Elite Eight: #1 Kemba Walker vs. #3 Khalid El-Amin

Kemba Walker vs. Khalid El-Amin

#1 Kemba Walker – (2008-2011)
by Peter Bard

Rd 3, defeated #5 Hasheem Thabeet, 137-2

Rd 2, defeated #8 Kevin Ollie, 142-14

Rd 1, defeated #16 Johnnie Selvie, 197-8

Gear up, folks. It’s the remaining two National Championship PGs. I still think it should have been Kemba vs. Chris Smith, but the pudgy vote was out in force, and here we are.

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Khalid El-Amin was a lot of fun to watch, a round mound of clutch and chutzpah with a perpetual smile and a lot of confidence. He was a great second-fiddle to Rip Hamilton on the ’99 team that won UConn’s first title, and he was always the emotional leader.

But what was Kemba, if not everything about Khalid and then better? Kemba took a young team to the promised land, and was unquestionably the alpha-dog. He was the best perimeter defender, the best passer, and the best scorer on that team. For good measure, the 6’1″ point guard was even the second-best rebounder on the team.

Never in UConn history has a single player meant more to a team. Kemba was the best player on the team, a player everyone else (including Jim Calhoun) trusted implicitly, and he was the unquestioned leader. His late-game heroics will be part of UConn lore forever, and Husky Nation will be forever grateful.

And for fun, just watch this.

Career Points: 1783

Career Rebounds: 493

Career Assists: 460

Career Steals: 185

Career Blocks: 28

#3 Khalid El-Amin – (1997-2000)
by Meghan Bard

Rd 3, defeated #2 Chris Smith, 88-87

Rd 2, defeated #11 Taliek Brown, 173-52

Rd 1, defeated #13 Jim Abromaitis, 143-2

I’m not going to lie to you guys. This is a really tough sell. I love Khalid El-Amin. Who doesn’t? If this was a bracket for who you would most want to have partied with in college, Khalid wins this whole thing hands down. But in this bracket, against Kemba Walker? The Miracle Man and the hero of the most amazing post season run in college basketball history? I don’t know what to tell you.

Nobody jumps on a scorer’s table with as much flair as Khalid El-Amin. He did it at Pitt as an amateur and has taken his game pro. Those were great.

Khalid was maybe the most quotable. How many times have the words “We shocked the world!” been uttered? And Khalid was a winner. He won multiple state championships in high school, and a National Championship in college. El-Amin won plenty of individual accolades as well. He was First Team All-Big East his junior year, Second Team All-Big East s sophomore year and Third Team All-Big East his freshman year. El-Amin made amazing steals and acrobatic passes. He was an incredible amount of fun to watch, because you never quite know what he would do next. El-Amin always made the last few minutes of a game exciting.

He was also really good at causing a stir on campus. While some players like to keep a low profile, El-Amin was larger than life off the court, too. One night outside my dorm my freshman year, I saw a huge crowd of people standing around a car. When I got close enough to see what was going on, I found El-Amin in a Land Rover, with a pal filming him. I have no idea what the purpose of this was, but everyone just seemed to want to get near the guy who won a National Championship. It was quite the spectacle. And that’s El-Amin in a nutshell, he was a player you just loved to watch.

Career Points: 1650

Career Rebounds: 319

Career Assists: 479

Career Steals: 186

Career Blocks: 10

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