Here are 33 of the best names in the sport. We’ve got alliteration, basketball-related references and a few surprises.
The All-Lingo Team
Some DI men’s basketball players may have been destined to star on the hardwood since birth, thanks to a last name that immediately makes you think of running, jumping, shooting or some piece of basketball equipment.
Oregon guard Rivaldo Soares (pronounced SOR-ez) joined the Ducks in the offseason after starring at South Plains College, where he averaged 15.2 points and 6.8 rebounds per game last season. He earned NJCAA All-America honors in 2021. With the last name of Soares, it’s good that the Ducks’ junior is 6-6 and an effective rebounder — in other words, someone who’s capable of soaring. UConn’s Richie Springs, 6-9, is in the same boat.
Other selections for the all-lingo team include BYU’s Townsend Tripple (he shot 42 percent from 3 as a senior in high school, so the name fits), NC State freshman guard Breon Pass and Buffalo freshman Kidtrell Blocker, who, at 6-5, has enough size to record a handful of blocks this season.
Blocker’s teammates Laquill Hardnett and Josh Mballa each deserves a mention, too. Mballa is quite the baller, averaging 15.3 points and 10.8 rebounds per game last season, and the rims are often quite soft for the 6-8 forward Hardnett, who shot 72.2 percent from 2-point range last season.
While playing for Winthrop last season, Texas Tech’s Adonis Arms made good use of his arms. He scored 10.5 points per game, he averaged nearly five rebounds and he shot 35 percent from 3.
The All-Alliteration Team
There’s no shortage of “F” sounds when talking about Florida’s Phlandrous Fleming Jr. — but don’t worry, he’s a guard, not a forward — or Phoenix Ford of UTSA. There’s Devonaire Doutrive (Boise State) and Darlinstone Dubar (Hofstra).
Don’t forget about Boo Buie (Northwestern), Chuck Champion (Albany) or Tony Toney (UAB).
The All-Assist Team
We’ll define “assist,” at least in this context, as when a player’s first name metaphorically sets up the player’s last name to deliver on a great full name. Think of it like an alley-oop.
There’s Loyola Chicago’s Saint Thomas, who will have to adjust to winters in the Windy City, which is much colder than the Caribbean island of St. Thomas that shares his name.
In a different context, Drake’s Roman Penn may have been used to make official some of the first laws in the Earth’s history, which could’ve been celebrated ancient Romans on Nobal Days (Tulane).
Marquette’s Olivier-Maxence Prosper is just asking for a shorthand version of his name, a la Agent 007: “Prosper…Max, Prosper.”
You can only assume that Southern Illinois sophomore guard Chris Cross has a sweet crossover. He played in five games as a freshman.
In another context, Hunter Woods (Elon) sounds like a potentially tumultuous location to go, and so is the offensive glass if you’re one of Elon’s opponents. Woods’ 27.7-percent defensive rebounding rate ranked 16th nationally last season, per kenpom.com, which means that for every 10 shots that one of his opponent’s missed when he was on the floor, Woods grabbed almost three of them, on average.
Churchill Bounds is a 6-10 freshman at Central Arkansas and given his stature, he could be a force with which to be reckoned.
Loyola (MD)’s Golden Dike, a 6-10 forward, in many ways lives up to his name. According to Merriam-Webster, a dike is a barrier preventing passage, especially of something undesirable. Dike prevents the passage to defensive rebounds (his offensive rebounding rate of 11.6 percent in conference play ranked first in the Patriot League, per kenpom.com, and he ranked second in free-throw rate, which measures how often a player gets to the free throw line, with a rate of 68.7 percent, or roughly seven attempts for every 10 field goal attempts.
The All-Too-Cool-For-School Team
Maryland’s Aidan McCool is obviously the team captain and Dayton’s Kobe Elvis has a strong case to be the first mate, with the singularly recognizable names of two cultural icons that range across pop culture from sports to music.
The actor, director and producer Tyler Perry has an estimated net worth of roughly $1 billion, according to Google. In the context of college basketball, North Texas’ Tylor Perry has achieved high levels of success, too. He joined the Mean Green after leading Coffeyville Community College to the 2021 NJCAA national championship, while earning second-team All-America honors.
Not only does Pittsburgh’s Nike Sibande share the name of one of the biggest brands in the sports world — if not one of the biggest brands in the world, period — but his first and last names rhyme, to boot.
Some premier professional athletes have gone by “Zeke,” such as two-time NBA champion Isiah Thomas and Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott, and the name of South Dakota State’s Zeke Mayo is short and sweet.
Kimo Ferrari (Brown) was unable to play during his freshman season as the Ivy League canceled its basketball seasons, but we’ll see just how fast Ferrari, a 6-foot guard, is this winter.
After becoming just the second No. 15 seed to advance to the Sweet 16 (while also boasting the country’s leading scorer, Max Abmas), Oral Roberts has national name recognition in ways its men’s basketball program never has before. And with a name like Sir Issac Herron, Oral Roberts’ freshman forward from Houston could build some name recognition of his own.
The All-division I player
Among the 350-plus division I men’s basketball programs, there’s Drake, which is a common-enough first name, and Butler, Davidson, Houston, Marshall and Washington — all of which are also last names you’ve likely heard.
So from time to time, you’ll see a player whose first or last name is also that of a DI school.
But having a player whose first and last names are DI schools, well, that’s obviously much more rare. Let us introduce you to Radford’s Xavier Lipscomb.
The ‘-a’ team
There’s something catchy about a name that ends in “-a.” So, Kezza Giffa (UTEP) and Wooga Poplar (Miami (FL)) both deserve a mention. Poplar’s legal first name is Nisine, but he goes by Wooga, which is pronounced “WUH-Guh).”