As the decade comes to a close, we at the W&M Sports Blog found ourselves reminiscing. After all, it was an important decade for William & Mary Men’s Basketball.
It produced the program’s all-time leading scorer, multiple professional prospects, and multiple runs at a CAA Championship trophy.
The decade saw all-time players come through Kaplan Arena — and we don’t say that lightly. If not for a couple bounces here and there, this program could have gone dancin’ in the NCAA Tournament. Perhaps a couple times.
And it wasn’t by chance that the Tribe found often itself in position to win. Throughout the decade, Head Coach Tony Shaver seemingly perfected the art of bringing scholar athletes to William & Mary’s basketball program.
As the coach for every year this decade except one (the current one), we tip our cap to the man that made this time period a memorable one for Green and Gold nation. Thank you, Coach Shaver!
So let’s get right to it: we present to you, the William & Mary Men’s Basketball All-Decade Team.
W&M All-Decade Team: 2010s
PG: David Cohn ’18
Unquestionably the #1 point guard of this decade, W&M’s former transfer from Colorado State is the pick. Throughout his time with the Tribe, the electric David Cohn absolutely lit up the score sheet. Playing alongside several W&M all-decade candidates, Cohn understood his role as a distributer — which he executed to perfection. He started 92 of 93 games during his W&M career, averaging 10 points per game while setting the W&M school record for career assists (490), single-season assists (207), and several other assist-related categories. It’s not an understatement to say that he is one of the greatest passers in W&M program history. We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention that his career free throw percentage is 2nd in W&M history and 4th in CAA history (84.7%); oh by the way, he also holds the W&M career record for assist-to-turnover ratio (2.66). Is there anything he couldn’t do? Answer: no. This was one of our easiest picks in creating this list, and for good reason.
SG: Marcus Thornton ’15
The GOAT. We present to you W&M’s greatest all time scorer, Marcus Thornton. One of my fondest memories of Marcus comes from his freshman year (which coincides with mine); it was 2011 when Marcus was but a wee freshman, as the Tribe hosted powerhouse, cross-state rival, the VCU Rams. VCU was still in the CAA at the time, and yes, Shaka Smart was still the man at the helm for the Rams. I can still remember the smattering of black and gold scattered throughout the upper echelons of Kaplan Arena opposite the student section. Despite the Green and Gold finding itself vastly outmatched in just about every category, the wide-eyed, bushy-tailed freshman in Marcus Thornton didn’t know any better. I remember it vividly: Marcus made a cut, flashed to the basket, and went up for the tough 2-point conversion in traffic. I quickly veered over to catch Shaka’s reaction — he had a look on his face that said, “Did a freshman really just do that to us?” Marcus, the true freshman, would go on to drop 28 points in that game — as the Tribe lost 87-78 and finish 4-20 on the season. But that game offered one glimpse into Marcus’ future greatness, a greatness that would ultimately culminate in an epic career run. He finished as W&M’s all-time leading scorer (2,178 points), school record holder in 3-pointers made (325), games played (127), and 3-pointers made per game (2.56), among several other categories. He won CAA Player of the Year honors his senior season to go along with AP All-American Honors and Lou Henson Mid-Major All-American Honors. The greatest shooting guard this program has ever seen (Dixon is a close second), Marcus cannot be denied this starting spot.
SG/PG: Daniel Dixon ’17
Think this is shaping up to be a guard-heavy lineup? You’re right — and that’s just how Tony Shaver liked it this decade. Pass, pop, shot, swish. That’s what we saw early and often from Dixon throughout his career in the ‘Burg, and especially from beyond the arc. And did it get any sweeter than his game-winning shot against Hofstra in the 2015 CAA Tournament? Answer: an emphatic NO. Just when we thought Dixon couldn’t get any better after playing alongside Marcus Thornton, he did just that when he was handed the full reins his senior year. One of the best all-around combo guards that the Tribe had this decade, Dixon vastly developed his all-around game year-over-year. So much so that even though he began his career as a deadly 3-point shooter (finishing his career ranked 3rd in W&M history in made 3-pointers with 241 and 7th in 3-point percentage at .390), he still finished his career ranked 14th in overall points (1355). His senior season, he became the fifth Tribe player to earn First Team All-CAA honors after averaging 22.9 points per game in CAA play, which was the highest average in program history. Yes, you read that correctly: higher than any single season average that Marcus Thornton had. We rest our case. And sorry not sorry, Hofstra. Daniel Dixon has your number.
F/G: Terry Tarpey ’16
How many players can say that they’re a two-time CAA Defensive Player of the Year? Well, Terry Tarpey can. If David Cohn filled up the stat sheets with assists, it was Terry Tarpey that filled it with everything else. Never the tallest player on the court, checking in at 6’5″, Tarpey’s heart showed up on the court each and every night he donned the Green and Gold. He finished his career as the first player in W&M program history with 100 career steals and 100 career blocked shots. As a guard/forward (not a center, mind you), Tarpey pulled down the most rebounds for a Tribe player since 1967, as he finished with 807 career boards. All-time, he ranks #3 in W&M history in career steals (171) and blocked shots (119), while ranking #5 in career rebounds. Again, he was never the biggest or tallest guy on the court, but he always left everything he had on the hardwood when the clock hit 0.0. The heart and soul of this program for the early part of the decade, the Tribe’s only two-time CAA Defensive Player of the Year earns a spot as a starter on this All-Decade team.
