One of the greatest parts of the sporting calendar is yet to come. The NCAA Tournament is a three-week sprint in which 68 teams make the field competing for a national championship.
It is popular as people are looking to follow college basketball expert picks, hoping their brackets win a pool with their friends, family, or coworkers. That game within the game is one reason why fans love March Madness.
Another is the Cinderella stories of smaller schools advancing to the second weekend or simply pulling off an improbable upset of a tournament favorite. The stars of those teams that come out of that are great and will go on to be remembered by fans forever.
The first weekend whittles the field down from 68 to 16 teams, which means games are consistently on throughout the day. Productivity levels at work go substantially lower as a result as teams root for their favorite teams, alma maters, and bracket or survivor picks.
It also means that something crazy can happen at any given moment. There are buzzer beaters, incredible shots, dunks, and plays that change games that will surely find their way on “One Shining Moment” at the tournament’s end.
Here is a look at some of those past stars and what they went on to do.
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Stephen Curry, Davidson
Stephen Curry will go down as one of the most under-recruited players in the sport’s history. He announced his arrival in his second career game with 32 points, four assists, and nine rebounds against Michigan. As a freshman, he broke the NCAA record for made 3-pointers by a freshman. He scored 30 in his first tournament game, but the Wildcats lost to Maryland.
In his sophomore season, Curry led Davidson to wins over Gonzaga, Georgetown, and Wisconsin before losing to Kansas in the Elite Eight. Curry became the first player since Juwan Howard in 1994 to win a regional Most Outstanding Player Award despite his team not making the Final Four.
He finished with over 2,000 points in his career in three seasons and averaged 28.6 points, 5.6 assists, and 2.5 steals in his junior season before becoming the seventh pick in the NBA Draft.
Since he has cemented himself as one of the best basketball players of all-time and arguably the best shooter. He is a four-time NBA champion and two-time NBA MVP winner.
Bryce Drew, Valparaiso
One of the most memorable shots of the NCAA Tournament is courtesy of Bryce Drew.
Valparaiso was down two after a pair of missed free throws. An inbound pass traveled ¾ of the court, and the second pass was flipped to Drew, who nailed a right-wing 3-pointer for the Crusaders to win 70-69 over Ole Miss, which was seeded third.
He went on to be a first-round pick in the NBA, playing six seasons before an additional season overseas. He returned and launched his coaching career at Valparaiso under his dad, Homer Drew, and brother, Scott Drew, before taking over. He went on to coach at Vanderbilt, was fired, and now coaches Grand Canyon.
Christian Laettner, Duke
Christian Laettner played at Duke from 1988 to 1992 before being selected third overall in the NBA draft and having a lengthy playing career. His most famous performance came against another blue blood, Kentucky, in a regional final in 1992.
He received a long inbounds pass and hit a turnaround jumper to beat the Wildcats. It later led to an ESPN documentary entitled “I Hate Christian Laettner” that highlighted that moment and Laettner’s NCAA career. He has the record for 23 tournament games played, 21 tournament wins, 407 tournament points, 142 tournament free throws made, and another 167 attempted.
He played a dozen years in the NBA, was a member of 1992’s “Dream Team” at the Olympics, and tried coaching for a year with the Fort Wayne Mad Ants as an assistant.
Adam Morrison, Gonzaga
Adam Morrison seemingly won every award in 2006 when he led the country in scoring.
Morrison was part of Gonzaga’s rise from mid-major to a top program. He was known for his emotions, good and bad, floppy hair, and mustache. He was one of the top shooters of his time alongside JJ Redick.
He went on to be drafted third overall and played four seasons in the NBA before playing two more overseas. He is currently an assistant coach with Mead High School in Washington state, where he’s been since 2017.