A thousand images pop up when you hear “the 1990s.” Personally, I think of third-generation Camaros, Dana Carvey, and “skip protection,” but we all have our things. Things that just stuck because, for one reason or another, they fit perfectly into their time and place.
These are those things, as concerns college basketball. These are the college basketball players who represented the zeitgeist of the 1990s the best, through their attitudes, their hair, and through sheer fate and chance.
Bryant “Big Country” Reeves, Oklahoma State (1991-95)
Man, oh man. “Big Country” or as coaches sometimes call him, “Country,” looked like a cartoon version of an Oklahoma sheriff and would beast on fools in the post.
In 1995, Country, who weighed around 300 pounds and came from an Oklahoma town of 200, was a full-blown phenomenon, and he led Oklahoma State to the Final Four.
He was taken sixth overall by the Grizzlies in the 1995 NBA draft, and averaged 13 points and seven rebounds in six NBA seasons.
Toby Bailey, UCLA (1994-98)
Try to think of something more 90s than an open-court reverse dunk. You can’t. And open-court reverse dunks were Toby Bailey’s thing.
That’s a beautifully executed reverse dunk, in the 90s style, for a team that would go on to win the national title.
Felipe Lopez, St. John’s (1994-98)
There have been a lot of “Next Michael Jordans” over the years, but one of the first was Felipe Lopez, a Dominican-born guard who played at Rice High School in New York. What nobody knew at the time was that his fame as a high school kid was just the beginning of an explosion in coverage of basketball prospects.
Lopez played at St. John’s from 1994-98 and, as you already know, did not turn out to be the next Michael Jordan. Still, he was pretty good. Lopez was a first-team All-Big East pick as a senior, was a first-round draft pick in 1998 and played in the NBA until 2002.
Harold Miner, USC (1989-92)
Before Felipe Lopez, there was Harold Miner, who had a bald head, could really jump, and thus became known as “Baby Jordan.” Miner’s coach at USC, George Raveling, said that was the worst thing that ever happened to Miner, who was the national player of the year in 1992, but whose pro career amounted to little more than a couple of Slam Dunk championships.