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How college hoops' greatest 3-point scorer accidentally became just that

By Matt Norlander | College Basketball Writer

Little-known Travis Bader has now made more 3s than any D-I player ever. (USATSI)
Little-known Travis Bader has now made more 3s than any D-I player ever. (USATSI)

The greatest 3-point-shot-maker in men's college hoops history only received one D-I scholarship offer, had to redshirt his first year and was expected to play about five minutes per game -- maybe -- once he was eligible.

His origin story is something of an accident, the fault of two former teammates. We'll get to that in a moment.

But in case you missed it, Oakland Golden Grizzlies senior Travis Bader broke J.J. Redick's 3-point record on Sunday, sinking six treys to move his career mark to 461. Redick, now an eight-year NBA vet, previously held it with 457 triples during his time at Duke. Bader is a career 40.5-percent shooter from beyond the arc. He broke the record with 6:17 left in the first half of Oakland's 86-64 loss at Milwaukee. Bader called for the play, a baseline out-of-bounds set that allowed him to come off two screens and get the shot off.

"Honestly, I'm happy it's over," Bader told CBSSports.com. "Obviously it's a great thing for me, great thing for Oakland University. To be mentioned in the same category as J.J. Redick is unbelievable. I grew up watching and idolizing him as a great shooter."

For Bader, the timing of the milestone was appropriate. He's cultivated this record practically anonymously over the past four seasons, and to do it hours before a Super Bowl was only fitting. But his story of getting to this record -- and it would appear he will smash it in the process, clearing 500 by the time this season is done -- is pretty great.

Let's flash back to to the morning of Friday, Nov. 12, 2010. The place: Morgantown, West Virginia. The Grizzlies are getting ready to leave from the team hotel for shootaround at West Virginia. They're prepping to open the season against a team that was coming off a Final Four appearance. Everybody's ready to go -- except two guys: Reggie Hamilton, who'd transfered from UMKC and not yet played a game for Oakland, and Ledrick Eackles. They walk on the bus one minute late.

"It's 11:46 instead of 11:45," Oakland coach Greg Kampe said. "If it's the 15th game of the year, you make a smart aleck comment. I don't give a shit then. But because it's the first game, you can't allow it to happen. You do that for the first game, it'll be five or 10 minutes by the 15th game. So I went off on them and told them they weren't starting."

Kampe reacted quickly, not knowing who the hell he'd start in their place. Bader, who was about 6-4 and 160 pounds, got the nod. He went to shootaround, was really nervous, and eventually needed to call one of his big sisters to calm him down.

Bader went on to score eight of the team's first 10 points.

"He looked like McLovin," Kampe said. "Ever since, he's been the [3-point] guy."

Hamilton would go on to become one of the best players in Oakland history, averaging 26.2 points his senior season of 2011-12. In that season Hamilton and Bader became one of the few backcourt duos ever to each make more than 100 3-pointers in the same season.

"To this day, Reggie and me joke that him being a minute late was the best thing that ever happened to me," Bader said.

Of all Division I schools, Bader was only offered by Oakland coming out of high school. He grew up a 10-minute drive from Michigan State, where his dad spent eight years as a director of basketball operations. The plan was to walk on with the Spartans if no D-I offer ever came. Bader spent his high school years splitting time between tossing shots in an empty Breslin Center after school and practicing under fading sunlight at his best friend's house, shooting on his hoop even after the moon would show.

That friend, Matt Domagalski, wound up playing golf at Oakland. Domagalski's sister would tease him about keeping them up, the sound of the ball relentlessly bouncing well after dinnertime. Bader would've shot in his own driveway, except a faulty hoop the family purchased wasn't stable and wound up falling over one day, denting the roof of Bader's car.

"The key for him breaking this record is his freshman year he made 94 3s," Kampe said. "He was so good that year, but nobody [saw it coming]. Since then he's gotten physically bigger and stronger."

Kampe said Bader had been pressing in recent games with the record starting to get closer -- but not fast enough. Eventually Kampe started being a little tougher on Bader, which resulted in his senior sharpshooter to be more aggressive and eventually click back into old habits.

Oakland's now a 9-15 team and 4-5 in its first year as a Horizion League member. Bader, who probably has the best Twitter handle of any college hoops player, is averaging 19.5 points and shooting 39.2 percent from deep.

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