Alaska’s Greatest NCAA D1 Player Bracket: Field shrinks to 32

April 22, 2020

During the COVID-19 outbreak Alaska Sports Blog editor Van Williams will take the opportunity to take a retrospective look at Alaska sports.

The first round of the 64-player bracket in the books. We have now sliced the field in half and moved closer to determining Alaska’s Greatest NCAA D1 Men’s Basketball Player.

Vante Hendrix

Dane Kuiper

The opening round was dominated by top seeds, but we did have a mild upset with 10 seed Vante Hendrix of Anchorage knocking off 7 seed Dane Kuiper of Wasilla in a battle between two University of New Mexico Lobos.

The 6-foot-5 Hendrix (West High) just wrapped up his sophomore season while Kuiper finished his college career in 2019. This matchup came down to the wire, but in the end two factors leaned towards Hendrix:

How often were they reach double figures?
Hendrix 8-for-22 36%
Kuiper 24-for-113 21%

Who had the best single-season scoring average?
Hendrix 8.8 ppg 2019-2020
Kuiper 6.4 ppg 2017-2018

Another factor was Hendrix’s career-high 20 points this year against fourth-ranked San Diego State. To do that against that competition is telling. He also had 19 against UNLV.

The 6-foot-7 Kuiper (Wasilla High) pumped in his career-high 24 points in 2017 against 23rd-ranked Arizona. He drained 6-of-8 3-pointers that day – which ranks No. 7 on Alaska’s all-time list.

Only six guys from the 907 have made more 3s than Kuiper in a D1 game. His 24-point effort is 18th among career highs for Alaskans.

Here is how the rest of the first round played out:

FIRST ROUND
1 Damen Bell-Holter (Oral Roberts) d. 16 Mike Dunlap (Loyola Marymount)
2 Kyle Bailey (Santa Clara) d. 15 Doug Hardy (Idaho)
3 Doron Perkins (Santa Clara) d. 14 John Brown (Seattle)
4 Tony Reed (Montana) d. 13 Bryan Anderson (Texas State)
5 Will Egolf (Bradley) d. 12 Devonaire Doutrive (Arizona)
6 Marcus Watts (McNeese State & Florida Gulf Coast) d. 11 Mao Tosi (Idaho)
10 Vante Hendrix (New Mexico) d. 7 Dane Kuiper (New Mexico)
8 Mark Schweigert (Southern Utah) d. 9 Jeff Lentfer (Weber State)

Mark Schweigert

8 Schweigert vs 9 Lentfer
In hindsight, Schweigert probably deserved a better seed. He averaged 14.5 points per game on 48% shooting as a senior at Southern Utah in the 1996-1997 season.

He finished No. 2 nationally in scoring among independent league players. His 39% 3-point percentage was No. 3.

The 6-foot-3 Schweigert (East High) recorded a career-high 22 points against the 22nd-ranked Arkansas Razorbacks in 1996. In that game he faced off with Rucker Park star Kareem Reid, who helped St. Raymond of New York beat Schweigert’s East High squad in the championship game of the 1993 Great Alaska High School Classic.

Jeff Lentfer

Lentfer (Service High) was a steady role player who eventually worked his way into the starting lineup at Weber State. As a senior, he averaged 4.9 points and 5.5 rebounds and helped the Wildcats win the Big Sky championship.

At the 1995 NCAA Tournament, 14th-seed Weber State stunned 3rd-seed Michigan State 79-72. Lentfer played 25 minutes. In the second round, Allen Iverson and 6th-seed Georgetown escaped with a 53-51 win. Lentfer played 23 minutes.

FIRST ROUND
1 Trajan Langdon (Duke) d. 16 Cole Magner (Bowling Green)
2 Jason Erickson (Montana State) d. 15 Donny Judd (Maryland)
3 Muff Butler (New Orleans) d. 14 Brandon Huffman (North Carolina)
4 Roderick Wilmont (Indiana) d. 13 Jay Lewis (Wichita State)
5 John Levitt (Saint Mary’s) d. 12 Michael Godfrey (Grambling)
6 Wally Leask (Washington) d. 11 Ryden Hines (Iona)
7 Kevin Winford (Eastern Washington) d. 10 Jeremiah Bailey (Pacific)
8 Chris Toomer (Liberty) d. 9 Anthony Cousin (Illinois State)

Chris Toomer

8 Toomer vs 9 Cousin
These guys finished their careers two decades a part but found themselves right next to each other in our bracket.

The 6-foot-1 Toomer (West High) gets the nod here based on a better overall career, which concluded in 1994 with a loss to No. 1 North Carolina in the NCAA Tournament.

He ranks top-10 all-time among Alaskans in career games, assists and steals.

But Toomer also produced some of the greatest single-game performances by an Alaskan, like the time he had seven 3s or when he had seven steals. That was the second-most steals by a player from the 907.

Anthony Cousin

Cousin’s three-year career ended in 2013, with his best season coming in 2010-2011. That’s when he posted his career highs with 23 points, eight assists and five steals.

