The clumsily named Imaginary All-Time Big South Conference Men’s 3-on-3 Basketball Tournament has begun.
Fan voting determines which teams advance in the tournament, which runs through Friday, Feb. 23. Two play-in games helped fill out the eight-team bracket.
Fan voting also determined Winthrop’s four-man team -- three starters and a substitute -- last week, and the Eagles start with the No. 1 seed. Seeding was based on each school’s all-time win percentage in Big South Conference play. The Herald’s Bret McCormick picked the other nine teams, with the help of each school’s sports information director.
Read about the teams and learn about some of the greats that played at Big South schools, even if they didn’t all play in the actual conference itself.
Voting for each round will remain open until 5 p.m. of the following day. New rounds will begin 6 p.m. each night.
1. Winthrop vs. No. 8 Charleston Southern
First thing to note: this is a completely Gregg Marshall-coached team, complete with all the attitude, defensive nastiness and perceived slights. So just know that going in. Second, the top-seeded Eagles have great balance. Scrapper and ball-handler Tyson Waterman runs the show, while Torrell Martin can assume the lead scorer role that he often had to share while playing under Gregg Marshall. Craig Bradshaw gives this formidable team an inside-outside threat. The top seed looks tough.
Tyson Waterman (1996, 1998-2000) - Waterman 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. Waterman was Marshall’s first lead dog at Winthrop, helping the program get to its first NCAA Tournament, and there is no reason to expect he would be a wallflower in this 3-on-3 tournament team.
Torrell Martin (2004-07) - The 6-foot-5 wing is the Winthrop’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. He was also inducted into the Winthrop athletic hall of fame and is widely regarded as one of the program’s best ever players. That would be the case in this 3-on-3 tournament as well.
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. The Kiwi gives this Winthrop foursome height and 3-point shooting.
Off the bench: 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. Walker is a perfect guy off the bench because he could do some of everything.
Charleston Southern handled Presbyterian in one of the two play-in games, pulling 73 percent of the vote to advance to a showdown with Winthrop. Will the Bucs be able to match Winthrop’s size? Don’t ask Nimley, who batted that question away for four years at CSU.
Ben Hinson (1983-87) - Hinson, a 6-foot-4 guard, was a two-time Big South tournament MVP and is the all-time leading scorer in CSU history (2,295 points). The 6-foot-4 guard could really shoot from 3-point range, giving this team the spacing it would need to use its point guard, Nimley, to full impact.
Saah Nimley (2011-15) - The diminutive point guard wizard is Charleston Southern’s third all-time leading scorer and all-time leader in assists. Nimley was a two-time first team All-Big South selection and was named Big South player of the year in 2015. Nimley is the school’s all-time leader in free throws made, and he’d be the engine for this imaginary team’s offense.
Kelvin Martin (2008-12) - Martin is one of three players in Big South history with 1,000 points, 500 rebounds, 200 steals and 100 blocks. The two-time all-conference selection was also a two-time winner of the league’s defensive player of the year award. He gives this Bucs trio more juice in the post.
Off the bench: Brett Larrick (1993-97) - The Bucs’ fourth all-time leading scorer, the 6-foot-4 Larrick is third in CSU history in made 3-pointers. He averaged double figure scoring all four years of college, including 20 points per game his senior season and would have combined well in real life with a point guard like Nimley.
2. UNC Asheville vs. No. 10 Longwood
In a true half-court, 3-on-3 basketball setting, Kenny George would be a force. The 7-foot-7 Bulldog was an immovable mountain at times during his career in Asheville. His effectiveness was limited by having to run up and down the court, but that wouldn’t be a factor in 3-on-3. George is paired with ultra-mobile guards J.P. Primm and Matt Dickey, both capable ball-handlers, 3-point shooters and perimeter defenders. Current Bulldog Ahmad Thomas is a Swiss Army Knife off the bench, giving this Asheville team a dangerous makeup.
Kenny George (2006-08) - The 2008 Big South defensive player of the year, George blocked 140 shots in two seasons. That’s easier to do when you’re 7-foot-7, but George could also score a little, averaging 12.4 points per game his second year at UNC Asheville.
Matt Dickey (2008-12) - Dickey was Primm’s running mate for four years at Asheville, so they’ll have natural chemistry in this 3-on-3 setting. The 6-foot-1 guard is Asheville third all-time leading scorer after topping 10 points per game every year of his career. He was named 2012 Big South player of the year and Honorable Mention AP All-American that same year.
J.P. Primm (2008-12) - 6-foot-1 guard Asheville all-time leader in steals, assists, 5th all-time leading scorer; Primm averaged double-digit scoring his last three years in college and was also above four assists per game every season. Primm was the 2012 Big South Conference tournament MVP, a year after Dickey won the same award.
