With the 2021 NCAA Tournament about to hit the Sweet 16, now is a good reminder that so many college football players were multi-sport athletes in high school. Some still are. With that in mind, everyone in our college football team is sharing his pick for the one gridiron star they'd like to see on the hardwood in March.
Keep in mind some of these players played basketball in high school. Some even had Division I scholarship offers to hoop if they wanted. With our pick-up captains set, here's who we are picking to be on our team.
Chip Patterson: Ohio State WR Garrett Wilson
Wilson averaged 21 points per game for the Lake Travis High School basketball team and earned All-Central Texas honors, which shouldn't have been a huge surprise considering his dad, Kenny, sits in the top 10 on Davidson's all-time scoring list. Growing up in Dublin, Ohio, before his move to Austin, Wilson played for the same AAU program that produced Jared Sullinger and Aaron Craft, and even though his move to Texas came with a heightened focus on football, the star wide receiver earned Division I scholarship offers for hoops.
He's only 6-1, but that vertical ability we've seen on the field has also been used to throw down dunks on the hardwood. Wilson may give up some size to these other options in one-on-one, but if we're choosing a five for pick-up he's my No. 1 pick and we're winning the game.
Barrett Sallee: Auburn TE J.J. Pegues
Look, it's easy to pick the tall wide receiver who can jump out of the gym. But let's be real, hoops games are won on the glass with the big men. Auburn tight end J.J. Pegues is the perfect man to fill that role. The 6-foot-3, 308-pounder with feet like a ballet dancer would be able to box out, crash to boards and back down any under-sized defender thrown his way.
Pegues showed as a true freshman that he is light on his feet and can leap defenders who dive at his legs. Is there anything to suggest that he wouldn't be able to put up 20 and 10 on a regular basis? Nope.
David Cobb: USC WR Drake London
Drake London could be one of the top receivers in the Pac-12 this season as a junior after racking up 1,069 yards and eight touchdowns on 72 receptions during 14 games over his first two seasons at USC. So his football career looks quite promising, especially when you consider that he'll likely be the Trojans' top target in 2021 now that Amon Ra St. Brown and Tyler Vaughns are headed to the NFL.
But it's fun to imagine what he could do on the hardwood. As a 6-foot-5 wing who averaged 29.2 points and 11.9 rebounds per game in his senior season of high school hoops, London reportedly attracted interest from Kansas and Arizona on the basketball side. Heaven knows those schools could have desperately used his football contributions. But London took a football scholarship to USC with the intention of also playing basketball.
He appeared in two basketball games last season but has since decided to focus on football. There are far more NFL roster spots out there than NBA roster spots, so it's probably a good move. But seeing London nail a few step-back jumpers with a smooth left-handed stroke makes you wonder what he could do on the hardwood.
When you watch Minnesota on defense, it's impossible to miss Boye Mafe. He pops live, he pops on tape, he pops everywhere. It's just pop, pop, pop, pop. And I think the reasons for it on the football field would apply to a basketball court. Can he shoot? I don't know. Does he have to? I'm not so sure!
Mafe is listed at 6-4 and 265 pounds by the Gophers, and he reminds me of a slightly smaller version of Zion Williamson. Also, as Bruce Feldman documented in his annual freaks list last year, Mafe has a vertical leap of 40.5 inches. That's insane for a human being his size! He broad jumps 10'6", runs a 4.57 40, and power cleans 400 pounds. Go ahead, keep him out of the lane. I dare you.
Ben Kercheval: Notre Dame S Kyle Hamilton
One thing that football and basketball have in common is their increasing preference for "position-less" players. At 6-foot-4 and 220 pounds, Hamilton is a safety, but he's also built like a modern-day linebacker. He can deliver the wood just as well as he can play coverage. That carries over to the hardwood, too.
Hamilton has a basketball background. His father, Derrek, was a 13-year pro overseas. In today's game, when 3-point shots matter and small-ball lineups are commonplace, Hamilton would be a perfect wing to bang it inside while also being capable of spacing the floor. He has major ups, too -- his vertical is reportedly more than 42 inches -- so he's available for posterizing.