His eight assists are tied for the third most by an Alaskan.

The 5-foot-10 Cousin (South High) was one of the better Alaska guards at getting to the basket. As a sophomore, he averaged 6.8 points, 2.7 assists and 2.6 free-throw trips per game.

FIRST ROUND
1 Mario Chalmers (Kansas) d. 16 Tommy Hobbs (New Orleans)
2 Nick Billings (Binghamton) d. 15 Kwintin Williams (Connecticut)
3 Devon Bookert (Florida State) d. 14 Bentiu Panoam (North Dakota)
4 Jumoke Horton (Saint Mary’s) d. 13 Kamaka Hepa (Texas)
5 Damon Sherman-Newsome (Colgate) d. 12 Kinzey Reeves (Saint Peters)
6 Jacob Calloway (Southern Utah) d. 11 Connor Devine (South Dakota State)
7 Derrick Wilson (Marquette) d. 10 Ray Schafer (Oregon)
8 Chris Bryant (Drake) d. 9 Jack Hobbs (Hartford)

Chris Bryant

8 Bryant vs. 9 Hobbs
Both players produced sold careers that were probably underappreciated in the grand scale of things, but Bryant wins this head-to-head matchup.

The 6-foot-3 Bryant (Metlakatla High) reached double figures in 25 of 78 career games (32%) and pumped in a career-high 26 points against Texas A&M Corpus Christi.

That point total is good enough for 15th among Alaskans. He’s also got games with 21, 19 and 18 points.

His best season came his sophomore year in 2005-2006 when he averaged 8.2 points and made 61-of-182 3s (34%).

Jack Hobbs

On Alaska’s all-time 3-point list, Bryant ranks 12th with 120 while Hobbs is 15th at 110.

The 6-foot-7 Hobbs (South High) ranks in the top 20 all-time among Alaskans in career games, rebounds and 3s.

Hobbs is tied for eighth-best on the single-game rebounds list with a career high of 12. His career high of 18 points came against UMass-Lowell.

His best season came as a junior in 2016-2017 when he averaged 6.3 points and 3.6 rebounds. That year he shot 38% from 3-point land on 53-of-193 shooting.

FIRST ROUND
1 Carlos Boozer (Duke) d. 16 Gary Wilken (Oregon State)
2 Chris Devine (Santa Barbara) d. 15 CJ Hooker (North Carolina)
3 Andre Laws (San Diego) d. 14 Brian Petro (Texas State)
4 Colter Lasher (Houston Baptist) d. 13 Stefan Falke (Lehigh)
5 Larry McBride (Montana) d. 12 Bomet Walden (Murray State)
6 Cameron Rigby (Bradley & San Diego) d. 11 Greg Harton (Southern Utah)
7 Ramon Harris (Kentucky) d. 10 Damon Nicholas (Arkansas State)
8 Jalil Abdul-Bassit (Oregon) d. 9 Jason Kaiser (Weber State)

Jalil Abdul-Bassit

8 Abdul-Bassit vs. 9 Kaiser
In a battle of two-year guys, it came down to their best season and hands down that was Abdul-Bassit.

The 6-foot-4 sharpshooter averaged 8.2 points in 20.0 minutes per game during the 2014-15 season and ranked top-10 in the Pac-12 Conference in total 3s (59) and 3-point percentage (43%).

Abdul-Bassit (East HIgh) netted a career-high 24 points against UCLA and he ranks fourth among Alaskans in single-game 3s with seven.

He helped lead Oregon (31-7) to the second round of the 2015 NCAA Tournament. He pumped in four 3s and scored 12 points in a loss to Wisconsin.

Abdul-Bassit ranks No. 3 on Oregon’s all-time list in career 3-point percentage (429).

Jason Kaiser

The 6-foot-5 Kaiser (Service High) was a UAA legend, but none of that counted in our D1 bracket. Only what he did at Weber State.

His best season came in 1992-1993 when he averaged 7.9 points in 20.8 minutes and made 31-of-86 (36%) from downtown.

Weber State went 20-8 that season and lost in the Big Sky Tournament.

Ramon Harris

7 Harris vs. 10 Nicholas
Remember in 2008 when Harris and Kentucky faced No. 1-ranked North Carolina on national TV?

The Wildcats didn’t show up, losing 77-58. But Harris showed out with a memorable two-handed breakaway dunk to go with his 15 points and three steals.

He registered highs of 16 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists in his 106-game Wildcat career. The 6-foot-7 Harris is one of only three Alaskans with career highs of at least 10 rebounds and eight assists.

Damon Nicholas

Harris (West High) earned 55 starts and averaged 5.0 points and 3.7 rebounds a game over his sophomore and junior seasons. His numbers dropped off his senior season, in large part because he played on a roster packed with future NBA players.

The 6-foot-6 Nicholas (Bartlett) was one of the great Alaska players in the 1990s.

He played only two seasons at Arkansas State, averaging 4.7 points and 4.4 rebounds in 43 career games.