The masses were robbed of March Madness this year for reasons beyond their control, but the Knicks have players with prior NCAA tourney runs.
Due to the ongoing effects of COVID-19 across the country, one of the greatest sporting events in the world, March Madness, was cancelled. The NCAA tournament is the perfect combination of school pride and David versus Goliath. It allows future NBA stars to further add to their highlight reel; mid-major programs capable of playing and succeeding against the top programs in the country create cult heroes, all within a four-week period.
For the 2019–20 season, that moment won’t happen. As coronavirus continued to take its toll, the escape of sports has been cancelled, saving the fans, coaches and players from contracting the virus. As the NCAA figures out what to do with spring seniors—players who would’ve had one last chance at glory—the tournament went from the idea of playing behind closed doors to called off.
As we look forward to the 2020–21 season and the hope of a NCAA tournament then (please stay inside so we can stop this thing), we look back at tournaments past for current players on the New York Knicks.
Oddly enough, the Knicks have a ton of players with little to no college experience. Mitchell Robinson eschewed his lone season of college to prepare for the NBA draft, while guys like Frank Ntilikina played overseas. Still, the Knicks have a handful of guys who had success in the NCAA tournament. Let’s take a look.
Julius Randle (F, Kentucky 2013–14)
- Julius Randle spent one season at Kentucky but made the most of it with a successful NCAA tournament trip. Even though the Wildcats fell to UConn in the NCAA Championship, Randle was key to Kentucky making it to the final game, finishing with four straight double-doubles from the first round through the Elite Eight. In his last NCAA tournament game, Randle finished with 10 points, six rebounds, and four assists.
Taj Gibson (F, USC 2006–09)
- At USC, Gibson went to the NCAA tournament in all three of his seasons and had mixed results. His best season was his freshman year, where USC made it to the Sweet Sixteen with wins over Arkansas and Texas. As a freshman, he finished with at least 16 points and eight rebounds in all three games. His most memorable moment came during his junior season, where Gibson went a perfect 10-of-10 from the field against Boston College. Taj finished with 24 points, six rebounds, and five assists in his final college win against the Eagles.
Wayne Ellington (G, North Carolina 2006–09)
- A five-star recruit, Ellington arrived at UNC and had the most highs and lows of any Knicks player during his three-year collegiate tenure. 2007 saw him as a bit-part player on a team that lost to Georgetown in the Elite Eight. The following season saw Ellington score in double figures in each of five games as UNC fell to Kansas in the Final Four. 2009 was the year for Ellington—five games of 19 or more points as North Carolina finished 34-4 and won the National Championship over Michigan State.
Reggie Bullock (F, North Carolina 2010–13)
- A member of North Carolina’s star-studded recruiting class that included Kendall Marshall and number one overall recruit Harrison Barnes, Reggie Bullock entered UNC as a top-15 recruit and a key part to a rebuild after winning it all in 2009. It didn’t quite happen, as Bullock suffered injuries and UNC failed to get past the Sweet Sixteen in two of his three years. Bullock’s biggest moment came during his sophomore season, where he finished with 17 points, 10 rebounds, and five assists in a win over Ohio.
R.J. Barrett (F, Duke 2018–19)
- The newest member of the Knicks had his own run in the NCAA tournament, as back then, Barrett played alongside Zion Williamson and carried Duke to the Elite Eight. Though Duke handled multiple different obstacles during their Elite Eight run, Barrett showed off his Swiss army game, finishing with 18 points, four rebounds, and 11 assists against Virginia Tech and 21 points, six rebounds, and six assists against Michigan State.
Allonzo Trier (G, Arizona 2015–18)
- A top-15 recruit in the class of 2015, Trier pretty much walked into Arizona and provided an excellent scoring punch for the Wildcats for three years. Trier’s scoring jumped from 14.8 points as a freshman to 17.2 as a sophomore, and then 18.1 points in his final season. His NCAA tournament history, however, was interesting, as Trier and Arizona lost to Wichita State, Xavier, and then Buffalo. His best run was as a sophomore, where Trier finished with three games over 15 points or more, including 19 points, nine rebounds, and three assists in a loss to Xavier.