Belmont’s all-decade men’s and women’s basketball teams
The Bruins saw some amazing things in the 2010s. Both the women’s and men’s basketball teams separated themselves from the rest of the midmajors and stood out as superior programs who received national recognition. NCAA Tournament appearance, NCAA Tournament wins and Associated Press Top 25 Rankings.
The thing that carried those teams to so much success was the amazing players that stepped on the court at the Curb Event Center.
As we reflect on the end of the decade, Steven Boero and Ian Kayanja look at the top players and pick their all-decade teams for both the men’s and women’s teams. This was not an easy decision, as both teams had some legendary players.
Here are their picks for Belmont’s all-decade teams.
Women’s basketball team:
Sally McCabe: McCabe was one of the best players to come through the women’s basketball program and has made an everlasting impression on the teams she’s played with. Belmont recruited her as a superstar at Mt. Juliet High School. She was one of the best high school players in the state. Standing at 6 feet 3 inches, McCabe was the foundation of the Bruins’ three straight NCAA Tournament appearances. Her grit, height and scoring ability in the paint made her one of the most dangerous players in the OVC. Though Belmont has had success since she graduated, they haven’t been able to fill her spot at center. Her final season with the Bruins, she averaged 14.6 points per game, 7.6 rebounds per game and an incredible three blocks per game. She scored a double-double in three games of 2018 OVC Tournament. She was a presence that the Bruins could not lose and someone that then first year head coach Bart Brooks relied on heavily to play and, at times, fight through injuries. McCabe was named All-OVC First Team three straight seasons and Defensive Player of the Year her sophomore and junior years. – Steven.
Sally McCabe against SIUE.
Darby Maggard: Maggard is, hands down, the best Belmont athlete of the decade. She has broken more records in her four years at Belmont than most fans knew existed. But you can check them out here to help you understand how special she was. Head coach Bart Brooks has called her a once in a lifetime type of player to coach and it’s hard to not agree. She appeared in the NCAA Tournament each of her four years and was named OVC Player of the Year and OVC Female Athlete of the Year in 2019. Maggard was a player that could hit a three at any time, any place and against any team. She was winning awards the second she walked through the doors of the Curb Event Center as she won OVC Freshman of the Year and was named All-OVC First Team each of her four years at Belmont. Her junior year, she hit a game-tying 3-pointer in the OVC Tournament Final against UT Martin forcing the game to overtime and eventually a third straight tournament win. This was one of the biggest shots of the decade and arguably the most clutch shot in Belmont women’s basketball history. She was truly a profound player and Belmont will probably never have a player like her again, or at least for a really, really long time. No other Belmont basketball player should ever wear No. 33 again. – Steven.
Darby Maggard against UT Martin in the 2019 OVC Tournament Final.
Ellie Harmeyer: If we are talking about the best Belmont basketball players of this passing decade, Ellie Harmeyer has to be on the list. Harmeyer was a member of the Bruins teams that won 4 straight OVC championships and took 4 straight trips to the NCAA tournament. Her best season was the 2018-2019 run; she averaged 16.9 points per game on 48.5 percent field goal shooting. She was also one of the best rebounders at her forward position, snagging 9.1 rebounds a game. Her presence all over the floor aided a Bruins team that lost only seven games. This season she has produced more of the same on the floor. Averaging 16.8 points per game and 10.1 rebounds, her first season averaging a double-double. Her time at Belmont has been characterized by consistent winning, and for any player that’s all you can ask for. – Ian
Ellie Harmeyer against Trevecca.
Jenny Roy: Every team has someone they call the “glue guy.” For Belmont, that person was Jenny Roy. She was the motor for the Belmont teams that won 4 straight OVC championships. She was a two time recipient of All-OVC second team honors during her junior and senior seasons. Her senior year she averaged 7.7 points per game, 9.3 rebounds and 6 assists a contest. She was a threat to get a double-double nightly, and on some occasions a triple-double. Against Austin Peay, her senior year, she recorded the program’s third triple-double in the NCAA era with 10 points, 10 rebounds and a career high of 10 assists. It was during her senior season that Roy would also hold 2019 OVC Tournament MVP honors: an award that is given to the most outstanding player of the tournament. She could stuff the stat sheet nightly, doing all she could to win, and her championship rings are evidence of that. – Ian.
