Only about 1% of college players ever make it to the NBA, which means there are a hell of a lot of exceptionally talented (and competitive) athletes out there that had to take up a day job that didn’t consider a tank top and gym shorts to be proper work attire. It’s one thing to win a basketball tournament; that takes commitment. But winning at life? That takes balance. Your buddy in accounting might have gotten some minutes off the bench for his alma mater, but there’s no way he’s leading as good a post-hoops life as these guys.
Reggie Love (Duke), special assistant and body man for President Barack Obama
After backing up Shane Battier on Duke’s 2001 national championship winning squad, Love had the back of the most powerful man in the world between 2009 and 2011. He started working for then-Senator Obama back in 2006 and became his personal assistant during the run-up to the 2008 presidential election. Turns out being the President’s wingman is a pretty good resume builder: Love left the White House to get his MBA at Wharton and is currently editor-at-large for Vice Sports, which, for most folks, would be the coolest job they’ve ever had.
Professional wrestlers Paul Wight (Wichita State and Southern Illinois), and Glenn Jacobs (Quincy and Northeast Missouri)
Wrestling loves it some behemoths, and two of the WWE’s tallest stars both made their bones on the b-ball court before body slamming replaced dribbling.
Jacobs tried a number of wrestling personae before striking gold as the masked mammoth Kane, but at Quincy he was still a baby-faced b-baller. The 6’10” center moved on to Northeast Missouri State University (now Truman State U) on a basketball scholarship for the ’88-89 season, where he shot .62 percent from the field and averaged 6.8 rebounds per game, but surprisingly only blocked one shot. He soon switched to football, which more suited his professional career aspirations.
Wight’s college career had a distinct and unfortunate lack of choke slams, but the 7-footer still threw his weight around as center for the Shockers in the 1991-92 season, averaging 2.0 points and 2.1 rebounds in 21 games. He apparently talked so much trash that he got himself benched multiple times -- probably the only skill that carried over from his playing days to his current day job. Wight has been antagonizing thousands of people in the ring on Monday nights since 1999 as beloved WWE wrestler The Big Show. That said -- how is the Shocker not the name for a spinning variant on a pile driver?
2 Chainz, rapper (Alabama State)
The lanky MC, then known as Tauheed Epps, played guard for Alabama State’s 1995-96 and '96-97 seasons. While he only averaged 2.8 PPG and 1.6 RPG over his career, he did blow up for 14 points and 7 rebounds against Alcorn State in his second year. Basketball got left behind when he pursued a rap career full-time -- which turned out to be a pretty wise choice. Still, according to the video evidence, 2 Chainz could ball out.
Surprisingly enough, 2 Chainz seems to rap more about bowling than basketball. Best 2 Chainz basketball-related lyric: “ 'Member when I used to play basketball? / Now I'm out here playing ratchet ball, ooo!”
Bob Barker, game show host (Drury)
The one true Price is Right host was a guard at the Springfield, Missouri college -- on a scholarship, no less -- until 1943, when he put his education on hold to join the Navy as a fighter pilot. Offenses were still based on the set shot when Barker was playing, which may explain why the final score of the NCAA Championship game during his final season was 42-40 -- in overtime.
Denzel Washington, actor (Fordham)
From 1972-74, Washington played for P.J. Carlesimo’s squad at Fordham University in the Bronx. Although basketball would remain secondary to acting on his talent docket, his ferocious commitment was his hallmark in both. Denzel only made the JV squad, but his natural shooting stroke was enough to help him land the role in Spike Lee’s classic, He Got Game. (Although JV hoop skills only get you so far, as evidenced by the scene when Denzel gets schooled by his son, Jesus Shuttlesworth (aka Ray Allen).
Sinbad, comedian/actor (Denver)
Apparently Sinbad was being courted by the Air Force Academy to come play basketball for then-assistant coach Gregg Popovich but, after being told he’d have cut his afro, he decided to play for the University of Denver. Details on his career at Denver are scant, but he did play varsity for the '76-77 and '77-78 seasons and was repeatedly documented grabbing crazy air. He was also a featured player on their schedule senior year, so his skills are legit. Oh, and he still joined the Air Force later on. Guess it was time for the afro to go.
Tom Selleck, actor (USC)
Magnum P.I.’s mustache was not at its full power when he was playing in the shadow of the Hollywood sign, which is probably why the Trojans lost every game to their crosstown rivals at UCLA during his time on the team. He only scored 4 overall points during his career as a benchwarmer, but he did play one of the NCAA’s top scorers -- in both senses of the term. The 6’4” Selleck stood in as Lew Alcindor -- now Kareem Abdul-Jabbar -- during USC practice plays. He then faced off against Abdul-Jabbar when the rival schools played, but couldn’t do much to deter the UCLA center’s accrual of 2,325 college career points.
Craig Kilborn, comedian/TV host (Montana State)
The former SportsCenter and Daily Show host is 6’5”, so Montana State University was happy to provide a scholarship to get him on its team from '81-84. Though his claim to lead MSU in turnovers has been contended, he was a remarkable deep shooter. Early signs of his career as an anchor on SportsCenter show in his objective analysis of other collegiate players and himself. He went from playing ball in Bozeman to hosting ESPN’s flagship program in Bristol, a leap any college player would die to imitate.
Football players Antonio Gates (Kent State), Jimmy Graham (Miami), and Tony Gonzalez (Cal)
This trio of tight ends are some of the most successful dual-sport athletes of all time and show that football is really just full-contact rebounding. Gates actually had a decent shot at the NBA, as he didn’t touch a football during his time at Kent State, and made the All-American Honorable Mention team during his senior season when he put up a 20-7-4 line. Graham and Gonzalez had more middling college careers, though both ended up being solid rotation players at Power 5 programs, which is no easy feat. Their post-hardwood careers? Well, Gates and Gonzalez are two of the best receiving tight ends of all time, while Graham has racked up four Pro Bowl appearances during his career with the Saints and Seahawks.
Kenny Lofton, baseball player (Arizona)
Lofton is one of the most well-loved journeymen ever to play in the MLB, but before he got to The Show he played behind Sean Elliott and Steve Kerr at the University of Arizona. He went on a couple deep tournament runs with the Wildcats and even recorded some minutes in Arizona’s Final Four loss to Oklahoma in 1988. Lofton and Tim Stoddard are the only two guys to have ever played in both the Final Four and the World Series and, in what has got to be one of the best pieces of sports trivia ever, they both went to the same high school: Washington High in East Chicago, Indiana. Here are your bragging rights, Washington. You earned ’em.
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