Greatest Unsung Heroes in NCAA Tournament History
Not everybody can be Batman. Some people are Robin. And in the NCAA tournament, that's not a bad role to have.
Everyone remembers March Madness legends like Bill Russell, Danny Manning and Carmelo Anthony, but behind those great players were players in supporting roles who were just as important to bringing home the national championship.
These players — the sidekicks — just didn't receive the same accolades of their celebrated teammates. Here's a look at the greatest unsung heroes in NCAA tournament history.
15. Al Dillard, Arkansas (1994)
High school: Jess Lanier High School (Bessemer, Alabama)
Bottom line: There was something electric about Al Dillard for Arkansas during the 1993-94 season as the Razorbacks won a national title behind stars Corliss Williamson and Scotty Thurman.
Dillard, a high school dropout, was a junior college transfer with a game that was about 20 years too soon. The dude loved to shoot the 3-pointer.
In his first season with the Razorbacks, Dillard averaged 8.4 points in just 12 minutes per game and shot almost six three-pointers every game. That's some kind of wonderful.
14. Mel Nowell, Ohio State (1960)
High school: East High School (Columbus, Ohio)
Bottom line: Mel Nowell was the unheralded star on Ohio State's 1960 national championship team that featured future Hall of Famers Jerry Lucas, John Havlicek and Bobby Knight coming off the bench.
Why did Nowell never get the credit he deserved? A lot of that had to do with race.
Nowell didn't make the 1960 U.S. Olympic team because there were only three Black players allowed on the team, and Nowell's Ohio State teammate, Jerry Lucas, already had a spot.
13. Scooter Barry, Kansas (1988)
High school: De La Salle High School (Concord, California)
Bottom line: Perhaps the greatest single NCAA tournament performance of all time came from Kansas forward Danny Manning in 1988, when he led the No. 6-seed Jayhawks to an improbable NCAA championship.
Right behind Manning was Scooter Barry, a scrappy guard who scored a career-high 15 points in an Elite Eight win over rival Kansas State and star Mitch Richmond to send Kansas to the Final Four.
The son of NBA legend Rick Barry and brother of NBA players Jon, Brent and Drew Barry, Scooter Barry played 17 seasons of professional basketball, mostly in Europe.
12. Carl Hall, Wichita State (2013)
High school: Bleckley County High School (Cochran, Georgia)
Bottom line: No player epitomized Wichita State's stunning run to the 2013 NCAA Final Four more than power forward Carl Hall.
Hall was a junior college transfer who played two years for the Shockers and head coach Gregg Marshall, making the NCAA tournament both seasons. He grabbed headlines with his scrappy play and defensive prowess in 2013, and for famously cutting off his shoulder-length dreadlocks before the tournament started.
Hall and the Shockers lost a close game to Louisville in the national semifinals ... even though the Cardinals eventually had to vacate their championship. After his college career ended, Hall played professional basketball overseas.
11. Donald Williams, North Carolina (1993)
High school: Garner Magnet High School (Garner, North Carolina)
Bottom line: North Carolina's 1993 NCAA championship is most remembered for Michigan forward Chris Webber's infamous timeout call as time wound down, but it was Donald Williams who sank the free throws after Webber was called for a technical and sealed the win for the Tar Heels.
And it was Williams who was named Most Outstanding Player of the NCAA Tournament in 1993 after he scored 25 points in the championship game, including hitting five of seven 3-pointers.
Williams played professional basketball overseas for eight years and is currently the girls basketball coach at Wakefield High School in Cary, North Carolina.
10. Tyus Edney, UCLA (1995)
High school: Long Beach Polytechnic High School (Long Beach, California)
Bottom line: The legacy of UCLA's 1995 NCAA championship team rests largely on the shoulders of brothers Ed and Charles O'Bannon, but none that Bruins glory would have been possible without a scrappy, 5-foot-11 point guard named Tyus Edney.
In a second-round game against Missouri, Edney got the ball off an inbound pass underneath his own basket with 4.8 seconds left. The three-time All-Pac-10 selection then went coast-to-coast to beat the Tigers at the buzzer and advance to the Sweet 16. Few finishes in NCAA tournament history have been greater.
Edney played 15 seasons of professional basketball, including four in the NBA.
9. Lee Humphrey, Florida (2006, 2007)
High school: Maryville High School (Maryville, Tennessee)
Bottom line: Lee Humphrey may have been overshadowed by his better-known teammates on back-to-back national championship teams for the University of Florida in 2006 and 2007, but his contribution should be just as celebrated.
Humphrey was the Gators' best outside shooter for both of those seasons and hit three 3-pointers in the national semifinal win over George Mason and the championship win over UCLA in 2006. He scored 14 points in the championship game win over Ohio State in 2007.
