Imagine a 3-on-3 tournament played by the best men’s basketball players from every Big South Conference school.
(Keep those eyes closed.)
Whether the tournament is the type of 3-on-3 basketball played on a concrete half-court with free take-backs and that one cat always complaining about hand-checks, or an NBA Jam video game-type fantasy is up to the voter.
Envision Winthrop’s 3-on-3 team. How would it look? What’s the best variety of skill sets and physical attributes to marry into a perfect trio?
And how should accomplishments at the NAIA level -- where Winthrop basketball humbly started -- be weighed compared to the feats of Eagles that played in NCAA Division I?
(Open your eyes, if you haven’t yet.)
Here is your chance to make these decisions. Vote for the three players that will represent Winthrop in The Herald’s Imaginary All-Time Big South Conference 3-on-3 men’s basketball tournament, which will run next week.
You can pick the team that you think would perform best at the playground, vote for the trio that you think are the best in school history, or choose the three most handsome.
Voting began Wednesday afternoon and runs until 1 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 16.
Once the Winthrop team is picked, it will join the 10-team field for next week’s imaginary 3-on-3 tournament. Fan voting will decide which teams advance. Three-man teams from the other nine current Big South schools were selected by Bret McCormick, with the help (in most cases) of sports information directors at each school.
Be an informed voter and check out the candidate profiles for Winthrop’s 3-on-3 team. And don’t forget to look for next week’s tournament.
The candidates (alphabetical order)
Bennie Bennett (1978-1981) - One of the original Winthrop men’s basketball players, the late Clover native averaged double-digit points each of his three years in Rock Hill. Bennett is in Winthrop’s top-10 all-time in assists and free throws made, and also a member of the school’s sports hall of fame.
Craig Bradshaw (2004-07) - The 6-foot-10 New Zealander was a key cog in Winthrop’s great 2005-06, 2006-07 Gregg Marshall teams. Bradshaw earned All-Conference honors in 2007 and was the MVP of Big South tournament that same year. He averaged double-digit scoring his last two years in Rock Hill and played in three NCAA Tournaments.
Charles Brunson (1979-82) - Winthrop’s second all-time leading scorer (1,850 points) and its all-time leading rebounder (913), Brunson was a two-time NAIA All-American for some of the first teams in the program’s history. The 6-foot-8 post man from Great Falls averaged 20.1 points per game for his career and made 100 more field goals than any other Eagle in school history. Brunson is a member of the Winthrop athletic hall of fame.
Xavier Cooks (2014-18) - The only player in this list that is still active, the 6-foot-8 Australian is one of Winthrop’s most unique men’s basketball talents. He’s the school’s all-time leader in blocked shots, second all-time in rebounding and a two-time All-Conference selection (certain to be three this year). As of Feb. 14, 2018, Cooks was the third all-time leading scorer in Winthrop history and recently became the first player in Big South Conference history with 1,500 points, 800 rebounds, 200 assists, 175 blocked shots and 100 steals. He’s also just the eighth player in league history with more than 200 blocked shots (203), and just the seventh with over 900 rebounds (915).
LaShawn Coulter (1990, 92-95) - Winthrop’s second all-time leading scorer and also second all-time in minutes played. Coulter averaged double-digit scoring each year of his college career, graduating with a 14.8 points per game career scoring average. The Newton, N.C. native shot close to 38 percent from 3-point land during his four years.
Chris Gaynor (2005-08) - Gaynor led Winthrop to four straight NCAA Tournament appearances, including the school’s lone win in the Big Dance, in 2007 over Notre Dame. Gaynor started a school record 129 games in four years and is second all-time at Winthrop in minutes played, assists and steals. A strong outside shooter, the 5-foot-10 guard averaged 7.8 points per game, never averaging double-digit scoring in his four years. The Eagles were 101-31 while the Winston-Salem native was running the point and he was also named the 2008 CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major National Most Valuable Player. Gaynor was recently inducted into the Winthrop athletic hall of fame.
