It’s no secret that over the years, Georgia Tech has cultivated a rich basketball history. But most impressive is the number of players that have gone on to a long professional basketball career.
The $15 dollar challenge (you heard it coined here first) is basically a mental exercise to build a 5 man basketball lineup on a $15 budget with players ranging from $5 down to $1. One version using NBA greats was recently floated to the internet by the popular BallIsLife twitter account, but like WralSportsFan did with NC State, I thought we could apply this to those that donned the old gold and white.
My basic methodology for picking players and their corresponding dollar values was mostly their accolades as a Jacket but also production in the NBA if applicable. The hardest part was not punishing one-and-dones too much if they had or are having a long and productive NBA career. Just for a history lesson, I tossed in a quick bio for all players.
Enough with the explanation, let’s hop to it.
$5 Mark Price
$4 Kenny Anderson
$3 Travis Best
$2 Roger Kaiser
$1 Jarrett Jack
$1 Stephon Marbury (BONUS)
There have been so many point guards pass through the program that it’s gained the moniker "Point Guard University" over the years. I had to include a bonus one as there were too many great Georgia Tech point guards to limit to just five.
For those unfamiliar with his work, Price was the consummate sharpshooter. He holds the Georgia Tech record in 3-point percentage at a staggering 44%. He also holds school records in steals and minutes played. His work at the next level was equally as impressive, shooting over 40% from three and over 90% from the free throw line, the latter being an NBA record.
Kenny Anderson was one third of a trio of shooters that led the Jackets to the Final Four in 1990. Although it was just two years in Midtown, his college career averages of 23 points, 7 assists, 5.6 rebounds, and 2.6 steals along with a lengthy NBA career cement him as one of the best players this program has ever seen. Travis Best’s 4 year career in the mid-90’s left him sixth on the all-time scoring list with 2,057 points and second in total assists with 692.
Kaiser was one of the greats in college basketball in the 1960s. Just one of 6 of the school’s retired jerseys, he was a 2 time All-American, led the SEC in scoring and made the All-SEC team in 1960 and 1961, was the SEC MVP in 1961, and finished with 1628 points as a Yellow Jacket.
Jarrett Jack will best be remembered in conjunction with fellow current NBA player Will Bynum for leading Tech to the 2004 Championship Game. Stephon Marbury had a more than fine one year career at Georgia Tech, leading the Jackets to a Sweet Sixteen appearance in 1996 while logging 18.9 points and 4.5 assists in 37.9 minutes a game in 1995-96. For many, however, he’s most remembered for his excellent NBA career including being the current NBA points leader among Georgia Tech alums.
$5 Drew Barry
$4 Brian Oliver
$3 Bruce Dalrymple
$2 Anthony Morrow
$1 BJ Elder
Drew Barry is the school’s leader in assists and is part of an extensive basketball family, including his brother Jon who also attended Tech. Brian Oliver was another member of the Lethal Weapon 3 (but is of no relation to the recently departing Brian Oliver Jr.).
Bruce Dalrymple was a do-it-all guard that played collegiately in the mid-80’s. He’s the only Jacket to have at least 1000 points, 500 rebounds, and 400 assists in his career. And if you’re looking for more recent examples of this program’s many prolific shooters, both Morrow and Elder are in the top 6 in 3-point field goals.
$5 Matt Harpring
$4 Dennis Scott
$3 Duane Ferrell
$2 James Forrest
$1 Iman Shumpert
Harpring is another member of the retired number club, and is second and third respectively all time on the GT points and rebounds leaderboard. 3D was the final member of the Lethal Weapon 3 gang and sits at first in 3-point field goals and second in 3-point shooting percentage. Ferrell was a great two way player who had a decade long NBA career while Forrest is remembered for being a great person on and off the floor.
While Shumpert primarily played as an on-ball guard at Georgia Tech, he has played the small forward a large portion of his time as a Knick, and I needed more small forwards for this exercise. Still, he started almost every game for the Jackets in his 3 year career and may be one of the best perimeter defenders to come through Midtown.
$5 Tom Hammonds
$4 Malcolm Mackey
$3 Chris Bosh
$2 Derrick Favors
$1 Thaddeus Young
Tom Hammonds’ jersey hangs in the new McCamish Pavilion on the site where he racked up 885 career rebounds in 122 career games. The man they call Hambone was the definition of a bruiser, fighting for rebounds and cleaning up shots around the rim. He is second all time in made field goals with 853.
Mackey is one of the few players who can rival Hammonds’ durability. He leads the program in most games started with 127, rebounds with 1205, and was another member of the 1990 Final Four team.
This group is completed by one-and-done NBA starters Bosh, Favors and Young. Bosh has been a true superstar at the next level, primarily with Toronto, and while overshadowed by Lebron James and Dwyane Wade on the Heat, is on a path to his third straight championship. Young and Favors are both carving out very solid NBA careers as well.
$5 Rich Yunkus
$4 Alvin Jones
$3 John Salley
$2 Daniel Miller
$1 Luke Schenscher
Rich Yunkus’ list of accolades reads like a curriculum vitae. He averaged 26.6 points and 11.1 rebounds per game for three varsity seasons, was an All-American for his junior and senior seasons in 1969-70 and 1970-71, is Tech’s all time leading scorer in only 3 seasons with 2232 total points, and his jersey number 40 is hanging in the rafters.
The next three players were major forces around the defensive rim, all finishing in the top three in blocks in school history. Alvin Jones is the school’s leader in blocks by a large margin with 425 at almost 3.5 per game. Salley is well known for his long NBA career but as a 4 year player, he was a very productive two way player as a Jacket in the mid-80s.
Miller’s accomplishments are hard to put into perspective having just graduated this spring, but he racked up 286 blocks in 4 seasons, 2nd all time only to Jones, and his 821 total rebounds place him in the top 8 in Georgia Tech history. Luke Schenscher rounds out the group as the 7’1" Australian redheaded fan favorite who anchored the paint for the 2004 Final Four run.
With a budget of $15, my lineup would look like this:
PG: $5 Mark Price
SG: $2 Anthony Morrow
SF: $4 Dennis Scott
PF: $2 Derrick Favors
C: $2 Daniel Miller
My team would certainly not lack shooters, as Price, Morrow and Scott are three of the most acclaimed marksmen this program has seen. I have chosen to dub them the Lethal Weapon 3: Redux. There is also has an abundance of length and shot blocking down low between Favors and Miller as well as some post up ability.
Of course, I would bring back Bobby Cremins to coach them up and lead them to a championship in a tournament against other colleges' $15 teams.
What about you, Georgia Tech fans? What would your $15 team look like?