By Carl Lamarre
It’s that time of the month. No, fellas I don’t mean that vexing thing that your lady has to go through. It’s getting warmer. The air is getting a tad bit crisper. The madness is upon us. Half-court heaves, tantalizing losses, the shifting of power within conferences is here. March is here, people. Expectations are paramount. One loss and it’s over. The dance you’ve prepped for, got your suit dry cleaned for, is here.
Legacies have been built. Draft stocks have been raised. This one month is instrumental in the lives of many. Coaches and players alike can either live out their dreams or be rattled by their nightmares. With many of this year’s NCAA national championship contenders, we’ll be going back and celebrating the top five players who impacted their schools and legacies since the new millennium.
Billy Donovan can coach. No, seriously, Billy Donovan can show a lot of people a thing or two in coaching. Why, you ask? A basketball savant, Donovan has led Florida to back-to-back titles and has them currently sitting on top of the college basketball world this season as the probable No. 1 overall seed.
By grooming a myriad of NBA players, it’s easy to see why he’s always in the thick of things in March. While his coaching prowess is to credit, his players on the court are the ones doing the grunt work. The combination of talent and diligence is what has a school like Florida constantly in their dancing shoes come March.
Brewer was the final piece of that stellar frontcourt established by Billy Donovan during the mid-2000s. While Donovan had three starters depart his team after the ’04-05 season, including David Lee, he opted to forge a new legacy consisting of the young trio in Brewer, Noah and Horford. Corey Brewer was the feisty defender who relished in locking up his opponent and–like Noah–did all the dirty work. He was the first player in Gator history to record a triple-double, posting numbers of 15 points, 10 rebounds and 13 assists. In addition to collecting a triple double, he also sacrificed his body six times that game, proving his altruistic ability to lay it all on the line for his team.
While Noah shined in the ’06 NCAA Tournament, it was Corey Brewer’s outburst the following year that clinched the Gators’ second consecutive title. In the Final Four against the UCLA Bruins, featuring Arron Afflalo, Darren Collison and Josh Shipp, Brewer stepped up by leading the Gators with 19 points. In the finale against the Buckeyes, he would finish with 13 points and eight rebounds, and would later be named MOP.
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