There’s no doubt the presence of the “one and done” or even the “two and done” has created an even field in college basketball. Whether you like it or not, now, more than ever, it’s anyone’s guess who will play on that final Monday of the NCAA Division I college basketball season. It’s truly madness.
With that being said, I still well up, yes well up with tears when I see the final home games for college basketball players. It hit me last Sunday as I sat in Xfinity Center watching the Maryland Women prepare to play the Minnesota Golden Gophers. It was the final regular season home game for the Terps as well as the final regular season home game ever for both Brionna Jones and Shatori Walker-Kimbrough, two young women who have grown during their time in College Park.
Now, women’s basketball is a lot different than the men’s game. There is no “one and done” and very few “two and done” situations. The women’s game sees a lot of Senior Day moments but it was still special watching the two say goodbye to a fanbase that has grown to adore them.
Then, on Monday, I watched Frank Mason III say goodbye to the Kansas Jayhawk faithful after spending four years playing in Lawrence. This is rare in the men’s game, especially for a young man who’s grown to be one of better players in the country. Mason, from a tough background, benefited from using all of his college eligibility. You could see the emotions from the young Mason as well as from his dad, who could not control himself. It’s what college athletics is all about.
No, I am not having a “get off of my lawn” moment with players leaving early, because I think it’s their right, but seeing young men and women share those special moments with their families, coaches, teammates and fans is magical.
As my partner Ed Norris says, “It just seems natural,” and I agree. It’s what we grew accustomed to while watching college athletics. We watch to celebrate. Mason’s teammate Josh Jackson, a freshman, gave Coach Bill Self a big hug as well many believe he will leave for the NBA, but it was not celebrated the same as Mason’s. It was acknowledged.
As Damonte Dodd and L.G. Gill prepare for Senior Day Saturday, the Maryland faithful will celebrate the time these two young men dedicated to the program. There will be a different level of appreciation. If that’s Melo Trimble’s final game we will remember his contributions to Mark Turgeon and company, but there is something about seeing it through and that’s what Dodd and Gill have done.