Saturday, July 15, 2017

DG169

Continuing our way too late look at the 2015-16 College Basketball season, in dread gallery #169 we'll begin taking a look at how the seniors did in the final year of their careers - and I'm talking about the seniors who had dreads throughout their careers, not the one-year wonders we saw in DG167. Then in the second half of DG169 we'll look at some players with dreads - most of them not seniors - who played on teams where at least two of their teammates also had dreads.


















1. He may not have been one of the best players with dreads, but Marshall G Justin Edmonds certainly was one of the players with the best dreads. Edmonds, a 6-4, 227-pounder, looks to makes his move against G Robert Hubbs (left photo) and defends a shot by G Kevin Punter (right photo) on Nov. 19 as Marshall, instead of playing a cupcake at home, opened the season with a tough road game against Tennessee. Edmonds finished with 11 points, 3 rebounds, and 5 assists in the Thundering Herd's 84-74 loss. He played 31 minutes that night; and apparently the coach staff must not have liked what they saw - because he didn't play more than 16 minutes in any game for the rest of the season. The Herd went on to lose their first 6 games before finally getting their 1st win on Dec. 9.

.


















2. Justin Edmonds pressures G Hakeem Baxter of UAB (left photo) and tries to keep his dribble alive (right photo) as he goes down on Jan. 30. Edmonds was charged with a turnover immediately after grabbing an offensive rebound late in the 1st half, so I'm guessing he was called for traveling here. Justin had 4 points in 7 minutes; but the Herd, with 1st place in CUSA on the line, lost to UAB 81-78, ending their 7-game home winning streak.
For those of you who don't already know, the brace on his knee is for added support after he suffered a serious injury that caused him to miss the second half of his 2013 sophomore season in junior college and all of the 2014 season (during which he redshirted).

.

















3. While most players with long dreads band their dreads together one way or another, Justin Edmonds barely holds his back at all; but that turns out to be a detriment on this play on Feb. 27 (left photo), as his dreads are just as effective as MTSU G Jaqawn Raymond at blocking his vision as he looks for someone to pass the ball to. Edmonds hits a layup against G Alex Hamilton (right photo) to give the Thundering Herd a 29-25 lead over Louisiana Tech during 1st half on Feb. 3, part of a 14-2 run that took the Herd from 6 points behind to 6 points ahead. But despite Edmonds' 5 points, 6 rebounds, and 3 assists in 15 minutes, the Herd lost when the Bulldogs made a shot from halfcourt at the buzzer to win 97-94. The losses to Tech and MTSU (83-74) were part of a late 3-game losing streak that knocked the Herd out of contention for the CUSA regular season title.

.






















4. Coach D'Antoni (the older brother of the Houston Rockets' coach in the NBA) presents Justin Edmonds with his commemorative picture then poses with Justin and his mom during Marshall's senior night festivities before the game on Mar. 5. Edmonds got the start; but after playing the first 4 minutes and missing his only shot, he took a seat on the bench for the rest of the game and watched the Herd rally from a 23-point deficit and defeat Southern Mississippi 108-106 in overtime.

.

5. I'm sorry I couldn't find a larger version of this photo, as Justin Edmonds has another close encounter with Jaqawn Raymond, this time wrestling the Middle Tennessee State guard for possession of the ball during a semifinal game in the CUSA tournament on Mar. 11. With the Herd down by 16 points, Edmonds shot the ball 10 times in the final 4:25 of the game, making 4 of them; but it was too little, too late in the season-ending 99-90 loss. Justin finished with 13 points in 10 minutes in his final game for Marshall, as the Herd (17-16) either didn't get or didn't accept a bid to a postseason tournament.  
After averaging 9.8 points and 23 minutes as a junior, Edmonds had to be disappointed as he played just 9 minutes per game as a senior, averaging 2.9 PPG. I don't know if he's playing professionally now; but if he is, I can't find any information about it.

.






















6. While Justin Edmonds needed to band his dreads together but didn't, Brandon Taylor was the exact opposite during his career playing for Penn State. Taylor's dreads grew steadily but slowly during his 4 years with the Nittany Lions and they never got so long that he really needed to band them. And yet from Day 1 and in almost every single game after that he kept this same look, with the short ponytail.
In the season opener on Nov. 14 Taylor gets rid of the ball (left photo) before VMI G Tim Marshall can tie him up and puts up a shot over F Trey Chapman (right photo). Two of Chapman's three fouls in the game came while Taylor was shooting, so this might be one of them. Taylor shot just 4 for 14 from the field but still managed to finish with 13 points and 6 rebounds in Penn State's 62-50 home win.

.






















7. Also part of Brandon Taylor's look every game were those four or five locks always hanging loose because they refused to be banded. Actually, I mean, they weren't long enough to reach the band, as you can see in the left photo, as Taylor drives against G Tim Bond of Eastern Michigan early in the 2nd half on Dec. 5. On the right Taylor puts up a shot against C James Thompson in the same game. Brandon recorded the second of his 8 double-doubles on the season, finishing with 12 rebounds and a career high 27 points in the 81-70 home win over EMU. Two weeks later he would set a new career high with 29 points in a win over Kent State.

.






















8. Brandon Taylor and C Jordan Dickerson try to stop Rutgers F Jonathan Laurent on a drive to the basket (left photo) on Feb. 20. This is probably a shot of when Taylor fouled Laurent as he hit a layup late in the 1st half. Three nights earlier Brandon celebrates with G Sam Halle (right photo) during the Nittany Lions' big 79-75 home win over #4 ranked Iowa - the same Iowa team they had lost to by 24 points just two weeks earlier. After scoring 18 against Iowa and 17 along with a career high 14 rebounds in the 70-58 road win over Rutgers, Taylor was named Big 10 co-player of the week: http://www.gopsusports.com/sports/m-baskbl/spec-rel/022216aaa.html

.

















9. Brandon Taylor, a 6-6, 225-pound F, drives against Illinois C Maverick Morgan (left photo) during 1st half on Mar. 6. Taylor finished the drive by making a layup to increase Penn State's lead to 14-8. The caption for the photo on the right doesn't indicate whether G Malcolm Hill was called for a foul, but I certainly hope so. The game play-by-play has Hill fouling Taylor in the closing seconds of the 2nd overtime and Penn State leading by 6, so maybe this is a shot of that. Taylor finished with 21 points and 11 rebounds in 48 minutes in an 86-79 victory over Illinois. Then after the game .....

.


10. ..... Brandon gets emotional, hugging Coach Chambers, after playing his final home game in a Penn State uniform. With the win, the Nittany Lions finished at 7-11 in the Big 10, the best conference record they had in Taylor's 4 seasons.


.


11. G Shep Garner (#23) and F Donovan Jack stand by and hope Brandon Taylor is OK (left photo) after he gets hit in the eye during Penn State's 2nd round game in the Big 10 tournament on Mar. 10. After having those stray locks moved out of the way, Taylor is checked by a member of the medical staff (right photo), probably trainer Jon Salazer. Brandon was fine - he ended up playing 36 minutes in the game.





.





















12. Here is a bit of what Brandon Taylor did in those 36 minutes on Mar. 10 against Ohio State in what turned out to be his final game for Penn State. With the shot clock winding down, Taylor looks to pass out of a double team by G Kam Williams (#15) and F Marc Loving during 1st half. The possession ended with a shot clock violation. In the right photo Taylor puts up a shot against F Mickey Mitchell. Despite 14 points and 5 rebounds by Taylor, the Nittany Lions, who led by 10 in the 1st half, blew the lead and then were outscored 13-8 down the stretch in their 79-75 loss to the Buckeyes. Penn State didn't want to play in one of the minor postseason tournaments, so this loss ended their season with a 16-16 record.
In the past I've complained (mildly) that Taylor, with a body as big as his, should spend more time closer to the basket and stop taking so many 3-pointers. Evidently he finally got the message. In each of his first 3 seasons Taylor shot more threes than twos; but as a senior he shot twice as many twos as threes. Not surprisingly his shooting percentage improved to 43.3% (his previous best was 39.5% as sophomore) and he averaged a team-leading 16.3 PPG and 6.5 RPG in 32 minutes per game. Those numbers were good enough to get him an honorable mention on the All-Big 10 team.
This season Brandon began his pro career for a team in Greece; but after not doing so well, he was released and then played much better after signing with a team in Switzerland. 

