Columnists, Sports

Coast to Coast: 2 of the greatest scorers you’ve never heard of

Campbell University’s men’s basketball team playing on the court. Campbell’s Chris Clemons is one of ten players in all of college basketball to score 3,000 points. / WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

When was the last time you watched the Campbell University men’s basketball team play in the Atlantic Sun? Where even is Campbell? South Carolina? Georgia?

Or how about the last time your finger was on the pulse of the South Dakota State University Jackrabbits? Have you ever thought, “Hey, I’m going to watch some Summit League basketball tonight!”?

Well, Campbell is in Buies Creek, North Carolina, and I’ve watched the same number of Campbell basketball games as the number of times I have summited Mount Everest. Or any mountain, for that matter.

But that doesn’t mean these two small schools on opposite sides of the country don’t have two of the most prolific scorers the NCAA has ever seen.

Forever and always Pete Maravich will hold the NCAA record with an astounding 3,667 points. In his four years at LSU, Pistol Pete averaged 44 points per game at a time when there was no three point line. There is no safer record in all of sports.

But this season Campbell’s Chris Clemons and South Dakota State’s Mike Daum achieved something only 10 players in history have accomplished — they scored 3,000 points over the course of a college career.

Just a week apart, the 5’9” point guard from Raleigh, North Carolina, and the 6’9” giant from Kimball, Nebraska, became the third and fourth players, respectively, to net 3,000 points in the 21st century.

On Feb. 16, Clemons scored 28 points in a loss to Presbyterian College to get over the hump. A week later, Daum scored 25 in a win over rival University of South Dakota to get it done.

Throughout these two players’ careers, however different their playing styles might be, each has delivered some incredible performances. Obviously to score 3,000 points, you have to put up some big numbers.

Clemons’ career-high season was his sophomore year when he scored 51 points, shooting 18 of 32 from the floor and 8 of 14 from three.

Campbell needed every basket to beat UNC Asheville in the Big South conference tournament in 2017. That year Clemons would nearly lead Campbell to an improbable berth into the NCAA Tournament, but the Fighting Camels fell just short in the final game against Winthrop.

But clearly 51 points is no outlier, even if it is the only time Clemons has surpassed the big five-o. He has scored over 35 points 13 other times in his college career and has scored in single digits just one time, as a freshman in his 15th career game.

In the hills of South Dakota, Mike Daum put up the same career high of 51 points in a win over Purdue University Fort Wayne just weeks before Clemons. The Dauminator shot 14-29 from the field, 7-18 from three and 16-17 from the free throw line in his only game, surpassing 50 points, as well.

Looking even closer, Daum also has 13 other games where he scored 35 points or more, just like Clemons. I guess great scorers think and act alike.

However, unlike Campbell and Clemons, Daum has led South Dakota State to the NCAA Tournament in each of his first three seasons. The Jackrabbits have won the Summit League Tournament ever since Daum made a very large footprint on campus.

In 2016, South Dakota State lost a close 79-74 game to the University of Maryland in the first round. Daum scored just 16 points off the bench as a freshman for the Rabbits in that game, in which future NBA player Jake Layman scored 27 for the Terps to escape the upset.

In 2017, SDSU got their doors blown off by Gonzaga University, who would go on to lose in the NCAA Tournament championship game. Daum scored 17 points, but South Dakota State scored just 46 in a 20-point blowout.

And finally last season Daum had his best showing yet in a close first round loss to Ohio State University. He scored 27 points and the Jackrabbits had the score tied at 70 with just a few minutes left. Yet the Buckeyes broke free at the end to win 81-73.

This year, sitting in first place in the Summit League once again, South Dakota State looks primed to make one final tournament run with Daum on the roster. If they can win the Summit for the fourth straight year, then Daum will have a chance to achieve one thing he hasn’t accomplished: win an NCAA tournament game.

Clemons also has a chance to make some more history. He has never experienced the feeling of March Madness, and Campbell hasn’t made the Big Dance since before he was born. Sitting in second place in the Big South conference, Clemons has his best chance yet for some postseason play.

Still, no matter what happens in the next few weeks, these two fantastic players will always have the best story to tell at a dinner party.

“Oh, you backpacked across Europe? I heard it’s beautiful over there. When I was in college I scored over 3,000 points.” Or, “Congrats on the promotion at Marshalls. I’m sure you worked really hard for it. This one time I scored 3,000 points in college. It was awesome.”

Daum or Clemons might only have a few games remaining in their great college careers. They might not be seen by millions like Zion Williamson. They might not captivate the attention of the college basketball world this March. But one thing is for sure: they know how to get buckets. And a lot of them.

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