Jenny Roy against SIUE.
Kylee Smith: Anyone who is a Belmont Basketball fan knows about Kylee Smith. Originally a Vanderbilt transfer, she made a name for herself here at Belmont. Her redshirt sophomore season she averaged 13.8 points per game and 5.3 rebounds. A notable game came on Nov. 29, 2015, when she put up 24 points shooting 5-7 from behind the 3-point line against Troy, according to Belmont athletics. Her redshirt junior year, she was a recipient of OVC Scholar-Athlete of the Year Award — the first in Belmont women’s basketball history to win the award. That same year she led the Bruins in scoring with 15.9 points per game in 33 starts. Smith’s redshirt senior season was one for the books, chock-full of memorable performances. One that comes to mind is a 40 minute marathon she played against Wright State University, not leaving the floor once. In that game, she tallied 26 points, 8 rebounds and 3 assists. Against Vanderbilt, her old school, she hit a season best of 5 threes on her way to a 27 points, 9 rebounds and 5 assists that night. Her time at Belmont was defined by victory after victory, collecting three OVC championships as a player at Belmont. Her last game for Belmont was a 20-point effort against Duke in the NCAA tournament in 2018. They would go on to lose that game, but what stands out now is the amount of memories of hard fought wins and the dazzling scoring performances she put on. – Ian.
Kylee Smith 2017.
6th Man Maddie Wright: On this list because of her consistency and devotion to development, Maddie Wright is a Bruin all the way through. Each season, Wright brings stability to the locker room and consistency to the hardwood. Her yearly averages may not look all too impressive on paper, 8.2 points per game and 7.7 rebounds, but what separates her from the rest is her ability to do the little things it takes to win games. From screensetting to rim runs and hard box-outs, Wright does the things that don’t show up in the box score. It was her devotion to the dirty work over the last three years that helped her win three OVC championships. In her senior season she is now doing more of the same. Focused on making winning basketball plays and helping her teammates to be the best they can be. – Ian.
Maddie Wright against Tulsa.
Men’s basketball all-decade team:
Evan Bradds: Bradds is arguably the greatest basketball player to step foot on Belmont’s campus. His fundamentals and footwork were as good as anyone’s in the past decade. Bradds averaged 14.2 points as a starter his sophomore year and was named All-OVC Second Team. Bradds offered true leadership on the court that remains unmatched. His ability to own the court no matter what team they played. But from there he only got better. In his junior year, Bradds was named OVC Player of the Year after averaging 17.6 points per game and 9.2 rebounds per game. His senior year, he averaged 20 points per game and 8.4 rebounds per game along with another OVC Player of the Year award. Bradds showcased his work in the paint and outside the perimeter every possession. He was so efficient he led the nation in field goal percentage his sophomore and junior years. His junior year of shooting 71 percent from the field is ranked third in NCAA Division I all-time. – Steven.
Evan Bradds against JSU in the 2017 OVC Tournament.
Austin Luke: Luke may have been the biggest no-brainer for this list as the Bruins, and possibly even the OVC, have never seen such an efficient point guard. Luke could make impossible passes look easy, yet still surprise you when he threaded it across the court. He was known for his pass first mantra, but when the team needed it he could offer a scoring punch, at the lead guard spot, that was incredible to watch. Luke averaged 7.1 and 7.5 in his junior and senior years, respectively. Luke shot 42 percent from the field for his career and was the backbone of Belmont’s 2017-2018 year when they lost Bradds and had not yet seen the explosion of Windler as the go-to guy. Luke’s impact on the OVC is on the record books, as he led the OVC in assists, assists per game and assist percentage between 2015 and 2018. He is first all-time in assists made in the OVC, second in assist percentage and third in assists per game. Luke is ranked 25th in the NCAA history for career assist percentage. Luke was such a prolific leader of Rick Byrd’s offense. He knew how to anger Byrd while still finding a way to win. – Steven.