.

















13. In DG168 we saw the two junior college transfers with dreads for Alcorn State. Now here is F Tyrel Hunt, who played four seasons for the Braves, in the last three of which he had dreads. A 6-5, 202-pound native of NYC, Hunt watches G James Blackmon dribble past him (left photo) and drives past F Troy Williams (right photo) in the road game against Indiana on Nov. 30 (which was the only game of theirs all season that I could find a lot of good pictures from). Tyrel, who started only 4 games in his senior season and scored in double figures only once, scored 7 points in this game, which Alcorn State lost 112-70.

.















14. Tyrel Hunt, whose dreads were black until he dyed them for his senior season, hits the deck alongside G Marcus Romain of Mississippi Valley State (left photo) in an attempt to keep the ball inbounds and holds his ground trying to draw an offensive foul on G Isaac Williams (right photo) during a quarterfinal game in the SWAC tournament on Mar. 9 at Houston. Hunt played 17 minutes, finishing with 4 rebounds and 4 points in what would be his final game for Alcorn State as the Braves, who finished 2nd in the SWAC with a 13-5 record, were upset by #7 seeded MVSU 64-61.
After a good junior year in 2015 (7.7 PPG, 47.0 FG%), Hunt played a lot less as a senior (14 minutes per game), and his averages dropped to 3.6 PPG (on a career worst 37.8% FG shooting) and 1.9 RPG. You've heard me often complain in the past about partial dreads; but Tyrel is an example that they don't look bad at all after 3 years. Unfortunately these dreads aren't likely to be seen at an arena near you in the future. As far as I can tell, Hunt didn't play for any professional team this season.

.


15. During his junior season in 2015 I was not sure if Anthony Allen had his hair in dreads, or in braids that only looked liked dreads. Well, I'm still not sure; but I went on and welcomed him to the house anyway for his senior year. Allen, the 7-0, 240-pound C for Oklahoma State, goes over the top of Long Beach State F Roschon Prince for one of his 3 dunks in the 1st half on Nov. 22. Anthony scored a career high 13 points in the game; and the Cowboys, after blowing a 15-point halftime lead, came back and defeated the 49ers 82-77.

.


















16. Not much of a scorer, Anthony Allen hit double figures in points in just 2 of the 56 games he played for the Cowboys after transferring from junior college; but he certainly made an impact on defense. Here at Austin on Jan. 16 Allen keeps C Prince Ibeh from getting a rebound (left photo) during the 1st half and keeps G Isaiah Taylor from dunking in the 2nd half (right photo). But Anthony didn't get credit for a blocked shot in the game, so I'm guessing he was called for a foul on this play. He finished with 7 points, 6 rebounds, and 4 fouls in 19 minutes, and the Cowboys dropped to 1-4 in the Big 12, losing to Texas 74-69.

.


17. Three nights later on Jan. 19 Anthony Allen can't prevent F Perry Ellis from scoring on this play, as Ellis makes the layup to cut Oklahoma State's lead to 12-10; but he helped hold Ellis, a 53% shooter for the season, to just 3 for 10 shooting from the field in the game as the Cowboys upset Kansas .....

.


18. ..... After the game, with seemingly everybody taking pictures with their phones, Allen celebrates with G Jawun Evans and the fans who stormed onto the court. From the looks of it, since Evans is a foot shorter than Allen, the fans had a bit harder harder time getting Allen lifted onto their shoulders than they did Evans. The two combined for 24 points - 22 for Evans, who just got drafted by the NBA, and 2 for Allen, who also had 6 rebounds and 2 blocked shots in 17 minutes. Oklahoma State ended their 4-game losing streak and beat Kansas at home for the 3rd year in a row, whipping the #3 ranked Jayhawks 86-67.

.


















19. Here are a couple more photos of Anthony Allen at work at the defensive end of the court, as he swats away a layup by G Isaiah Cousins (left photo) during the 2nd half of a 71-49 road loss to Oklahoma on Feb. 24 and rejects G Barry Brown (right photo) early in 2nd half of the Cowboys' 75-71 loss to Kansas State in the Big 12 tournament on Mar. 9. The block of Brown's layup was the 54th and last blocked shot of his OSU career. Allen also had 9 points and 4 rebounds in 20 minutes in his final game for the Cowboys, who lost 10 of their last 11 games to finish with a 17-15 record. For the season Anthony averaged 2.9 points, 2.4 rebounds, and a team-leading 1.3 blocked shots in 11 minutes per game. It's kind of surprising, but apparently he did not play for any pro teams in 2017.

.


















20. Angelo Chol, a 6-9, 215-pound F for San Diego State, harasses California G Tyrone Wallace on a couple of his 18 FG attempts on Nov. 26. Chol played 11 minutes, just slightly below his season average of 13, and had 2 points and 1 steal as the Aztecs outscored the Bears 44-22 in the 2nd half to hand them their 1st loss of the season, 72-58, in a game played at Las Vegas.

.
















21. Three nights earlier on Nov. 23 Angelo Chol puts up a shot over East Carolina F Michael Zangari (left photo) and then greets members of his fan club (right photo) after the easy win over the Pirates - one of whom who evidently is looking to be more than just a fan. Angelo finished with 6 points, 3 rebounds, and 2 blocked shots in 20 minutes as the Aztecs raced out to a 16-0 lead in the first 4 minutes and never trailed by less than 13 after that in their 79-54 home win over East Carolina.

.

















22. As he does every time he gets the ball in the low post, Angelo Chol tries to get in position to shoot it, this time against 6-11 F Zach Haney (left photo) during 1st half at Boise on Jan. 16. Chol got only 2 shots in this game in 9 minutes, finishing with 2 points as the Aztecs, after leading 54-44 with 4 minutes to play, collapsed down the stretch but held on to win 56-53 and snap Boise State's 10-game winning streak. In the right photo Chol beats Utah State F Lew Evans to a loose ball on Jan. 16. On that afternoon Chol had his best game of the season, finishing with 12 points and 9 rebounds - both career highs - in 17 minutes in San Diego State's 70-55 home win. 

.

















23. After the Aztecs won the regular season MWC crown with a 16-2 record but lost to Fresno State in the championship game of the conference tournament, Angelo Chol finished his college career playing in 4 games in the NIT. In a 2nd round game on Mar. 21 Chol tries to go to the basket against Washington F Devenir Duruisseau (left photo), and in the quarterfinals on Mar. 23 he shoots a layup as C Ben Lammers looks on. Angelo had 6 points, 2 rebounds, and 2 assists in the 72-56 win over Georgia Tech in his final home game. After winning at home in the first 3 rounds, the Aztecs traveled to NYC for the semifinals, where they got whipped by George Washington 65-46, ending their season with a 28-10 record.
For the season Chol averaged 3.9 points and 3.1 rebounds per game. In 2 seasons with Arizona and then two with the Aztecs, he wasn't a bad player; but he just never improved enough to get more playing time.
So, instead of getting a chance to play in the NBA, which seemed like a real possibility after his outstanding high school career, his pro career began for a team in Portugal. Getting playing time was not a problem there. He was playing 21 minutes per game this season and averaging about 9 points and 6 rebounds and leading the league in blocked shots until his season was cut short by injury about halfway through.

.


24. Just the same as Angelo Chol, Loyola (Chicago) F Montel James kept the same, conservative, basic black, simple ponytail look with his dreads for every game. Although he was in the starting lineup for only about half of the Ramblers' games, James played well enough during his senior season to be named to the All-MVC 2nd team. In the first road game of the season on Nov. 18 F Tim Williams (left to right), G Elijah Brown, and C Obij Aget look on as James dunks home Loyola's first two points of the game. But after that things didn't go so well for him or his teammates. Loyola shot only 31.7% from the field, including James' 2 for 8, in a 75-51 loss to New Mexico in the MWC/MVC Challenge.

