Last week, we took a look back at Wizards in conference tournaments. For many of the guys, the conference tournaments were just the beginning. With the NCAA Tournament underway, we're kicking off a look back at some of the Wizards' finest moments in March. Enjoy!
Bradley Beal - Florida, 2012
Beal and the Gators went into the 2012 NCAA tournament as No. 7 seed, but Billy Donovan's squad ended up making plenty of noise. Florida started off with a bang in the first round against now-Atlanta Hawk Mike Scott and No. 10 seed Virginia. Behind a double-double from Beal (14 points, 11 rebounds), the Gators rolled to an eight-point halftime lead that only got bigger as they prevailed, 71-45. That win set up a matchup with 15th-seeded Norfolk State, which had upset Missouri in the first round. The Spartans' bid at a Cinderella run proved to be short-lived, as Florida led by nearly 30 at the half thanks to a massive 25-0 run. Beal scored 14 points (nine rebounds) and Kenny Boynton's 20-point outing led the Gators to an 84-50 victory and a Sweet 16 berth.
As the stakes got higher, Beal's game got better. In a Sweet 16 matchup with No. 3 seeded Marquette, the freshman took center stage. He scored a game-high 21 points to lead his Gators to a 68-58 victory over Jae Crowder's Golden Eagles. Beal truly did it all, grabbing six rebounds to go with four assists and a pair of blocks. His collected demeanor was evident in his perfomance, and his head coach had nothing but praise for the young star following the win to clinch an Elite 8 bid.
"He doesn't want to step on toes; he's very aware of his place on the team,"
. "You can't do anything but love him because of the way he handles himself."
Florida went on to lose to No. 4 seed Louisville, who had upset top-seeded Michigan State, in the Elite 8. It wasn't for lack of effort on Beal's part. He and Erik Murphy paced the Gators with 14 points apiece, but the Gators couldn't hang on to an eight point lead they took into the half. Still, with a similar humility to what Wizards fans have grown to know, Beal was measured and grateful in defeat as he looked back at what Florida had accomplished as a No. 7 seed.
"It was a tough journey for us. I think we stuck with it and we played together as a team," Beal said. "We got this far. I'm real proud of our guys. It's just unfortunate we ended up losing today."
John Wall - Kentucky, 2010
John Wall only played at Kentucky for one season, but it was a memorable one. The team went 35-3 (14-2 in SEC) and won the SEC Tournament with a dramatic overtime win over Mississippi St. in the Championship Game. Wall, along with fellow freshmen DeMarcus Cousins and Eric Bledsoe, and Junior Patrick Patterson, had the Wildcats positioned as a one seed in the East Region and picked as a favorite to win the NCAA Tournament.
The team rolled through the first weekend with ease, beating East Tennessee St. and Wake Forest by 30 points apiece. Wall had 17p-11a in the opening game and then 14p-7a in the second round matchup with the Demon Deacons. Neither game was close as Kentucky dominated from beginning to end, sending a message to the rest of the country.
However, they then had to travel to Syracuse for the second weekend of the tournament, where they would meet Cinderella Cornell in the Sweet Sixteen. They jumped on Kentucky early, but the Wildcats were too tough defensively and eventually pulled away to a 62-45 win to advance to the Elite Eight. Wall finished the game with 8p-8a-7r.
Kentucky would then take on the West Virginia Mountaineers with a trip to Indianapolis and the Final Four on the line. Kentucky jumped out to an early lead, but West Virginia stormed back to take a two-point lead at the half. They then built up a double-digit lead in the second half and although Kentucky got as close as four late in the game, West Virginia held on for a 73-66 win, ending the Wildcats season. Kentucky missed their first 20 3-pointers and went just 4/32 in the game. Wall finished the game with 19p-9r-5a, his final NCAA game before turning pro. He finished the tournament averaging 14.5 points and 7.8 assists per game.
Wall says he will never get over that loss and it will stick with him forever. That's the nature of the NCAA Tournament; one loss and the season ends. Many times in heartbreak, like it did for Wall in 2010.
Markieff Morris - Kansas, 2011
Morris helped his Jayhawks to the NCAA Tournament in all three of his seasons in Lawrence, but their deepest run during his tenure came in his junior season in 2011. The Big 12 champions came into the tournament as a No. 1 seed and would go on to face a slew of Cinderella candidates. Kansas started its run by dispatching No. 16 seed Boston, 72-53, behind a combined 31 points by the Morris twins (Markieff scored 15 and grabbed eight rebounds). The twins dominated again in the second round against No. 9 Illinois, combining for 41 points and 24 rebounds to topple the Illini, 73-59, and reach the Sweet 16. Markieff led the game with 24 points on 10-of-13 shooting and 12 rebounds.
Kansas' first meeting with a Cinderella came against No. 12 seed Richmond, and the Jayhawks passed with flying colors in a convincing 77-57 victory. Markieff only scored five points and grabbed six rebounds as Marcus (13 points) and Brady Morningstar (18 points) paced Kansas to an Elite 8 berth. Morris went on to record a double-double (13 points, 12 rebounds) in an Elite 8 matchup with No. 11 seed VCU, but it wasn't enough as the Jayhawks fell to the Rams in San Antonio, 71-61.
Kelly Oubre - Kansas, 2015
In his only season at Kansas, Oubre helped lead the Jayhawks to a No. 2 seed in last year's NCAA Tournament. He scored eight points in a convincing tournament-opening win over New Mexico State, but the upset bug hit Kansas a little sooner than they'd hoped. An experienced Wichita State (a No. 7 seed) took down the Jayhawks in the second round last season, 78-65. Oubre scored nine points and grabbed five rebounds.
Daniel Ochefu - Villanova, 2016
Ochefu played in 141 games over his four-year career at Villanova with his best season coming in his senior year in 2016. He averaged 10 points, 7.5 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game in his final season as a Wildcat, and while 'Nova had limited Tournament success in his first three seasons in Philly, they saved their masterpiece for 2016. Ochefu scored 17 points in both a first-round win over UNC-Asheville and a Sweet 16 win over Sheldon McClellan and Miami. From there, he averaged just a hair under 10 points and seven rebounds in the No. 2-seeded Wildcats' final three games that ended in a dramatic win at the buzzer over North Carolina for the national title.
Trey Burke - Michigan, 2013
Michigan's leading man in his sophomore year, Burke raked in the national awards during the 2012-13 season as a consensus All-American, Wooden Award winner and Naismith Award winner. He averaged 18.6 points and 6.7 assists in his final season as a Wolverine and led Michigan to wins over Kansas, Florida and Syracuse in a run to the 2013 NCAA Tournament title game. Burke's best tournament game came in the championship game against Louisville when he tallied 24 points. Unfortunately for the Wolverines, Louisville prevailed, 82-76. Michigan's run to the title game that year was the school's first in 10 years.
Sheldon McClellan - Miami, 2016
After transferring to play for Jim Larranaga at Miami for his final two seasons in college, McClellan saved his best for last as a Hurricane. In his senior season at The U, McClellan led the team with 16.3 points per game during the regular season. As a No. 3 seed in the South region of the 2016 NCAA Tournament, McClellan led the Canes to a pair of victories over Buffalo and Wichita State, scoring 20 and 18 points, respectively. In the Miami's third Sweet 16 trip in school history, McClellan's 26 points weren't enough to topple now-teammate Daniel Ochefu and eventual national champion Villanova. The Hurricanes fell to the Wildcats, 92-69.