larranaga, Marty Conlon, Eric Williams, Bruce Campbell, Jamell Thomas, Marsho Brooks, Austin Croshere, Carlton Owens, Kenny Green, Art Stephenson, Antonio Reynolds-Dean, and Steve Chubin.
We hope you have as much fun with this as we did.
- Michael Vega
- Mark Blaudschun
- Nancy Marrapese-Burrell