.


25. Montel James, a 6-7, 220-pounder, dunks again (left photo), this time against Illinois State on Jan. 6; but I'm not sure if this one counted or not, because according to the game play-by-play, F Quintin Brewer (#2) wasn't on the floor when James made his only dunk of the night to make the score 7-0. He was on the floor later in the half when James made a layup; so maybe this is a shot of that. After taking a 13-0 lead, Loyola fell behind 26-21 at halftime. Then after trailing 54-47 in the final 30 seconds, the Ramblers closed to within 54-52, only to have James have a layup blocked with :03 to play as ISU held on for the win. Montel recorded his 1st career double-double in the loss, finishing with 14 points and 14 rebounds. James takes down one of his 12 rebounds against Northern Iowa (right photo) on Jan. 16. He also scored 14 points as the Ramblers snapped a 5-game losing streak, winning at Northern Iowa for the first time ever - and winning in the same building where North Carolina lost earlier in the season - 51-41.

.


















26. Montel James puts up a short shot against Southern Illinois C Bola Olaniyan (left photo) during 1st half on Feb. 6. Of course, if you look at a shot chart, you'll notice all of James' shots are short shots. He attempted only 17 3-pointers all season (making only 3). Against SIU he finished with 18 points and 11 rebounds for the 4th of his 7 double-doubles on the season to help Loyola win 73-59. Four nights later James and Bradley F Donte Thomas both go down while wrestling each other for the ball (right photo) during the 1st half at Peoria. James had 17 points and 7 rebounds in that game, which Loyola won 54-43. Montel shot 7 for 11 in both games as the Ramblers won back-to-back on the road to improve to 12-13.

.


















27. Montel James has a couple of close encounters with Wichita State G Ron Baker late in the season. On Feb. 24 at Chicago James defends on Baker's drive to the basket (left photo). Despite James' 14 points and 10 rebounds, the Shockers won easily 76-54. Baker scored 19 in that game, and he really killed the Ramblers in the conference tournament 9 days later; but James comes out ahead on this play (right photo), blocking a shot by Baker early in the 2nd half and keeping the Shockers' lead at 4.

.






















28. In a 1st round game of the MVC tournament against Bradley on Mar. 3 Montel James has a couple more close encounters with Donte Thomas. After taking the inbounds pass, James can't hit a shot in the lane against Thomas (left photo) midway through the 1st half. James has both Thomas and G Antoine Pittman to deal with (right photo) as he tries again with the left hand. I don't know what happened with that shot; but I do know that James finished with 20 points and a career high 17 rebounds as the #8 seeded Ramblers kept their season alive for another day, defeating #9 seed Bradley 74-66.

.
















29. The Ramblers were back on the court 16 hours later to play top-seeded Wichita State in the quarterfinals. Montel James tries to get the handle on a rebound (right photo) as he gets bumped from behind by F Shaq Morris, who's claiming innocence. After the game was over, Coach Moser physically tries to get Montel to keep his head up (left photo) after the disappointing 66-58 loss. James was so disconsolate because the loss meant his college career was over and because the Ramblers had a great chance to pull off the upset and because they probably would have pulled off the upset if he hadn't played such a poor game. Trailing by 9 at halftime, Loyola outscored Wichita State 31-15 to take a 52-45 lead with 5:49 to play. But then Ron Baker hit three 3-pointers in a row to give Wichita the lead 57-55 with 1:54 on the clock, and the Shockers pulled away after that. James probably was blaming himself for the loss after finishing with 6 points and 4 rebounds in 29 minutes. After winning the CBI a year earlier, the Ramblers' season was already over on Mar. 4 with a 15-17 record.
For the season James led the team in scoring (12.2 PPG), rebounding (7.1 RPG) and blocked shots (1.0 BPG) while playing 29 minutes per game.
To say the least Montel's pro career didn't begin any better than his college career ended. He signed with a 3rd division team in France but then played only 1 game all season. And I was wondering why. I ended up looking at about a half dozen articles from French websites; and, according to Google translations, he was dismissed from the team after the very first game (he had 0 points and 4 rebounds in 10 minutes) after being involved in a "lively" altercation during which his teammates had to restrain him from getting into a fight with his team's head coach during a timeout. If that's the way it really went down, then that's something you simply cannot do. You have to control yourself - even if you're right and the coach is an idiot. Because unless you're a superstar the coach is always going to win. With that on his resume James had a hard time finding another team that would sign him. Hopefully he'll get another chance with some team next season. 
.

So far in our look at College Basketball 2015-16 we've seen a handful of teams that had three players with dreads. But there were a handful of other teams with multiple players with dreads that deserve special recognition - because their players with dreads made major contributions to their teams' success. So for the remainder of DG169 we'll focus on those 4 teams, beginning with .....

















30. ..... Virginia Commonwealth, or, more simply, VCU. One of three players with dreads on the roster, 6-4, 200-pound junior G Doug Brooks takes a wide open jump shot (right photo) against ODU on Nov. 28. For most of the season leaving Brooks open was good defensive strategy, as he finished at a woeful 28% on his 3-point FG. But on this afternoon he made 3 of 5. A much stronger player on defense, Brooks steals the ball from American U G Delante Jones (left photo) in front of the VCU bench during 1st half on Nov. 25. It was one of 16 steals by the Rams, including 2 by Brooks in 13 minutes, in their easy 72-44 home win.
Actually VCU only had two players with dreads when the season began. Looking on from the bench but not in uniform for this game is Jonathan Williams, whose hair didn't start looking like dreads until the second half of the season.

.
















31. Also a good defensive player but much more of threat on offense than Brooks, 6-7, 250-pound junior F Mo Alie-Cox puts up a shot with both ODU F Stephen Vassor's hand and a couple of his own locks in his face on Nov. 28. The caption says this was in the 1st half, which means he missed the shot (because he went 0 for 2 in the 1st half). But more often than not, and especially with his comfort zone no further than 10 feet from the basket, Alie-Cox was successful when asked to score. After shooting 59.4% from the field as a sophomore, he upped that to 61.2% as a junior - on an average of 6.2 shots per game. With both Alie-Cox and Brooks contributing 9 points, VCU defeated ODU 76-67 in the 91st meeting between the two rivals.

.





















32. In a season full of bad shooting games for Doug Brooks, the worst game might have been his 2 for 15 against Georgia Tech on Dec. 15; but at least his dreads certainly made a spectacular showing, looking great as G Marcus Georges-Hunt dribbles past him (right photo) and even better while flowing completely loosely as he defends G Adam Smith (left photo) in the 2nd half. Brooks finished with 6 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists, and 5 fouls in 22 minutes as Georgia Tech outscored VCU 28-16 in the final 10 minutes of the game to win 77-64.
If you like, you can click on this link for a photo gallery of the game from the VCU website for a couple more great shots of Brooks: http://www.vcuathletics.com/sports/mbkb/2015-16/photos/0008/index#PhotoSwipe1499052094201

.


33. In the games when they weren't reduced, including these two games in late December, Mo Alie-Cox's dreads looked kind of spectacular themselves. C Evan Maxwell of Liberty tries to steal the ball while he and G Ryan Kemrite double-team Alie-Cox (left photo) on Dec. 27. Mo finished with 8 points (4-5 FG) in 19 minutes as the Rams roared out to a 29-point halftime lead and cruised to an 85-57 home win. Three nights later a trio of North Florida players admire Mo's dreads as he shoots a layup (right photo). Mo finished with 19 points, which at the time was his career high, and 5 rebounds in VCU's 80-68 home win. The wins over Liberty and North Florida were victories #2 and 3 of what would become a 12-game winning streak.

.






















