With the NCAA Tournament on the horizon, let's look at the D1 Nation Alumni who are going to have the opportunity to experience this special event. Many of our most outstanding alums never had the chance to know this feeling, especially those in "one bid" conferences.
As a father I had the opportunity to go to Birmingham, Alabama back in 2008 and watch my son and his team, the South Alabama Jaguars. Unfortunately they were beat by one of the first Butler "Cinderella squads which have now become household names.
This year, the storied D1 Ambassadors program has 10 players in the field of 64 teams. Several have a chance to make a huge statement; individually and for their respective teams.
Nate Frye New Orleans 10.3 ppg
Houma, Louisiana native, Senior Nate Frye is a key cog as the 6th man on a Privateers squad that earned their spot in the dance with an overtime win over Texas A&M-Corpus Christi in the Southland Conference Championship. He's logging 25 minutes per game and dishes out over 3 assists and 3 rebounds per contest at the guard position.
Christian Cunningham Jacksonville State
Albuquerque, NM native, Christian Cunningham has been a pleasant surprise in his breakout soph campaign. His yeoman work on the boards has been a revelation in helping Jacksonville State's epic turn around. The Gamecocks upended top seed, Belmont and Tennessee-Martin to win the Ohio Valley title. He logs 26 minutes per game, 8.4 ppg and 8.2 rebounds per game.
Johnny Azzinaro Bucknell
Bucknell was the class of the Patriot League. San Antonio native, Senior Azzinaro averaged 8 minutes and 3 points per game. He has seen his floor time rise as the season has hit it's stretch run.
Jemerrio Jones New Mexico State
Memphis, Tennessee native, Jones was the Junior College Player of the Year at Hill, and he took little time to adjust to Las Cruces, NM as he was also on the WAC All Newcomer team. As the Aggies potent 6th man the versatile wing has helped lead his squad over Grand canyon and Cal State Bakersfield to win the Western Athletic Conference. In 24 minutes per contest he averaged 9.9 ppg, 8.5 rpg
Jordan Murphy Minnesota
San Antonio, Texas native Jordan Murphy is a key reason that the Gophers had a record turnaround and 24 wins. The Sophomore averaged 27 minutes, 11.2 ppg and 8.8 rpg. Included among those stats were a dozen double doubles.
Canyon Barry Florida
After an outstanding career at Charleston, grad Senior Canyon Barry headed to Gainesville where he was the Gators 6th man. The Colorado Springs, Colorado native averaged 21 minutes and 12 ppg. Injuries to Florida's front line has them reeling and NBA Hall of Famer, Rick Barry's youngest son will have to step it up or else Florida will be Gator bait.
Avery Woodson Butler
After three excellent seasons at Memphis, Grad Senior Avery Woodson took his back court leadership to the Bulldogs. The Waynesboro, Mississippi native averaged 21 minutes and 8.6 ppg for the often times darlings of NCAA Tournaments past.
Johnathan Motley Baylor
The Bears will go as far as Junior Johnathan Motley will take them. The Houston, Texas native averaged 30 minutes, 17.3 ppg and 9.9 rpg. He will be the latest member of the D1 Nation to go in the NBA Draft this coming June as he's projected anywhere from late in the lottery to the 25th pick of the First Round.
Bruce Alford UCLA
What else can we say about the Senior and the Coach's son? The Albquerque, New Mexico native keeps proving doubters wrong as he's move to #6 all time on the Bruins scoring list and #1 in made 3 pointers. he averaged 15.8 ppg in the high octane Bruins offense and he's going to need to continue that hot hand if they want a title in Westwood.
Rem Bakamus Gonzaga
Senior Walk On and clubhouse leader, Bakamus a Longview, Washington native is candidly a cheer leader for his team mates come game time. But anyone who knows the game understands what high character guys like him mean in the locker room and in practice, contributing greatly to game preparation.