To celebrate the new year and the new decade, the editors at Bull Run have voted on all-decade teams. We started (and are continuing) with the football teams, but today we start our celebration of the greatest decade in the history of UB’s men’s basketball program.
Originally, we were going to break it down by position (PG, SG, SF, PF, C) but the way the Bulls played most of the decade wasn’t defined by the traditional positional roles. Instead, we elected to select three guards (players whose games were predicated on their prowess on the perimeter) and two forwards (players whose games were predicated on their prowess on the interior). Another note about team composition: as we’re doing with the football team, players that transferred and did not finish their college careers at Buffalo were not considered in order to honor the players that did choose to stay at UB.
CJ Massinburg - Massinburg came to UB from Texas as an unknown commodity with little D1 interest coming out of high school. Current head coach Jim Whitesell stumbled upon Massinburg as the program looked to pick-up the pieces after Bobby Hurley bolted for Arizona State, and Massinburg was a key player all four seasons in the blue and white. Massinburg earned his nickname of “CJ Buckets” early in his career, scoring 19 points in his first regular season game, and proceeded to live up to the name during the duration of his career. It’s difficult to keep a summary of Massinburg’s career short, but he helped lead the Bulls to 3 NCAA tournaments, their first 2 NCAA tournament wins, their first AP top 25 ranking, and graduated as the #2 scorer, and #6 rebounder in school history. Not much more needs to be said.
Blake Hamilton - Blake Hamilton was another one of the key pieces that came in and buoyed the Buffalo basketball program during the transition period from Bobby Hurley to Nate Oats. Hamilton’s most memorable moment in his two years in a Buffalo uniform was the shot that earned him the nickname “Big Shot Blake” and sent the Bulls to the Big Dance for the second consecutive season.
Hamilton was a swiss army knife for the Bulls, despite being most naturally a small forward, he stepped into PG duties in his second season when the Bulls were struggling to find an offensive leader. In his senior season, Hamilton averaged 17.5 PPG, 6.2 RPG, and 4.4 APG, and that is good enough to earn Bull Run all-decade first team honors.
Jeremy Harris - Harris came to Buffalo as one of the most highly touted recruits in program history, and he lived up to the hype. The #2 JUCO recruit in the nation, Harris made an immediate impact on the program, averaging 15.5 PPG, and 5.9 RPG on 42% shooting from three. Perhaps the most memorable performance of his UB career came in his first season when he dominated the future #1 NBA draft choice, DeAndre Ayton, and led the Bulls to their first NCAA tournament win.
In his second season with the Bulls, Harris struggled to find the shooting stroke he displayed in his first season, but he upped his rebounding and assist numbers while playing a key role on a team that was ranked in the top 25 the entire season, and won an NCAA tournament game for the second consecutive season.
Dontay Caruthers - Dontay Caruthers made his way to Buffalo from Rochester via the JUCO route. In his three years in Buffalo, Caruthers was known for his relentless defense. In that time, Caruthers won two MAC Defensive Player of the Year awards, and would have likely had a shot at a third if it wasn’t for an injury that slowed him his junior year. Caruthers was a fan favorite that personified everything Buffalo basketball was with their blue collar culture. While defense was his calling card, Caruthers steadily improved his offensive game each season, becoming a shooting threat in addition to a fearless slasher. Over his career, Caruthers averaged 6.9 PPG, 2.7 RPG, 2.4 APG, and 1.4 SPG in just 21 minutes per game. Most Buffalo fans would agree that those numbers don’t accurately portray his impact, as he was most effective coming off the bench for shorter spurts where he could make plays as an energy player.
Wes Clark - Clark was an interesting player in UB history, he only played in 26 games in his UB career after only being eligible for the second semester of his senior season after transferring from Missouri. Despite the short UB career, he was too important to one of the greatest seasons in UB history to ignore. Clark stepped into the UB lineup without missing a beat, in his first game he scored 15 points and recorded 6 assists in a near upset visiting Syracuse. On the season Clark averaged 15.5 PPG, 5.4 APG, 3.5 RPG, and 1.2 SPG. Despite a stellar showing in the regular season, Clark saved his best performances for the postseason. In the three game stretch from the MAC championship game to the NCAA round of 32, Clark averaged 25.6 PPG and 5.3 APG. These performances earned him MVP of the MAC tournament, and helped the Bulls earn their first NCAA tournament win.
Davonta Jordan - Jordan was actually tied in votes with the two players in the “Others Receiving Votes” section, but as the writer of the post I broke the tie and I’m going with Jordan. Jordan started as an underclassman at point guard in 35 of 36 games on each of the two greatest UB teams, that alone is worth noting. His defensive prowess was a key on those excellent teams (all-MAC defensive team each year), and his story is not yet finished. Jordan has really stepped up on the offensive side of the ball in his senior season, averaging 13.3 PPG and 5.5 APG at the time of publishing. Jordan also has a shot at both the career steal and assist records at UB. He’s currently on pace (2.6 SPG) to break the steals record in the final regular season game of the year. The assist record will be a bit tougher to break, but needing just 140 more assists to break it, it’s still within Jordan’s reach. Regardless of his final standing in the record book, Davonta Jordan is one of the most accomplished players in UB history, and for that we recognize him on the Bull Run all-decade second team.
Others Receiving Votes
Zach Filzen - Filzen started his career at Northern Arizona, but in his final two seasons as a Bull he asserted himself as a major factor in the UB backcourt. Known as a sharpshooter, Filzen is 4th in UB history shooting 40% from three, and 3rd in UB history in three point field goals made, despite only playing a major role for two seasons. Filzen averaged 13.6 points per game over his final two seasons in the blue and white.
Jarryn Skeete - Jarryn Skeete never developed into a star player for the Bulls, but he was a key contributor in all four of his seasons in Buffalo. Skeete was a steadying force in the backcourt, playing in the sixth most games in UB history, and making the fifth most threes in UB history. Skeete’s best season came as a junior when he averaged 9.1 PPG, 3.2 RPG, had better than a 2:1 assist-to-turnover ratio, and shot 38.6% from three.