34. Although he didn't get credit for a blocked shot on this play, Mo Alie-Cox helps keep St.Joseph's F James Demery from scoring (left photo) during the 1st half on Jan. 5. But it was what Alie-Cox did on the offensive end that helped the Rams the most on this night. After the Rams cut a 70-57 St.Joseph's lead with 7 minutes remaining to 76-70 with 3 minutes to play, Alie-Cox scored on the next 5 VCU possessions to give the Rams an 80-78 lead with 1:12 to play; and they led the rest of the game, holding on for a huge 85-82 road win as Mo finished with 14 points and 5 rebounds. Then on Jan. 16, as Doug Brooks looks on below, F Trey Davis of Richmond does whatever he can to keep Alie-Cox from blocking his shot as he drives to the basket (right photo). Mo did block Davis' shot once during the game, but this looks like one of the 2 times he fouled Davis during the 2nd half. Mo finished with a season high 5 blocked shots - the last of which coming with 5 seconds to play in the 2nd half and the game tied - along with 12 points and 6 rebounds; while Brooks had 4 points, 4 rebounds, and 5 fouls in 17 minutes as VCU picked up another tough road win 94-89 in overtime.

.



















35. Mo Alie-Cox congratulates Doug Brooks' dreads (left photo) after a play during the home game against Duquesne on Jan. 20 - and with good reason. That was the night Brooks had his best game of the season, scoring a career high 16 points and adding 3 rebounds, 4 assists, and 5 steals in 26 minutes. The two tied for the team lead in scoring, as Alie-Cox had 16 points and 4 blocked shots in the Rams' 93-71 victory. Four days later Brooks drives to the basket (right photo) and lays it in to up VCU's lead to 69-63 with 3:41 to play, causing St. Bonaventure to call a timeout. Doug's only other FG in the game was a 3-pointer that started the Rams' comeback from a 50-41 deficit. In addition to his 5 points, he also had 8 rebounds and 4 assists - both season highs - as the Rams improved to 7-0 in the Atlantic 10 with an 84-76 home win.

.


















36. As early as the middle of January you could tell that Jonathan Williams had become the 3rd member of the 2015-16 VCU Rams with dreads. But it wasn't until February that you could start seeing his dreads a little more clearly. That was about the same time he moved into the starting lineup. Williams, a 6-1, 185-pound G already with a beard even though he was only a sophomore, brings the ball up against UMass G Jabarie Hinds (left photo) on Feb. 11 and goes to the basket between G Jermaine Bishop and F Reggie Agbeko of Saint Louis (right photo) on Feb. 13. Williams played a season high 30 minutes in the 85-52 home win over SLU, finishing with 12 points, a season high 4 rebounds, and a season high 7 assists.

.


37. Here are all three of VCU's players with dreads in the same shot, as Doug Brooks and Jonathan Williams watch F Antwan Space take (and miss) a shot against Mo Alie-Cox during the 2nd half on Feb. 11. The three accounted for only 10 points (all by Alie-Cox) in 54 combined minutes on the court as the Rams lost on the road to Massachusetts 69-63, their 2nd straight loss following the 12-game win streak.

.


38. This photo from Feb. 16 typifies the kind of player Doug Brooks is - on the floor, dreads in the air, always fighting to get VCU an extra possession. And kudos to Rhode Island G Jarvis Garrett too, willing to hit the deck and get close to Brooks' elbow while playing with a broken jaw. I don't know if this was one of them, but Brooks had a career high 7 steals in this game - an astonishing total when you consider he played only 20 minutes. Mo Alie-Cox also had a career high in the game with 21 points (10-12 FG) in just 22 minutes as VCU whipped URI 83-67.

.






















39. It was Jonathan Williams' turn to shine on Feb. 27. Williams drives against F Anthony Swan (left photo) during VCU's big 69-65 road win over George Washington. He scored a season high 17 points - one of his three games in double figures - as the Rams avenged a home loss to GW 3 weeks earlier. Jonathan takes a jump shot in the lane over Davidson F Andrew McAuliffe (right photo) in the Rams' next game on Mar. 2. Williams scored 6 points, and Mo Alie-Cox led the Rams with 18 points and 9 rebounds in their 70-60 home win over Davidson that clinched a tie for the A-10 regular season crown.
But a thrilling 1-point road loss to Dayton three nights later meant the Rams had to share the crown with Dayton, with both finishing at 14-4.

.






















40. St. Joseph's G Shavar Newkirk goes for the ball but ends up with his fingers in Mo Alie-Cox's dreads instead (left photo) as he and F Isaiah Miles double team Mo during the 1st half of the championship game of the A-10 tournament at New York on Mar. 13. Also in the 1st half Alie-Cox goes to the floor but loses this rebound out of bounds (right photo) after a missed 3-point shot by the Hawks with 4:28 to play and VCU trailing by 6. The Rams trailed for the last 34 minutes of the game - and by as many as 21 points at one point. It just was not their day. St.Joseph's shot an incredible 64.8% from the field to take home the trophy with an 87-74 victory. But the Rams' 24-10 overall record was good enough (just barely) to get an at-large selection to the NCAA Tournament. They were the #10 seed in the West Regional.

.


41. Mo Alie-Cox goes up and dunks on 6-10 F Drew Eubanks (left photo) - described as a thunderous dunk in the game recap on the VCU website - to cut Oregon State's lead to 1 with 7:47 remaining in the 1st half of a 1st round game in the NCAA Tournament at Oklahoma City on Mar. 18. It was the first of 3 dunks Mo had in the game, and it ignited a 9-0 run that put VCU ahead 26-20. In the 2nd half Mo says no to Eubanks, blocking his layup (right photo) with 2 seconds on the shot clock. This was a huge, momentum-changing play, as the Beavers were on a 10-0 run and had taken a 2-point lead with 9 minutes to play. The Rams got the rebound, hit a fast-break 3-pointer 5 seconds later and never trailed again, outscoring Oregon State 26-16 in the final 8:30 of the game. Mo had an outstanding game, finishing with 20 points (7-8 FG, 6-6 FT), 8 rebounds, and 3 blocked shots in VCU's 75-67 victory.

.

















42. Mo says no again, this time rejecting Oklahoma G Isaiah Cousins (left photo) on Mar. 20. But this time it doesn't count, and I think it was because Cousins was fouled by G Melvin Johnson (#32). Mo puts up a shot against F Khadeem Lattin (right photo) during the 2nd half. In his final game of the season Alie-Cox had 8 points (4-5 FG), 4 rebounds, and 1 blocked shot in 28 minutes.

.


43. Doug Brooks and Mo Alie-Cox celebrate as Brooks comes to the sideline for a timeout with 5:44 remaining in the 1st half in the 2nd round of the NCAA Tournament against Oklahoma. The timeout came shortly after Brooks hit his 2nd 3-pointer of the game, cutting the Sooners' lead that was 21-7 when he first entered the game to 30-25 .....

.

















44. ..... But things didn't go so well for Brooks after that. He is consoled by G JeQuan Lewis (left photo). This could be a shot of Brooks disappointed as he waits to be subbed out after committing 2 fouls 26 seconds apart late in the 1st half and Oklahoma leading by 11. I think it was that, but it could also be after he picked up his 5th foul with 9 seconds to go and VCU down by 3. In the right photo Brooks looks for a chance to steal the ball from G Buddy Hield. Doug did not score other than those two 3-pointers he made in the 1st half, finishing with 6 points, 2 rebounds, and 2 steals in 18 minutes. Hield scored all day (36 points) and combined with OU's other two starting guards - Cousins, and Jordan Woodard - for 68 of the Sooners' 85 points. The Rams gave the #2 seeded Sooners a serious run for their money, leading for the last time at 67-66 with 7 minutes remaining. At that point Hield scored 7 points during a 9-0 OU run and the Sooners held on from there. The Rams finished with a 25-11 record and were one of my favorite teams to watch.
Here are the stats for Alie-Cox, Brooks, and Williams.
Alie-Cox: 36 games, 26 MPG, 10.4 PPG, new school record 61.2 FG%, 5.1 RPG, 1.0 APG, 1.9 BPG, named A-10 All-Defensive and 3rd team All-A-10.
Brooks: 36 games, 16 MPG, 4.2 PPG, 29.1 FG%, 2.5 RPG, 1.3 APG, 1.9 SPG
Williams: 32 games, 14 MPG, 3.9 PPG, 45.7 FG%, 1.3 RPG, 1.8 APG

The 2017 season for the Rams was similar to 2016: another excellent regular season followed by a disappointing loss early in the NCAA Tournament. Brooks and Williams (especially Williams) played more and contributed a lot more. As for next season, Williams will be back for his senior year, his dreads much more noticeable now. It will be interesting see if Brooks ends up playing anywhere. And, of course, Alie-Cox is set to begin his pro career - in the NFL, that is, not in basketball: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PzuaYgwBXKU
.