Off the bench: Ahmad Thomas (2014-present) - The 6-foot-5 guard is one of the best active players in the Big South. He was named 2017 Big South defensive player of the year and was one of the nation’s leaders in steals last season. He also averages close to six rebounds and two assists per game for his career, giving Asheville’s 3-on-3 team versatility.
What’s a college basketball tournament without an upset? The Lancers edged Campbell with a late voting surge (59-55) to advance out of the second play-in game and set up a matchup with UNC Asheville and the inevitable photo opportunity of Kenny George guarding Jerome Kersey.
Jerome Kersey (1980-84) - The 6-foot-7 Kersey scored 1,756 points for the Lancers before playing in the NBA for 17 years with the Portland Trail Blazers and several other teams. At Longwood, Kersey was a two-time NCAA Division II All-American. Longwood’s career leading rebounder averaged over 11 boards per game for the Lancers and is also the school’s third all-time leading scorer and all-time leader in steals. He could do it all, which is helpful in 3-on-3 hoops.
Antwan Carter (2008-12) - Longwood’s all-time leading scorer with 1,886 points and second all-time leading rebounder averaged 15.3 points per game during his four years with the Lancers. With a really athletic, downhill imaginary Longwood foursome, Carter would almost operate as the point guard out of the post.
Maurice Sumter (2003-07) - Sumter scored 1,604 points, fourth all-time at Longwood. The 6-foot-5 guard is Longwood’s Division I all-time steals leader (third overall), giving them more defense to go with Kersey’s quick hands.
Off the bench: Kevin “Coop” Jefferson (1986-90) - school’s second all-time leading scorer with 1,806 points. Jefferson averaged 25.6 points per game his senior season in 1989-90 and is the school’s all-time leader in dunks, with 107. When Kersey gets tired of dunking on fools, Jefferson can check into the game and do the same.
3. Radford vs. No. 6 Gardner-Webb
Radford is another team with a near perfect 3-on-3 makeup. It starts in the middle with Artsiom Parakhouski, better known as “Art,” a Belorussian rebounding and scoring machine worthy of building any Big South team around. Throw in Javonte Green, one of the best all-around players in the league in the last 10 years, and Doug Day, a free-scoring, 3-point stroking guard, and the Highlanders have a team that would get opposing coaches’ kilts in a wad.
Doug Day (1989-93) - The 6-foot-1 guard averaged over 17 points per game for three of his four college seasons. Not surprisingly, he’s the all-time leading scorer in Radford history and second all-time in Big South Conference history in 3-pointers made. The Radford Hall of Fame member gives this 3-on-3 group scoring pop.
Javonte Green (2011-15) - Green could do it all and is a perfect fit for this kind of basketball. He’s the second leading scorer and top rebounder in program history, and won the Big South’s 2014 defensive player of the year award. The athletic and powerful 6-foot-4 forward is also the Big South all-time leader in free throw attempts and second all-time in rebounds. He would dunk on a sucker in a heartbeat.
Art Parakhouski (2008-10) - Parakhouski was that rare dominant center in a league usually full of 6-foot-7 post players. He won the league’s player of the year award both seasons he played at Radford, averaging 16 and 21 points per game. No question Parakhouski would have made an even deeper dent on the school and conference record books if he’d been around longer. The big man makes this Radford team a definite threat.
Off the bench: Anthony Walker (1993-97) - The 6-foot guard gives this Highlander 3-on-3 squad scoring burst off the pine. Walker never averaged less than 13.9 points or 3.5 assists per game during his career at Radford. He also shot 39 percent from beyond the arc and 80 percent from the free throw line (if this is the kind of 3-on-3 hoops that allow free throws).
The Runnin’ Bulldogs’ quartet might be the tournament favorite. No other Big South 3-on-3 team has four former pro players, including 7-foot-2 center Artis Gilmore. Pair him with 6-foot-10 Eddie Lee Wilkins, who played over 300 games in the NBA, and 6-foot-6 scorer John Drew, a two-time NBA all-star that played 11 seasons in the league, and you’ve got a pretty dang good starting unit. Oh, and George Adams off the bench? Come on...
Artis Gilmore (1967-69) - Gilmore played at Gardner-Webb when it was a junior college. The 7-foot-2 center is in the Basketball Hall of Fame after a career that landed him on six NBA All-Star teams and five ABA All-Star teams. The mutton-chopped Gilmore was the 1971 ABA rookie of the year, the ABA Most Valuable Player 1972, and a four-time ABA All-Defensive first team selection. Gilmore transferred to Jacksonville University after his two years at Gardner-Webb, and averaged 26 points and 22 rebounds per game for the Dolphins, leading them to the 1970 NCAA National Championship game.
