Players Find Success After San Jacinto College
The names Sam Cassell and Steve Francis are often synonymous with San Jacinto College men’s basketball. However, the extent of successful players reaches well beyond. The list of former San Jac players includes, but is certainly not limited to, Ollie Taylor, a first-team All-American in 1968 before transferring to University of Houston; Tom Henderson, a two-time All-American who was the leading scorer of the U.S. Olympic basketball squad that lost a controversial game to Russia in the 1972 Munich Games (he was also an All-American at the University of Hawai‘i); Ray Williams a first-team All-American that went on to play for the University of Minnesota (he was also #10 pick in 1977 NBA draft and played 10 years in the NBA); Ladell Eackles, a first-team All-American that was the 1986 national tournament most valuable player (he went on to play at the University of New Orleans); Boo Harvey, a first-team All-American that led San Jac to a national title; and Omar Sneed, an NJCAA player of the year and first-team All-American. Some other notable players include:
Steve Francis (1996-97)
Nicknamed Stevie Franchise,” Francis played five seasons in Houston during the early part of his career, and later again signed with the Houston Rockets as a free agent. He also spent time with the Orlando Magic, New York Knicks and Memphis Grizzlies during his 10+ years in the NBA. As a member of the San Jac men’s basketball team from 1996 to 1997, Francis helped SJC reach the national title game, averaging 12.5 and 7.5 rebounds per game. He guided a talented San Jac team to 36 straight wins before a loss in the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) national tournament. Francis went on to play for the University of Maryland.
Sam Cassell (1989-91)
Cassell enjoyed a fine career in the National Basketball Association, and most recently, in 2008, he added another NBA championship to his résumé in what would prove to be his final season as a NBA player. Cassell was with San Jac for two seasons (1990-1992) and averaged 23.4 points, 7.6 assists and 5.1 rebounds a contest during an All-American sophomore season. After playing the 1992-93 season with Florida State, Cassell was a first-round pick of the Houston Rockets in 1993, where he helped the team win back-to-back NBA world championships (1993-1994 and 1994-1995). In 17 seasons in the NBA, Cassell scored 15,635 points; grabbed 3,221 rebounds; and dished out 5,939 assists.
Walter Berry (1983-84)
Berry left his mark on the San Jac men’s basketball program when he guided San Jac to a 35-2 overall record and a national championship during the 1983-84 season. He was a first-team All-American during that championship season and was named the most valuable player at the NJCAA national tournament. That season he set a school record for blocked shots in a game with 13 against Western Texas, and is second on the all-time scoring list behind Ollie Taylor. Berry went on to play for St. John’s University where he was the college player of the year, earning the John Wooden Award. He was a first round draft pick of the Portland Trailblazers.
Ollie Mack (1975-77)
Mack led San Jacinto College to the national tournament in 1976 and 1977, where it advanced to the quarterfinals and finished as the national runner up, respectively. He was a two-time NJCAA all-tournament team honoree, and was the 1976 NJCAA national tournament most valuable player (scored a combined 110 points in the tournament that year). Mack was a first-team All-American in 1977 before playing for East Carolina University. He played professionally for the Dallas Mavericks, Chicago Bulls, and Los Angeles Lakers.