Humphrey played eight seasons of professional basketball overseas.
8. Rumeal Robinson, Michigan (1989)
High school: Cambridge Rindge and Latin School (Cambridge, Massachusetts)
Bottom line: Rumeal Robinson played Robin to Glen Rice's Batman for Michigan in the 1989 NCAA tournament, where Robinson averaged 15.0 points and 6.0 assists and hit the game-winning free throws in the NCAA championship game against Seton Hall.
Robinson was the No. 10 overall pick by the Atlanta Hawks in the 1990 NBA draft and played in the NBA for six seasons.
7. Ryan Arcidiacono, Villanova (2016)
High school: Neshaminy High School (Langhorne, Pennsylvania)
Bottom line: Ryan Arcidiacano only averaged 12.4 points for Villanova as a senior in the 2015-16 season, but he was invaluable as a player who could defend and play either guard spot for the Wildcats.
No one was better than Arcidiacono in the NCAA tournament, where he was named Most Outstanding Player at the Final Four and dropped the assist to Kris Jenkins on the game-winning 3-pointer against North Carolina as time expired in the national championship game.
After going undrafted, Arcidiacano played one year in the G-League but has been on the Chicago Bulls roster since 2017.
6. Matt Howard, Butler (2010, 2011)
High school: Connersville High School (Connersville, Indiana)
Bottom line: Butler stunned the basketball world in 2010 when they made it to the NCAA tournament championship game behind head coach Brad Stevens and stars Gordon Hayward and Shelvin Mack.
Then, they made it back the next year.
One of the biggest parts of both of those teams was 6-foot-8 power forward and Indiana native Matt Howard, who defined those Butler teams with his physical play. Howard played seven seasons of professional basketball overseas after his career ended.
5. David Lattin, Texas Western (1966)
High school: Worthing High School (Houston, Texas)
Bottom line: This list wouldn't have been complete without a player from Texas Western's 1966 NCAA championship team — the first to win a national title with a starting five featuring five Black players.
No one defined the team's toughness and attitude more than 6-foot-6 center David "Big Daddy D" Lattin, who famously dunked on future Hall of Fame coach and Kentucky forward Pat Riley in the NCAA championship game.
Lattin was a two-time All-American at Texas Western and went on to play six seasons in the NBA.
4. Thomas Hill, Duke (1991, 1992)
High school: Lancaster High School (Lancaster, Texas)
Bottom line: We all remember Thomas Hill for his bewildered expression, hands on head, after Christian Laettner hit perhaps the most famous shot in college basketball history in a win over Kentucky in the 1992 Elite Eight.
But Hill was much more than just that one moment. He was a key player on back-to-back NCAA championship teams in 1991 and 1992 and was a three-time, third team All-ACC selection.
Hill, no relation to Duke teammate Grant Hill, was picked in the second round of the 1993 NBA draft by the Indiana Pacers but never played in a regular-season game.
3. Chris Douglas-Roberts, Memphis (2008)
High school: Northwestern College Prep Academy (Chicago, Illinois)
Bottom line: If you followed the saga of the 2007-08 Memphis basketball team, you know that eventually they were stripped of all their wins because the star player, Derrick Rose, was deemed ineligible.
But the Tigers made it all the way to the national championship game that year, where they lost a heartbreaker to Kansas, and after Rose, it was junior swingman Chris Douglas-Roberts who had a breakout season and tournament.
Douglas-Roberts averaged 23.3 points in the NCAA tournament run and played seven seasons in the NBA.
2. K.C. Jones, San Francisco (1955, 1956)
High school: Commerce High School (San Francisco, California)
Bottom line: K.C. Jones is most remembered for his time as the head coach for the Boston Celtics on the Larry Bird-led teams of the 1980s, but Jones had a storied career as a player before ever stepping into that role.
Jones was truly Robin to Bill Russell's Batman at the University of San Francisco in the mid-1950s, where the two Bay Area natives teamed to win back-to-back national championships in 1955 and 1956.
Jones and Russell, who won eight NBA titles together, had a 55-game win streak at San Francisco, including a 29-0 record in the 1955-56 season.
1. Hakim Warrick, Syracuse (2003)
High school: Friends Central School (Wynnewood, Pennsylvania)
Bottom line: When Syracuse won its one and only national title in 2003, the headlines belonged to freshman sensation Carmelo Anthony and his star turn.
But astute basketball observers were quick to point out another player for the Orange who made just as big of an impact, Hakim Warrick, who made arguably the biggest play of the NCAA championship game when he blocked a potential game-tying 3-pointer against Kansas as time expired.
Warrick, who won Big East Player of the Year two seasons later, ended up playing 14 seasons in the NBA.