Espo List- Favorite UMass Hoop Players

I’ve been watching UMass basketball since my brother was a student there back in the mid to late 70’s and he took me to some games.  The majority of those years have been spent watching some pretty poor basketball aside from the Calipari glory years.  Here we go with my top 7

7.) Carmelo Travieso (97)- Carmelo was a three point specialist on the Final Four team of 95. He was part of the Puerto Rican backcourt with Edgar Padilla. Carmelo had one of the best shooting strokes I have ever seen, big game player and really improved his all around game in the four years he was at UMass.

6.) Horace Neysmith (85)- Horace was on some bad UMass teams but he was a bull. An undersized power forward who would not be denied on the boards and a decent scorer as well. UMass played a decent amount of games in the Springfield Civic Center during his years and got to see him play quite a bit. No matter the opponent or score, you knew you were getting a full effort from Mr. Neysmith

5.) Derek Kellogg (95)- Derek was the point guard on the first true truly great UMass team of the Calipari era. He was an old school point guard. Pass and run the offense first, shoot much further down the line, sometimes not at all, to the point it was painful. Derek was a high school star in Springfield. When he first set foot on the UMass campus, at his first Midnight Madness practice, I said, he never plays a meaningful minute at UMass. Calipari had the program on the rise and I didn’t see Derek stepping up. He did and went onto have a magnificent career. He is an assitant now with Calipari at Memphis.

4.) Duane Chase (89)- Duane played in my early years at UMass on some really horrific teams. His presence alone made game attendance mandatory. The team would lose you knew that and you knew Duane would have at least two oh my god dunks during the game. He was a high flyer to the max.  He never rounded into a complete player but he spiced up alot of bad nights at the Cage.

3.) Anton Brown (92)- Anton Brown along with his backcourt mate Jimmy McCoy led the UMass program out of a decades long morass (great word).  They were Calipari’s first recruits and they started and starred for four years. Anton was a fabulous point guard, he could score and defend but the pass was his speciality. I’ve never seen a guard at UMass smoother with the ball and a pass and there have been some very good ones. Nothing better than Anton Brown alley oop pass from beyond halfcourt to the man further up the list. A real nice guy to the times I was around him on campus.

2.) Lou Roe (92)- UMass’s first real star in the Calipari era. Jimmy McCoy was but he did not acheive the levels Lou did with national press, awards and reputation. Dick Vitale nicknamed Lou, TV Lou Roe because whenever the bright lights were on a big night was coming from Lou. Besides being the best forward I have seen at UMass, Lou was a worker. A good night or a bad night, you were getting a true effort from him.  He was one of my Dad’s favorites and I was able to arrange a meeting between them once at our favorite off campus site. Lou was great to Dad and Dad never forgot it and often bragged of when he met Lou Roe and what a nice kid he was. Can still hear my Dad and the crowd yelling “Loooooouuuuuuuu”

1.) Will Herndon (92)- Will is another high flyer for this group. He was a 6’3 power forward. Will transferred from Richmond and lit up the Amherst campus right away in pick up games around campus even before he got on the court. Will played all out all the time. He jumped center, blocked shots, ripped rebounds and regularly changed games with other worldly dunks. As good a leaper and dunker he was, I never saw Will do a dunk contest dunk as good as any 20 of his in game dunks. He was explosive! We used to bring nip bottles into the games and we do a nip for each Herndon dunk, we were out of nips pretty quickly every night.  I got to play some pick up ball with Will and he was a just super guy off the court as well.

Side story on Will. When I was at UMass, they played at the Curry Hicks Cage, which was an old school gym, bleachers and all, only held maybe 4,000. As a junior and senior I was friends with Thorr Bjorn in the ticket office and Thorr would get a ticket for my Dad for a few games a year and make sure there was room for my Dad and his wheelchair along the baseline. This was before handicapped seating.  One night, Will was not having a good game and kept being subbed for. At one point in the 2nd half, he got a big blocked shot and the ball went right to my Dad who caught it.  For those of you who don’t know, my Dad was a double amputee for his legs. Will came over to get the ball and my Dad said nice block Will! Will said, “Thanks, I think me and you are the only ones not getting to play tonight” Dad had a good laugh at that. Well, he found out in a column about Will later in the year that Will’s Dad was an amputee as well. He was a Pittsburgh policeman and was injured in a car accident. Reading that and putting it together with Will’s comment to him, cemented Herndon as #34 in your program but #1 in my Dad’s heart.

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