Ranking the Biggest Oddballs in College Basketball History
College basketball has always had people associated with the sport who are unconventional, unusual and unorthodox.
Those are the "nicer words." Others would not pull any punches and say that those same people are strange, weird or peculiar.
Going in that direction, here is a list ranking the biggest oddballs in college basketball history. These are uncommon players and coaches, who were a little bit off-center, kind of quirky and sort of off-the-wall.
In some cases, their unconventionality made them great. In other cases, it was their downfall.
If an eccentric player or coach is not on this list, lets hear about it! Write a comment and let everyone know why you think that they belong in this group.
7. Pete Carril (former Head Coach of Princeton)
It’s hard to pinpoint the best way to describe the celebrated former Princeton head coach Pete Carril.
To call him “a trendsetter” would not be accurate. He really did not introduce new ways of approaching the game of basketball. Actually, he stayed with ideas and schemes that most coaches had left behind.
During his 29-year collegiate career that began in the late 1960s, Carril always supposed that the best way for his Tiger teams to succeed was for them to pass and cut and share the ball. Those are novel ideas in an era that puts an emphasis on players going one-on-one.
He was irritable, unsatisfied and, at times, surly. He was brutally honest with players, assistant coaches, the media or anyone else on the planet. Carril looked more like a custodian or cab driver than a 500-plus win Ivy League coach.
Including him on this list is not meant to be a put-down.
This Einstein of the basketball world is odd because he did not feel the need to change with the times. Carril is a true maverick and individual.
He gained the respect of his players, staff and opponents by being true to himself and staying with what he believed to be the way the game should be played.
6. Bob Knight (former Head Coach of Indiana)
Bob Knight is another coach who was an individualist of the highest order.
He did things his way and demanded excellence and intense effort from his players at all times.
From an Xs and Os standpoint, few coaches knew the game better than Knight. He prepared his plans and his players like few other coaches at any level.
He was intense to a fault. His passion for the game crossed over, at times, into rage and outrageous behavior.
His renowned chair-throwing incident was an unfortunate example of his occasional odd behavior.
Some of his most unusual moments were in post-game press conferences. The video on this slide captured some of the unforgettable moments where Knight shifted from college basketball coach to a belligerent performer with a confined audience.
Currently, Knight is No. 3 in career wins among Division I head coaches. Unfortunately, the over-the-top moments of his career garner as much attention as his sideline genius does.
5. Bill Walton (UCLA)
On the court, UCLA's Bill Walton was one of the greatest college basketball players of all time. Off the court, he was a unique character who did his own thing and went his own way.
The New York Times’ Pat Jordan described Walton as being:
Well known for his radical politics. He took part in a protest of the Vietnam War that resulted in the takeover of a campus administration building; he claimed that Jerry Rubin was as great an American hero as George Washington, that no one over 35 should be president and that blacks had been oppressed by white Americans for so long that they had every right to shoot them.
Because he was such an adventurous, unconventional person, it has always amazed me that he chose to play for one of the most conventional and conservative coaches in the game, John Wooden
Maybe that is a part of Walton’s genius. He knew that he could not do better than going to UCLA to play for someone that was so different from who he was.
Banners hanging inside Pauley Pavilion did not hurt either.
4. Adam Morrison (Gonzaga)
Gonzaga’s Adam Morrison was a unique player in many ways. After two strong seasons in Spokane, as a junior, Morrison exploded.
He was the nation’s leading scorer, averaging 28.1 PPG.
Morrison was a passionate player, never hiding any emotion or reaction. The most public and publicized event was his end of the game meltdown as time expired in Gonzaga’s loss to UCLA.
This would be his final game as a collegiate player.
It is for this emotional moment that Morrison has been poked, prodded and made fun of the most.
3. Joakim Noah (Florida)
Along with being an exceptional low-post player, Florida’s Joakim Noah was a free spirit.
He was one of the most animated and high-spirited players in college basketball history. His responses to the normal ebb and flow of Gator games were filled with exuberance and energy.
While I don’t advocate indifference and passivity, Noah’s brand of drama during his three years was over-the-top. Everything was celebrated. Expressions of delight or dismay were extreme.
He is definitely comfortable in his own skin. His 2007 NBA draft night attire was a “classic Noah” display: unusual and bordering on bizarre.
If you have not done so, watch this slide’s video clip for one of the more awkward post-game interview moments of all time.
2. Marshall Henderson (Mississippi)
Ole Miss’ Marshall Henderson is one of the most quirky and unbounded players in college basketball history. He is a one-man roller-coaster ride.
Rather than talking about his ability to knock down shots, most of the media coverage he received last year had to do with sideline antics or post-game adventures.
The Rebels could have never made their late-season run without Henderson’s scoring prowess. He was the conference’s leading scorer, and he was named the SEC tournament MVP.
Who knows how far Mississippi would have gone in the 2013 NCAA tournament if they had not been wondering from week to week what Henderson was going to do this time.
He made the decision to not enter the NBA draft and return to campus for the 2013-14 season.
Over the summer, Henderson was suspended indefinitely and at the time of this article has not been reinstated.
The Sporting News’ Mike DeCourcy stated recently that, while Henderson is starting classes and working out with the team, he will miss games in the upcoming season.
1. Scot Pollard (Kansas)
Former Kansas big man Scot Pollard played the game with reckless abandon, hurling his huge frame around the court, causing mayhem for anyone who got in his way.
His unrestrained playing style was matched with an uninhibited personality.
He is one of the few players who made fashion statements while he played for the Jayhawks.
It was not uncommon for him to wear nail polish on the court. When asked about it once, Pollard remarked, "I played horrible in red, but I was pretty good in silver."
Sports Illustrated’s Phil Taylor recalled this about Pollard:
As a senior at Kansas, he wore a dress in a team skit at Allen Fieldhouse, but changed before grabbing a microphone and proposing to his future wife, Mindy, in front of the crowd attending the opening practice. "I'm one of those guys who used to be crazy until I made a little money," Pollard says. "Now I'm eccentric."