When the 2015-16 season began, I already knew Clide Geffrard had dreads. And I knew I needed to check if the hair Ty Charles was growing the year before had turned into dreads (it had). But it wasn't until the end of the season that I found out that two other players with dreads were members of the Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks, the best team in the Southland Conference. I'll take the blame for my negligence for not knowing until then; but it didn't help that games involving teams in the SLC rarely are found on television.






















45. It also didn't help that one of the few times SFA was on ESPN was the game against Northern Iowa on Nov. 17 that started at 7 AM. In that game Ty Charles, a 6-5, 190-pound sophomore G, runs over G Jeremy Morgan (left photo) as he tries to put up a shot. This probably happened in the 2nd half, when he was called for an offensive foul with 7:58 remaining and SFA down by 9. Including going 2 for 11 in this game, Charles made just 6 of his first 33 shots of the season in the first 4 games.
At the end of his freshman season Charles looked like he might have had his hair in beginner dreads; and by the middle of his sophomore season there was no doubt - his high top dreads were in full bloom (right photo) as he drives against G Jovan Crnic of Abilene Christian on Jan. 16. Ty's shooting woes were a thing of the past by then. He hit 11 of 12 in this game, finishing with a career high 25 points, along with 7 rebounds and 5 assists in 27 minutes. As a team the Lumberjacks shot a school record 72.2% (39 for 54) in the 97-62 home win over ACU.

.

















46. In his second season with dreads Clide Geffrard dyed his locks after having them black the year before. And with them being nearly the same length as Charles, and with him being the same height as Charles, it was easy to get the two mixed up.Geffrard, a 6-5, 220-pound senior F, has his layup blocked by Northern Iowa F Bennett Koch during the 2nd half on Nov. 17, keeping the Panthers' lead at 47-30 with 16:15 remaining. Technically Geffrard shot better than Charles as SFA began the the season with a pair of road losses against tough teams, but that's true only because by the slimmest of margins his 1 for 8 was "better" than Charles' 2 for 17. Clide finished with 2 points, 2 rebounds, 3 turnovers, and 4 fouls in 15 minutes in the 70-60 loss to UNI. I guess that 7 AM start was a bit too early.
Geffrard heated up quickly after that, scoring in double figures in 8 of the Lumberjacks' last 10 nonconference games, including 15 at UAB on Dec. 29 - although he was 0 for 2 after this layup was smothered by F Tosin Mehinti (right photo), keeping SFA's lead at 11-2 just before the game's first TV timeout. The Lumberjacks would up that lead to 31-13 before UAB closed the half on a 18-0 run to tie the game and went on to win 76-66.

.


















47. Clide Geffrard moves in and makes the tackle - I mean commits the foul - while chasing Arizona State G Tra Holder late in the game on Dec. 22. SFA was trailing by 3 with less than 30 seconds to play and had just missed a shot at the other end when Geffrard had to foul to prevent the layup. Unfortunately the foul was so obvious that the officials had no choice but to call it a flagrant foul, so ASU kept the ball after Holder made the two FT. Geffrard led SFA with 20 points - the third of his 6 games with 20+ points, but ASU got the win 80-73.
The Lumberjacks went 7-5 in nonconference games in the first two months of the season. But with losses to Baylor, UNI, UAB, and ASU and with none of the 7 wins coming against good teams, they knew they had no chance of getting an at large selection to the NCAA Tournament. Their only way in was to win the conference tournament. That would prove to be no problem.

.






















48. Ty Charles looks to pass as F Colter Lasher defends (left photo) during the 2nd half on Feb. 6. Charles had 5 turnovers and just 5 points in 32 minutes but also added 6 rebounds and a career high 6 assists as the Lumberjacks handed Houston Baptist their 1st home loss of the season, 72-66. The 6-point margin of victory was the Jacks' second smallest during their 18-0 romp through the SLC during the regular season. Back at home two nights later Charles successfully gets to the basket against F Reginald Kissoonlal (right photo) but can't hit the layup, keeping SFA's lead at 12 during the 1st half. Ty finished with 8 points and 4 rebounds in the 83-72 win over Northwestern State.

.






















49. To say the least SFA was a guard-dominated team. Of the eight players that played the most minutes only one was taller than the 6-foot-5 Clide Geffrard and none weighed more Geffrard's 220 pounds. That's where the Lumberjacks' other two players with dreads enter the picture - well, only one of them actually. CJ Williams and JaQuan Smith were recruited out of junior college to give the Jacks some size when needed; but neither of them turned out to be major contributors. Smith played only 45 minutes all season, but at least Williams was on the court for nearly every game - averaging 9 minutes per appearance. Williams, a 6-7, 240-pound junior F, drives against C Josh Ibarra (right photo) during the 4 minutes he played in the road win over Houston Baptist on Feb. 6 and looks to drive against F Bryce Douvier (left photo) during the 70-58 home win over Texas A&M-Corpus Christi on Feb. 13. Williams didn't score in either game but did have 3 assists in 16 minutes against TAMU-CC. His single game season highs were 11 rebounds and 4 assists in 18 minutes against Lamar on Feb. 22 and 8 points in the home game against Lamar on Jan. 25. And, as you can see, he certainly gave the team some size. The 240 pounds was his listed weight; but I mean, the scale must have been broke if that's really what it measured CJ at.

.




















50. Clide Geffrard drives against F Alex Fountain (left photo) during SFA's 104-68 demolition of Houston Baptist during a semifinal game of the SLC tournament on Mar. 11. After scoring 15 points and grabbing 9 rebounds in 21 minutes against HBU and going for 18 points and 8 rebounds the next night in the championship game win over Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, Geffrard receives his trophy from Tom Burnett, Commissioner of the SLC (right photo), after being named to the All-Tournament team.

.

















51. Ty Charles shoots - and misses - a 3-pointer as G Caleb Crayton defends (left photo) during the 2nd half on Mar. 11. Charles missed all 4 of his 3-point attempts in the game and finished with just 6 points; but he tied Geffrard for the team lead with 9 rebounds in the semifinal win over Houston Baptist. In the championship game Ty had 12 points, 4 rebounds, and 4 assists as the Lumberjacks, after falling behind 6-0, went on a 35-6 run and went on to crush TAMU-CC 82-60. It was party time after the Jacks won the conference tournament for the 3rd straight year, and all four of their players with dreads can be seen in this team photo (on right). That's CJ Williams chillin' on the floor in front of everybody, Geffrard (with headband) and Charles are the two players closest to the trophy, and JaQuan Smith, with the longest dreads of the four, is the player on the far left.
.

SFA roared into the NCAA Tournament on a 20-game winning streak; but whipping up on the Southland Conference didn't do much to impress the tournament selection committee - the Lumberjacks were seeded #14 in the East Regional. But that would prove to be no problem either - at least not in the 1st round.



















52. SFA beat West Virginia at their own game - defense. Ty Charles defends F Nathan Adrian (left photo) during the 1st half on Mar. 18 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn. Also in the 1st half Clide Geffrard draws the offensive foul against Adrian (right photo), keeping WVU's lead at 26-23 with 3:25 remaining. West Virginia entered the game averaging 14 turnovers per game and a +4 turnover margin. But against the Lumberjacks, who ranked #1 in the nation in forcing opponents into turnovers, the Mountaineers had 22 turnovers and were -15.

.



53. Clide Geffrard hits the deck (photo above) to gain possession of the ball on one of the 5 turnovers F Devin Williams (#41) had in the 1st half. Ty Charles ends up with the leg of Nathan Adrian in his dreads (photo on right) as they battle for possession on the floor along with CJ Williams and WVU F Brandon Watkins. It wasn't one of Charles' better games, to put it kindly. He had 0 points (his only scoreless game of the season, 1 assist, 1 steal, and 5 fouls in 12 minutes.