Austin Luke against Austin Peay in the 2018 OVC Tournament Semifianl.
JJ Mann: Mann is another no-brainer as he and Ian Clark were the superstars that led the Bruins from the Atlantic Sun Conference to the OVC. As a freshman in the A-Sun, he averaged 6 points per game and shot 40 percent from the field, earning a spot on the All-Freshman A-Sun team. It didn’t take long for him to become one of the top players in the OVC as he was named OVC Player of the Year in 2014, his senior year. Mann averaged 18.3 rebounds per game, shot 46 percent from the field and 39 percent from the arc. He was also a work horse that never seemed to slow down, as he played the most minutes and most games in the OVC during his player of the year season. Mann’s ability to move from the A-Sun to the OVC and continue his dominance is one of the best transitions fans probably have seen in Belmont’s history. – Steven.
JJ Mann against Arizona in the 2013 NCAA Tournament.
Dylan Windler: Dylan Windler is one of the few players that completely embodies what Belmont Basketball is all about. Windler was an under-recruited 6’6” swing man that developed into one of the best perimeter scorers Belmont basketball fans have ever seen. His first two years in Rick Bryd’s program saw him play in a total of 62 games, starting 31 of of them. In those first two seasons he averaged 6.8 points per game on 51 percent from the field, while grabbing 5.4 rebounds per game and 1 assist per game. His next two seasons at Belmont would see him develop into the player his known to be today. His junior season scoring output raised to 17.3 points per game on 55 percent field goal shooting. To go along with his scoring increase, his rebounds per game rose to 9.3, proving he was one of the best wing rebounders in the country. Windler’s final season at Belmont was one for the record books. It saw him join the 1k points club as he would finish his career with 1,687 points. He did this on nightly averages of 21.3 points per game and 10.8 rebounds. He also helped delivered the programs lone Division I NCAA tournament win against Temple. Windler’s four years at belmont, 2015-2019, can be characterized by his exciting play and memorable performances. His senior year at Belmont was a farewell tour for the ages that ended with him getting drafted 21st overall to the Cleveland Cavaliers. – Ian.
Dylan Windler against Maryland in the 2019 NCAA Tournament.
Ian Clark: To put it simply, Ian Clark was one of the most consistent scorers in program history. In his four years at Belmont he managed to average double digit scoring figures every season. However, his best year was his senior season, when Belmont made the jump from the A-Sun conference to the OVC in 2012-13. Clark was named OVC Co-Player of the Year in 2013 as well as Defensive Player of the Year. His scoring numbers were 18.2 points per game on 54 percent from the field, and 45 percent from three. Clark donned a 68 percent true shooting percentage- a stat that takes into account 2-point field goals, 3-point field goals and free throw percentage. This true shooting percentage was number one in the entire NCAA for the 2012-13 season. Clark’s impressive time at Belmont would lead to him being signed as an undrafted free agent to the Utah Jazz. After two seasons in the NBA, he would find himself on the Golden State Warriors where he would join a club of just him, the only Belmont Bruin with an NBA championship. – Ian.
Ian Clark against Murray State in the 2013 OVC Tournament Final.
6th Man Craig Bradshaw: A player who played alongside Bradds for three years and offered a fire and shooting expertise that the Bruins haven’t seen until maybe Adam Kunkel. Bradshaw brought national attention when he dropped 25 points on No. 2 seed University of Virginia in the 2015 NCAA Tournament. Bradshaw went 5-9 from behind the arc and rebounded nine, a performance that would definitely land you in the all-decade Bruins team. In his four years at Belmont, he never averaged less than 44 percent from the field and 37 percent from the 3-point line. His career numbers are nothing short of impressive as he averaged 13.1 points per game, shot 39 percent from the 3-point line and 48 percent from the field. Bradshaw was also named to All-OVC First Team twice, All-OVC Second Team once and OVC All-Tournament Team in 2015. – Steven.
Craig Bradshaw against UT Martin 2015.
Article written by Steven Boero and Ian Kayanja.