Michael Jenkins (2005-08) - The Kinston, N.C. native goes down as one of the most improved players in Winthrop basketball history. Jenkins is tied for the school record for number of games played (131) after helping the Eagles to four straight NCAA Tournaments. He was a two-time All-Conference player, the Big South Tournament MVP in 2008, and averaged at least 13.9 points per game in each of his last two seasons. A dangerous 3-point shooter, Jenkins is one of just two Winthrop players to hit at least 100 3-pointers in one season.
Keon Johnson (2013-17) - Recently graduated guard ended his career as Winthrop’s all-time leading scorer (2,076 points). He also played the most minutes in school history, made the most 3-pointers in school history (295), was named two-time All-Conference and was the 2017 Big South player of the year and 2017 Big South Conference tournament MVP. Johnson also made an impact at the conference level, making the most free throws in league history (517) and finished as the seventh all-time leading scorer in Big South history. The diminutive guard led the Eagles to the 2017 NCAA Tournament.
Greg Lewis (1999-2002) - Ohio native was a two-time All-Conference pick, Big South player of the year (2002) and two-time Big South Tournament MVP, in 2000 and 2002. Lewis sandwiched an injury-shortened season with a pair of seasons averaging over 15 points per game, and hauled in 10.1 boards per game his senior year. Lewis led the Eagles to a pair of NCAA Tournaments and is a member of the school’s athletic hall of fame.
Torrell Martin (2004-07) - Martin’s stats aren’t totally indicative of his impact, but he’s widely viewed as one of Winthrop’s best players ever. The 6-foot-5 wing is the school’s sixth all-time leading scorer, a three-time All-Conference pick and two-time MVP of Big South Conference tournament, indicative of his big-game abilities. The Columbia, S.C. product averaged 12.8 points in his 108-game career and shot 39 percent from the 3-point arc, while playing in three NCAA Tournaments. He was also inducted into the Winthrop athletic hall of fame.
Fred McKinnon (1983-86) - Florida-born scorer averaged 16.6 points in three years at Winthrop, scoring 21.1 as a senior. The 6-foot-6 forward was Big South player of the year in 1986. He also made All-Conference that season, the first that the Eagles played in the Big South.
Keon Moore (2013-15) - Moore only played two years at Winthrop after transferring from Catawba College, but he was a dynamic scorer in those two years. Currently playing in Switzerland, Moore scored exactly 1,000 points in two seasons, averaging 14 and 18.5 points per game, while shooting nearly 42 percent from 3-point range. The Bertie County, N.C. native is one of the best 3-point shooters in school history, and one of just two Eagles to make over 100 triples in one season.
Rick Reise (1978-81) - One of Winthrop’s original basketball stars, Riese followed coach Nield Gordon and several teammates to the school from Newberry College. Riese is still Winthrop’s all-time leader in assists and steals, averaging over four pilfers per game three different times. Riese, in fact, holds the school record assists in a single game (17), season (317) and career (656). He also had a game with seven blocked shots and is a member of the Winthrop athletic hall of fame.
James Shuler (2003-06) - two-time All-Conference pick and one of two players in Winthrop history to make over 400 free throws. Shuler made a school record 18-of-18 free throws in a game against High Point in 2006. The 6-foot-6 Florida native averaged over 12 points per game each of his last two years at Winthrop, both of which ended in NCAA Tournament appearances.
Tyrone Walker (2000-04) - Walker is the only player in Winthrop history to make All-Conference all four years of his career. The 6-foot-6 North Augusta native was also the 2000 Big South freshman of the year and played in two NCAA Tournaments. He averaged 10.9 points per game over his career and shot 37 percent from 3-point range.
Greg Washington (1985-89) - The 6-foot-5 Hemingway, S.C. native is the school’s fourth all-time leading scorer. He averaged 14.1 points over his 115-game career and is also in the school’s all-time top-10 in rebounding. Washington made the Big South All-Tournament team twice.
Tyson Waterman (1996, 98-2000) - Waterman was instrumental in Gregg Marshall’s development of Winthrop into a top tier mid-major basketball program, helping the Eagles to their first two NCAA Tournament appearances. He finished his career as Winthrop’s fifth all-time leading scorer (1,461 points) and third in games started (105). A 5-foot-11 guard, Waterman was a three-time All-Conference pick and the 1996 Big South freshman of the year. He averaged 13.2 points per game for his career and was inducted into the Winthrop athletic hall of fame.