.



















54. Clide Geffrard and CJ Williams team up to harass Nathan Adrian (left photo) and G Jaysean Paige (right photo) as they try to score. This was one of the games where Williams' size was needed; so he was on the court a little more than usual, playing 15 minutes. Adrian finished 0 for 3 from the field, while Paige shot 4 for 13. Geffrard also was 4 for 13 but still scored 14 points and had 8 rebounds and 4 steals in 31 minutes.

.

















55. With 12 minutes remaining in the game, CJ Williams blocks a short jumper by Jaysean Paige (left photo), keeping SFA's lead at 45-39. Hard to believe but this was Williams' 1st blocked shot of the season. He also had 1 point and 5 rebounds in the game. WVU was held to 30.8% shooting from the field (16-52). SFA wasn't any better (30.9%) but they dominated in points off turnovers 29-4 and pulled away down the stretch, outscoring West Virginia 22-11 in the final 9:30 of the game to win 70-56. The 14-point margin of victory tied for the most ever in a win by a #14 seed over a #3 seed.
In the 2nd round against Notre Dame on Mar. 20 Williams goes to the basket but can't score against F Zach Auguste (right photo) during the 1st half. In fact, this looks like a shot of the play where Auguste blocked Williams' layup with 6:15 remaining until halftime. CJ had a much smaller role in this game but was busy in the 5 minutes he played, finishing with 0 points (0-2 FG), 3 rebounds and 1 assist.

.



56. Ty Charles finishes a fast break with a 2-handed slam and ends up with his dreads touching the net (and thankfully not getting caught in it). Charles' 1st FG of the game cut Notre Dame's lead to 16-15 with 12 minutes to play in the 1st half. Ty bounced back from his poor game with a good performance against the Irish, finishing with 9 points, 2 rebounds, 2 assists, and 4 steals in 35 minutes. If you'd like to see this dunk, click on this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qam4lZ8vvlg

.



















57. G Steve Vasturia goes up between Clide Geffrard and Ty Charles but misses a short shot during the 1st half. I know he missed because, according to shot chart on ESPN.com, he went 1 for 6 on FG attempts in the paint, and the only one he made came when Geffrard was on the bench. He finished 3 for 11 from the field.

.

















58. Clide Geffrard goes to the basket against Zach Auguste and G Rex Pflueger but can't hit the layup during the 2nd half. Take your pick, this is either a shot of his missed layup with 14:34 remaining, 12:43 remaining, or 11:48 remaining. After shooting 4 for 7 and scoring 9 points in the 1st half, Clide missed all 6 of his shots and didn't score after halftime.

.



















59. So close and yet so far ..... SFA fans are probably still having nightmares about this one. Needing one stop to get to the Sweet 16, the Lumberjacks can't get one, as Rex Plueger, after Notre Dame had already missed two short shots in the final 6 seconds, tips in the second missed shot with 1.5 seconds to play to win it for the Irish 76-75. Clide Geffrard helped defend the first two shots but was just a bit too late to stop Pflueger. Here's a video of the finish, including Geffrard not coming close on a desperation shot from beyond half court at the buzzer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qerNHCMqL5s
Perhaps the most painful part of this whole thing was that after facing their largest deficit of the game at 62-55 with 9 minutes to play, SFA had gone on a 20-8 run to take a 75-70 lead. But they couldn't hold on, failing to score in the final 2 minutes.

.



60. In a classic example of the thrill and the agony ..... CJ Williams, Ty Charles, JaQuan Smith, and their teammates on the bench celebrate during the closing moments of SFA's victory over West Virginia (photo above); but it was a different story two days later, as Clide Geffrard dejectedly walks by (photo on right) while Notre Dame's players get to celebrate after their last-second win in round 2.
The Lumberjacks finished with a 28-6 record and with a lot of disappointment that they didn't advance to play Wisconsin in the next round. Here are the stats for the four players with dreads.
Geffrard: 34 games, 24 MPG, 13.3 PPG, 49.0 FG%, 5.9 RPG, 1.4 APG, named 3rd team All-SLC
Charles: 33 games, 25 MPG, 9.4 PPG, 44.4 FG%, 4.8 RPG, 2.3 APG, 1.4 SPG
Williams: 31 games, 9 MPG, 2.4 PPG, 44.4 FG%, 2.7 RPG, 1.0 APG
Smith: 17 games, 2 MPG, 1.1 PPG, 40 FG%, 0.9 RPG

Unfortunately, as far as dreads go, SFA 2015-16 was a one-year wonder. The Lumberjacks very quickly went from 4 players with dreads to none the next season. Charles cut his dreads off. Geffrard signed with a pro team in Argentina and seemed to be doing well. But apparently he didn't want to be there and allowed himself to get released from the team. Looking for more playing time, Smith transferred to a Division 2 school. And very sadly Williams was diagnosed with a heart problem that ended his career.

.

There are 12 schools in South Carolina that play Division 1 basketball, and in 2016 only one of them had more than one player with dreads. In fact that one team had more players with dreads than the other 11 combined.

















61. Similar to SFA, I already knew that South Carolina State had two players with dreads when the season began and didn't find out about the other two until near the end of the season. The two I knew about, Ty Solomon (on left in left photo) and Darryl Palmer, look on along with everybody else waiting to see the result of a shot by East Carolina F Caleb White (#2) during ECU's 98-71 home win on Dec. 22. Solomon, a 5-10, 170-pound sophomore G, drives against G Ahmad Frost of Maryland-Eastern Shore (right photo) on Jan. 18. Solomon, who played in 33 SCSU's 34 games and started 21 of them, had 5 points (2-2 FG), 4 rebounds, and 2 assists as the Bulldogs defeated UMES 68-63 for their 5th straight win, evening up their record at 10-10. 

.


62. Darryl Palmer, a 6-8, 225-pound senior C, challenges one of the several shots taken by Morgan State F Cedric Blossom (left photo) on Feb. 8. Blossom had 15 FG attempts, and that doesn't include the 3 times Palmer fouled him in the 2nd half, on his way to a game high 23 points. Palmer finished with 11 points and 6 rebounds in 25 minutes as the Bulldogs improved to 9-2 in the MEAC with an 82-78 home win over Morgan State. The attendance on senior night was no less sparse than usual - only 532 showed up - as Palmer takes, and misses, a jump shot (right photo) early in the 1st half on Mar. 3. Darryl had 3 points, 6 rebounds, and tied his season high (which he had in 4 other games) with 4 blocked shots in his final home game in a South Carolina State uniform as the Bulldogs finished at 12-4 (tied for 2nd place) in the MEAC with an 85-72 win over Bethune-Cookman.

.


63. The Bulldogs' other two players with dreads played so little that it was almost impossible to find any photos of them. In this shot you can see both of them together along with their teammates listening to Coach Garvin at practice. 6-1, 160-pound G Bobby Williams (#20) played in 10 games but only for a total of 15 minutes, finishing the season with 2 points, 3 rebounds, and 2 assists. Jaylen Reid (#34), a 6-7, 200-pound junior F, appeared in 5 games and fittingly also had 2 points, 3 rebounds, and 2 assists in the 23 total minutes he played.

.

64. Doing what he does best, Darryl Palmer smothers a shot by Norfolk State G Charles Oliver during the 1st half in a semifinal game of the MEAC tournament at Norfolk on Mar. 11 ..... but, according to the caption, they called a foul on Palmer. So that means that 40 seconds after having his layup blocked by Palmer, he challenged Darryl again on this next trip down the court and ended up making 2 FT to cut the Bulldogs' lead to 35-31.
SCSU built the lead to 21 points in the 2nd half only to lose all of it after a 30-8 run by NSU. But three seconds after NSU took a 1-point lead, the Bulldogs hit 2 FT to regain the lead with 16 seconds left and hung on. Palmer finished with 7 points, 5 rebounds, and 2 blocked shots as South Carolina State won 67-65 to advance to the championship game against top-seeded Hampton.

