John Drew (1972-74) - The 6-foot-6 wing played NBA basketball for 11 years, making the NBA All-Rookie team and playing in two all-star games. He averaged 21 points per game for his career. Drew was a prolific scorer at Gardner-Webb, which was still a junior college, averaging 24 and 25 points per game, and 13 rebounds per outing during his sophomore season. Drew was a fine ball-handler too, a complete package that would fit in perfectly in this 3-on-3 squad with the twin towers of Gilmore and Eddie Lee Wilkins.
Eddie Lee Wilkins (1980-84) - Wilkins played in 126 games at Gardner-Webb, the most in school history. The 6-foot-10 post player is the second all-time leading scorer and rebounder in school history. He later played in 322 NBA games, primarily with the New York Knicks. It’s safe to say Gardner-Webb would control the backboards in this 3-on-3 tournament.
Off the bench: George Adams (1969-72) - the school’s all-time leading scorer and rebounder, Adams was drafted by the Milwaukee Bucks in 1972 and played three years in the ABA. A 6-foot-5, 210-pound Kings Mountain native, Adams would be the perfect bench man for this 3-on-3 team, capable of doing everything, especially scoring in high volumes. He averaged over 30 points per game two different seasons during his time in Boiling Springs.
4. High Point vs. No. 5 Liberty
High Point brings a strong group to the tournament, led by the wonderfully named Gaffney native, Arizona Reid, and one of the most dynamic and athletic players in conference history, John Brown. The best of the bunch is probably Gene Littles, who balled for the Panthers in the late 1960s and had a distinguished pro playing and coaching career.
Arizona Reid - Reid is the only player in Big South history to amass over 2,000 career points and 1,000 career rebounds. The two-time Big South player of the year and three-time All-Conference pick is High Point’s fourth all-time leading scorer and fourth all-time leading rebounder. Reid was an Honorable mention AP All-American twice and is the eighth all-time leading scorer in Big South history. He gives this Panthers team some nastiness in the paint.
John Brown - Arguably one of the league’s best-ever in-game dunkers, Brown was an All-Big South pick all four years at High Point, and also a two-time Big South player of the year. He’s High Point and the Big South’s second all-time leading scorer and started the most games in his school’s history. He’s also the Panthers’ all-time leader in steals and second in blocked shots. Brown would bring excitement and defense to the team, giving High Point’s 3-on-3 team a great duo inside.
Gene Littles - High Point’s all-time leading scorer played for the Panthers from 1965 to 1969 and was a three-time NAIA All-American. Littles, who later coached the Charlotte Hornets, scored 2,398 career points, averaging 23.2 points per contest. He played in the ABA, making the 1970 All-Rookie team and winning the 1975 championship with the Kentucky Colonels.
Off the bench: Nick Barbour - Barbour gives this team a sniper off the bench. The 6-foot-3 guard is High Point’s third all-time leading scorer and career leader in 3-pointers made. He averaged over 14 points per game each year of his career and finished with a 40 percent 3-point shooting clip.
The Flames’ starting three isn’t very tall, but, man, can they score. You’ve got Larry Blair, one of the Big South’s all-time best gunners and a pain in Winthrop’s neck in the early 2000’s. Then you’ve got NBA pro Seth Curry, who only spent one season at Liberty before transferring to Duke, but lit up the Big South. And lastly, and perhaps most importantly if there are referees involved, Karl Hess. The longtime college basketball official could play back in his day, too, scoring 30 points or more in 22 different Liberty games. If this trio gets hot from outside, watch out.
Larry Blair (2004-07) - Six-foot-1 guard from Charlotte averaged over 20 points per game in each of his last two seasons in Lynchburg. Blair is Liberty’s second all-time leading scorer, and he’s third all-time in Big South Conference history in scoring. The three-time All-Conference pick also averaged 2.6 assists at Liberty and was the league’s 2004 freshman of the year.
Karl Hess (1977-80) - Hess is Liberty’s all-time leading scorer, after a four-year career in which he averaged 19.8 points per game. Hess was a National Christian College Athletic Association All-American in 1980, and he’s become a very prominent college basketball referee in the last 10 years. That can’t hurt, right?
Seth Curry (2008-09) - Curry only played one season at Liberty, earning Big South freshman of the year honors in 2009. It was a great one season; he averaged 20.2 points per game. The 6-foot-2 outside marksman continued to improve in the ACC and has played in the NBA for last five years. Combined with Blair, Curry gives this team real firepower from beyond the 3-point arc.
Off the bench: Peter Aluma (1993-97) - A big man is conspicuously absent from the Flames’ starting three. So Aluma is a no-brainer to come off the bench. The Nigerian is Liberty and the Big South Conference’s all-time leader in blocked shots. He averaged 3.1 rejections and 14.4 points per game during his college days. Aluma played briefly in the NBA.