C/F: Nathan Knight ’20
As the only player on this list who has yet to graduate, and as the only one who is quite literally still writing the W&M record books as we speak, we can already tell you that Nathan Knight will go down as one of the best W&M players of this decade — in fact, he might just be the best. An athletic freak from the get-go, a young Nathan Knight was brought in as a raw talent from Syracuse, NY his freshman year. What he has molded into now is something that perhaps even Coach Shaver himself could not have predicted. Over his three years wearing the Green and Gold, Knight has finished on the All-CAA First Team (as a junior), All-CAA Second Team (as a sophomore), and on the CAA All-Rookie Team (as a freshman). He also finished on the CAA All-Defensive Team his sophomore and junior years, and is a two-time Lou Henson Mid-Major All-American. And he accumulated all of this before his senior season even began. In fact, both last year and this year he was named as one of five finalists for the for the 2019 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Center of the Year Award — yes, that’s a national award given to the best big-man in the entire nation. And yes, he’s been named to this watch list twice now. Last season, he averaged 21 points, 8.6 rebounds, and 2.3 blocked shots per game. This season, he’s averaging 20.4 points, 10.2 rebounds, and 1.5 blocks per game. As gaudy as his current double-double average is this early in the season, we’re expecting his numbers to pick up come CAA play in a few weeks. The undisputed #1 big man of his era, and perhaps the best big man in W&M program history, Nathan Knight has NBA scouts from across the country headed to Williamsburg this season.
Omar Prewitt ’17
Finishing his career as a top-5 scorer in W&M program history (1,813), Omar Prewitt earns the first spot on the bench on W&M’s All-Decade team. Ever the reliable offensive producer, Prewitt’s name is littered throughout W&M record books. In addition to finishing 5th in career scoring, he also finished 7th in field goals made and 3-pointers made, as well as 10th in free throws made, blocked shots, and in assists. And that’s just naming a few — we could go on for a while with this list. Aside from his offensive statistics, Omar also earned First Team All-CAA honors his junior year before earning Second Team All-CAA honors his senior season. And although we would have liked to see Omar have taken a step forward his senior year, his overall 4-year body of work more than justifies his spot on this list as one of the decade’s great players. In a game that we’ll remember forever, Prewitt dropped 33 points against Hofstra in the 2015 CAA Tournament Semifinal; the Tribe would go on to win by just one point in 2OT. His performance in that game helped earn the Tribe an appearance in the CAA Championship, and is one we’ll never forget.
Connor Burchfield ’18
Hands down the best pure three-point shooter that W&M has ever had. I know that those might be fighting words for Marcus Thornton and Daniel Dixon supporters, but the numbers don’t lie. At William & Mary, Burchfield established a new career Colonial Athletic Association record for 3-point percentage (50.7). When it was all said and done, his 179 career 3’s rank 8th in W&M history. And who could forget when Connor went up against some of the nation’s best overall 3-point shooters in the Great Clips Men’s 3-Point Competition in 2018 — and won. An incredible role player and an historic player for the Tribe this decade, we’ll take Connor Burchfield on the Tribe’s All-Decade team any day of the week.
Justin Pierce ’19
Gone too soon! Ah, what could have been had Pierce decided to stay for one more season in the ‘Burg, but we digress. Now at UNC Chapel Hill, Justin Pierce was a prolific scorer throughout his time at William & Mary. Averaging just over 14 points his sophomore and junior seasons, Pierce often led the Tribe in scoring over his last two years; he’d finish his W&M career as a two-time All-CAA Third Team selection in both the ’17 and ’18 seasons. All of this was evidently good enough for UNC Head Coach Roy Williams to take notice, as Pierce currently dons the Tarheel blue. But as an early graduate of W&M this past Spring, we can’t knock a fellow alum for chasing his dream. Overall, he’ll be remembered as one of W&M’s best F/G’s of the decade.
Tim Rusthoven ’14
BEASTHOVEN. Before there was Nathan Knight, there was Tim Rusthoven — or “Rusty” as we liked to call him. His long hair flowing in the wind like Thor flying with his hammer, Tim was a sight to behold on the court. His undying determination, mixed with grit and athletic skill endeared him to the Tribe faithful throughout his tenure in the ‘Burg during the early part of the decade. He’d finish his career with two All-CAA honors (2nd Team and 3rd Team), while also finishing as just one of six players in W&M program history with 1,200 career points and 600 career rebounds. He also ranks 2nd in field goal percentage (.566), 8th in blocked shots (86), 16th in rebounding (600), and 20th in scoring (1205). Say it with us one more time: BEASTHOVEN.
Brandon Britt ’14
Alongside Beasthoven those four years was point guard, Brandon Britt. A hard-nosed player who knew how to put his head down and get to the bucket (rare in those days for Tony’s sharp-shooting Tribe teams), Britt developed into a reliable scorer for the Tribe. He became only the 34th 1,000-point scorer in school history, finishing on the CAA Championship All-Tournament team his senior season. Overall, he finished his career ranked 17th in W&M history with 1,254 career points, 14th in 3-pointers made (128), and 17th in 3-point percentage (.345).
Quinn McDowell ’12
Lest we not forget one of best players from the start of the decade, the 6’6″ guard/forward out of Mason, Ohio: Quinn McDowell. Despite playing on mostly lackluster W&M teams, McDowell was a bright spot for a Tribe squad often looking for answers. A two-time All-CAA selection in both 2010 and 2011, McDowell found himself named captain both of those seasons. He finished his career as W&M’s career record holder in both games and minutes played; he also ranks 3rd in W&M history in 3-point field goal percentage (.402) and 4th in 3-pointers made (213). A prolific scorer, McDowell still ranks 6th all-time on W&M’s career scoring list with 1621 (too bad it couldn’t have been 1693).
Julian Boatner ’14 (Player Page)
Jack Whitman (Transferred) (Player Page)
Sean Sheldon ’16 (Player Page)
Matt Milon (Transferred) (Player Page)
Kyle Gaillard ’14 (Player Page)
Greg Malinowski (Transferred) (Player Page)