65. G Reginald Johnson of Hampton goes to the basket against Darryl Palmer on different plays during both halves of the championship game on Mar. 12. The captions with these photos didn't mention how Johnson fared; so we don't know if these plays resulted in any of the 7 shots he made or any of the 11 he missed - including the two times Palmer blocked his shot - or any of the two times Palmer fouled him.

.

















66. Considering the shot clock is reading 30 (left photo), I'd have to say this is the play on Mar. 12 where Ty Solomon fouled G Brian Darden right after he got an offensive rebound with 12:33 remaining in the 1st half. In the right photo Reginald Johnson is driving again, this time trying to get between Solomon and G Greg Mortimer. Of the few photos of Solomon that I was able to find these two give you the best looks at his dreads. If I had done a dread all-America team for 2016, Ty would have made the team.

.


67. Much to their dismay, Darryl Palmer and Ty Solomon have a better view than anyone of this dunk by F Jervon Pressley that ups Hampton's lead to 65-61 with 7:24 to play. After doing nothing in the 1st half, Pressley killed the Bulldogs in the 2nd half, getting 14 points and 8 rebounds in 13 minutes.
With both teams having players with dreads (Hampton had two), no matter who won there was going to be a MEAC team with dreads playing in the NCAA Tournament; but I'd be lying if I didn't say I was hoping SCSU would win. The Bulldogs led by 9 early in the 2nd half, only to have Hampton go on a 19-6 run to lead by 4. Then after the game was tied at 67 with 4 minutes to play, the Bulldogs proceeded to shoot 1 for 8 and have 1 turnover on their final 8 possessions of the game, as Hampton pulled away to win 81-69. Solomon had 2 points (1-6 FG), 4 rebounds, and a team-leading 5 assists in 26 minutes; while Palmer finished with 6 points, 4 rebounds, and 3 blocked shots in 24 minutes.

.




68. With their record standing at 19-14, the Bulldogs accepted a bid to play in the CIT; so two days after they lost to Hampton they were in Phoenix to take on Grand Canyon. Darryl Palmer had 2 blocked shots in the game, one of which was on a layup by G Dominic Magee; but I serious doubt that block came on this drive by Magee in the 2nd half. Palmer appears to just be spectating this time. 

SCSU wasn't expected to win on the road, and they didn't. But they sure made it tough for GCU. Trailing by 9 with 3:30 remaining, the Bulldogs closed to with 1 before GCU held on to win 78-74. In addition to the 2 blocks, Palmer had 6 points and 3 rebounds in his final game for SCSU. Solomon missed the game (due to injury, I suppose).
For the season Palmer led the Bulldogs in blocked shots (1.4 BPG) and rebounds (5.8 RPG), even though he played only 24 minutes per game. He also averaged 7.4 PPG and shot 49.0% from the field. Solomon played 21 minutes per game, averaging 3.2 PPG, 2.1 RPG, and a team-leading 3.7 APG.
This season Solomon, Bobby Williams, and Jaylen Reid all were back with the Bulldogs - and doing just about the same as they did in 2016. In his first pro season Palmer played briefly for three different teams in Europe before signing with a team in Albania just after Christmas and settling down staying there for a while.
.

Being a longtime follower (and most of the time, a sufferer) of the Bradley Braves, I know I'm supposed to treat the Illinois State Redbirds as the evil enemy. But I'll tell you, I haven't been able to hate the Redbirds these past few seasons. Going back to when Bryant Allen took the floor with some of the longest dreads in the nation, in more seasons than not since I started this blog, there have been dreads on the ISU basketball team. And the Redbirds outdid themselves in 2015-16. Even with G DeVaughn Akoon-Purcell (who got an honorable mention on my 2015 all-America with dreads team) cutting off his dreads for his senior season, they still had four players with dreads in uniform on opening night.


69. Starting and star G Paris Lee spent his 2014-15 sophomore season letting his hair get longer; so it was no surprise that he debuted his dreads when ISU opened the 2015-16 season on the road against San Diego State in the MWC/MVC Challenge. Lee would join forces with junior G Tony Wills to form a dynamic defensive dreaded duo for the Redbirds throughout the season. Here the two try to force G D'Erryl Williams into a turnover on Nov. 13. Lee shot just 2 for 13 from the field in his first game with dreads, finishing with 10 points, 4 rebounds, and a game high 7 assists in 32 minutes. Wills, who played his first game with dreads probably before he was even in high school, had 2 points and 1 assist in 14 minutes.

.



















70. In what was both his first game with dreads and his first game for Illinois State, freshman F Roland Griffin has a couple of close encounters with F Dakarai Allen. The photo on the left is either a shot of Allen shooting (and making) a 3-point FG against Griffin in the 2nd half or of Griffin blocking Allen's 3-pointer in the 1st half. On the right Griffin has his shot blocked by Allen late in the 1st half. Griffin didn't start but he played 31 minutes and led the Redbirds with 13 points.
Trailing the play in the right photo is the Redbirds' other player with dreads .....

.


71. ..... Senior F Quintin Brewer, who also was playing his 1st game in an Illinois State uniform. Brewer is one of the few players who played all four of his seasons at different schools. After playing for two different junior colleges, he played at Bethune-Cookman as a junior in 2015 before transferring to ISU for his senior season with immediate eligibility as a graduate transfer. Here Brewer fouls F Zylan Cheatham on a drive to the basket with 11:28 remaining in the game. Cheatham made 1 of 2 FT to increase the Aztecs' lead to 46-40 on their way to a 71-60 victory. After finishing with 9 points and 6 rebounds, it looked like Brewer was going to be a major contributor on offense for ISU; but the 9 points turned out to be his season high, and in only two other games did he score more than 6 points. 

.






















72. You can get a good look at just how long Tony Wills' dreads are in these two shots taken in the middle of Kentucky's 10-0 run on Nov. 30, upping their 46-40 lead to 56-40. G Jamal Murray goes to the basket against Wills and Roland Griffin (left photo) and is fouled by Griffin with 12:35 remaining. And on the Wildcats' next possession G Dominique Hawkins takes (and misses) a jump shot in the lane over Wills (right photo). Wills finished with 0 points (one of his three scoreless games during the season), 2 rebounds, 1 assist, and 1 steal in 21 minutes.

.






















73. F Marcus Lee shot 6 for 8 against the Redbirds on Nov. 30, and a big reason why was that 7 of his 8 shots were from in the lane. After grabbing an offensive rebound, Lee hits a short jump hook over Quintin Brewer (left photo), as Tony Wills looks on, to give UK a 59-47 lead with 8:19 to play. The caption for the photo on the right says that Lee scored on this play; but by the process of elimination, no, he didn't. This has to be either his missed shot with 12:11 to play in the 1st half, as Roland Griffin defends and Paris Lee looks on; or his shot 1:29 later which missed after he was fouled by F Deontae Hawkins (the player behind Lee and partially hidden).
Griffin hit 7 of 10 shots from the field and scored 14 points. Brewer finished with 6 points and 8 rebounds in 15 minutes. Paris Lee had 3 points (1-7 FG), 1 assist and 3 turnovers in 26 minutes. The game was tied at 31 at the half, but then the Redbirds shot 29% in the 2nd half and lost to Kentucky 75-63 to drop their record to 3-5.

.


74. UIC G Dominique Matthews is surrounded by the dreads of Quintin Brewer, Roland Griffin, and Tony Wills as he takes one of his 16 shots from the field on Dec. 16 at Chicago. Matthews scored twice as many points (20) as Brewer, Griffin, and Wills combined (10); but the Redbirds, after trailing 47-39 with 14:20 to play, went on a 27-4 run over the next 11 minutes to win 72-60 and pick up their 1st road win of the season.
Unfortunately Griffin would suffer a foot injury two and a half weeks later that pretty much ended his season. Here he is on the bench watching the game against Drake on Jan. 26: http://alanlook.photoshelter.com/gallery-image/2015-16-Illinois-State-Redbird-Basketball-photos/G0000jI2L_FbTaZ4/I0000TzfNjxOG7N8/C0000aRpZGC232sA
Apparently Griffin and the ISU medical staff weren't in agreement on the severity of his injury, and that led to him leaving the team before the season was over. Neither side was saying anything when he left (see article on the link below); but something must have gone seriously wrong, because you don't just let a talented player like him walk away from the team so easily.
http://www.videtteonline.com/sports/frosh-roland-griffin-leaves-isu-program-due-to-undisclosed-medical/article_b73c9778-d909-11e5-8708-afd95adc098e.html
Griffin cut off his dreads but was letting his hair get long again this season while playing for a junior college team; so we'll see if he brings the dreads back or not next season when he plays for Iona.

.

















75. Doing what he does best - playing defense, that is - Paris Lee teams up with Deontae Hawkins to try to get Missouri State F Camyn Boone to turn the ball over (left photo) during the 1st half on Dec. 30 and guards G Reed Timmer of Drake (right photo) on Jan. 3 at Des Moines. Lee, a 6-0, 185-pounder, had totals of 20 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals, and 0 turnovers in 54 minutes in the two games as the Redbirds came back from a double-digit deficit in both games to win both, 74-61 over Missouri State and 67-62 over Drake, and get off to a 2-0 start in MVC play.

.

















76. Paris Lee and G Mike Rodriguez saw plenty of each other in the two games between ISU and Southern Illinois. Lee dribbles past Rodriguez (left photo) during the 2nd half at Carbondale on Jan. 12 and drives to the basket between Rodriguez and C Bola Olaniyan (right photo) during the 1st half at Normal on Feb. 24. After blowing a 68-59 lead with 7 minutes to play in an 81-78 loss in the first meeting, the Redbirds blew out SIU in the second meeting. With Lee scoring a career high 21 points, ISU led by at least 17 points the entire 2nd half and cruised to an easy 73-50 victory.

.





















77. Tony Wills, one of several basketball players from Indianapolis with great dreads, puts up a shot against G Anthony Odunsi of Houston Baptist (left photo) on Nov. 21. Odunsi wasn't in the game when Wills scored his only FG of the game, so I guess that means this was one of the 4 shots he missed during the Redbirds' 72-56 home win. Wills tries to dribble past F Chris Kendrix of Missouri State (right photo) on Jan. 30. Tony played a season high 38 minutes that afternoon - finishing with 6 points, 3 rebounds and 3 steals - but it was for naught in a game the Redbirds refused to win.

.






















78. So far I've only had photos of Quintin Brewer from the rear. Now here's a little face time for the 6-8, 215-pounder. Brewer hits a jump shot over C Tyler McCullough (left photo) to tie the game at 31 in the final minute of the 1st half on Jan. 30. Quintin had one of his better games, finishing with 8 points and 6 rebounds in 24 minutes, but ISU blew a 6-point lead in the last 45 seconds of the 2nd half then blew a 7-point lead with 2:50 remaining in overtime in a frustrating 84-81 road loss to Missouri State. Four nights earlier on Jan. 26 Brewer begins the fast break himself (right photo) after grabbing a rebound against Drake (although I'm betting he got the ball to a guard sooner rather than later). He finished with 2 points, 2 rebounds, and 1 blocked shot in 19 minutes as the Redbirds beat Drake for the second time in January, 76-64.

.





















79. As Quintin Brewer looks on, Paris Lee lofts a shot over the 6-11 Tyler McCullough (right photo) and hits it to give Illinois State a 63-60 lead with 4:54 remaining in the 2nd half on Jan. 30. Paris had 9 points, 6 assists, 5 rebounds, 4 turnovers, and 3 steals in the loss to Missouri State. Lee celebrates (left photo) after hitting a layup and one midway through the 1st half against Indiana State on Feb. 17. Lee got up and made the FT, and the 3-point play were the first three points of a 13-0 run that increased ISU's already big lead up to 34-10. Paris finished with 18 points and 4 assists as the Redbirds picked up their 5th straight win with an easy 78-50 victory ..... But Indiana State would get their revenge.

.



















80. Tony Wills, a 6-4, 185-pounder, battles 6-7 Donte Thomas of Bradley for a rebound (left photo) on Jan. 20 at Peoria; but it doesn't look like either one got this rebound. Wills finished with 6 points, 4 assists, and 3 rebounds in 30 minutes; and the Redbirds, after nearly blowing a 14-point lead in the 2nd half, barely held on to defeat the Braves 55-52. Wills challenges a shot by G Fred VanVleet (right photo), but all he ends up doing is fouling him as VanVleet makes the layup on Feb. 27 at Wichita. The 3-point play upped Wichita State's lead 63-44 midway through the 2nd half. Wills had 5 points and 3 rebounds in the Shockers' easy victory.  

.



















81. Quintin Brewer pulls down one of his 3 rebounds (left photo) against Wichita State during the 1st half on Feb. 27. In the 2nd half Fred VanVleet dribbles away to avoid being trapped by Brewer and Tony Wills (right photo). Three weeks earlier ISU upset Wichita State at home. But the second meeting was all Wichita. The Shockers led by 18 at halftime and cruised to a 74-58 victory to finish atop the MVC standings at 16-2. The Redbirds finished tied for 2nd place at 12-6.

.


82. After shooting 7 for 30 (23%) and scoring just 17 points in the 1st half, the 2nd half starts no better for the Redbirds as Tony Wills is way too late to bother G Brenton Scott while he makes a 3-pointer to give Indiana State a 10-point lead on Mar. 4 in a quarterfinal game of the MVC tournament at St. Louis. Wills finished the game with 6 points, 2 assists, and 3 steals in 34 minutes.

.

















83. Tony Wills tries to knock the ball away as G Devonte Brown drives to the basket (left photo) between him and Paris Lee on Mar. 4. I'm not sure, but I think this is the play where Lee was called for a foul with 10:38 remaining in the game. Brown's 2 FT at that point gave the Sycamores a 13-point lead. In the right photo Lee drives to the basket against G Everett Clemons during the 2nd half. Paris shot just 3 for 13 from the field, finishing with 11 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists, and 2 steals in 37 minutes. Two weeks earlier the Redbirds whipped Indiana State; but the Sycamores turned the tables in this one, leading by as many as 16 points before holding off a late rally by the Redbirds and winning 65-57.
The loss brought a premature end to the season for the Redbirds. Ticked off that they didn't get an invite to the NIT after finishing 2nd in the MVC (well, their overall record was just 18-14), they decided they didn't want to play in any of the minor tournaments.
This season Lee and Wills would form an even more dynamic defensive dreaded duo in one of ISU's best seasons ever. Roland Griffin, as mentioned earlier, was at a junior college this season but without dreads. I can't find anything that says that Quintin Brewer was with any pro team, so I guess he wasn't.
Here are the 2015-16 stats for ISU's four players with dreads.
Lee: 32 games, 30 MPG, 11.1 PPG, 39.4 FG%, 2.7 RPG, 3.7 APG, 1.7 SPG - led team in assists an steals - named to MVC All-Defensive team
Wills: 32 games, 25 MPG, 5.3 PPG, 41.0 FG%, 2 RPG, 1.8 APG, 1.1 SPG
Griffin: 16 games, 22 MPG, 5.9 PPG, 46.8 FG% 2.7 RPG, 1.1 APG
Brewer: 30 games, 16 MPG, 2.7 PPG, 41.3 FG%, 4.1 RPG
.


84. Surely you knew I was going to add a bonus shot of Paris Lee from his senior season. With what he did with his dreads, I just had to. I enjoyed watching him with the red tips so much that I might have included him on my dread all-America team (if I had done one) even though his dreads aren't very long. Lee talks about his dreads in a video from the Central Illinois Proud website (first link below). The second link is to a hilarious April Fool's Day joke article about Lee from the ISU student newspaper.

http://www.centralillinoisproud.com/sports/local-sports/paris-lee-putting-the-red-in-redbirds/625022941

http://www.videtteonline.com/sports/paris-lee-eligible-for-fifth-year-at-wichita-state-dyes/article_cc1a21ac-1679-11e7-9285-9bd3649ebc3c.html
.

No comments:

Post a Comment