Lovable labels: Our 100 favorite college basketball names
Sometimes, when you’re a college basketball reporter, you sit on the couch watching meaningless games.
And sometimes you want to make better use of your time.
So I decided to peek at every single Division I basketball roster — there are 351 of them, folks — to find the best names in college basketball.
Wait, that’s actually a worse use of my time?
Whatever. I love cool names. I love foreign names that roll off the tongue. I love domestic names that show creativity and individuality. I grew up wishing my name were Dave or John, but I came to love having a different name, a name that differentiates me from others.
College basketball, an increasingly international sport whose participants are as diverse in their ethnic backgrounds as their economic backgrounds, is awash in these names.
Here are my top 100.
Thanks to KenPom.com for making my fool’s errand easy — or at least a little bit easier.
100. Koh Flippin, freshman, UC-Riverside. This name makes me wanna dance.
99. Mangok Mathiang, junior, Louisville. Pronounced like the fruit, mango.
98. Hunter Seacat, freshman, William & Mary. Bad guy from a sci-fi cartoon, maybe?
97. Gee McGhee, junior, Murray State. Love this.
96. Egidijus Mockevicius, senior, Evansville. One of the best mid-major players in the country. One of the best mid-major names, too.
95. Tookie Brown, freshman, Georgia Southern. Sounds like a fun dude.
94. DelFincko Bogan, freshman, Jacksonville State. The only DelFincko on Earth, I presume.
93. Manroop Clair, junior, Seattle. He’s Canadian.
92. Doudou Gueye, junior, South Carolina State. Enough with the bathroom humor, guys.
91. Dallas Ennema, junior, Albany. No, seriously, guys. Stop it.
90. Landry Shamet, freshman, Wichita State. Sounds like a pretty good attorney.
89. Grandy Glaze, senior, Grand Canyon. Also sounds like a pretty good attorney.
88. Drake Lamont, sophomore, Western Michigan. Probably the best attorney.
87. Kevin Booze, sophomore, Lamar. Probably an attorney I’d avoid.
86. Omar Prewitt, junior, William & Mary. Omar’s coming, yo.
85. Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk, sophomore, Kansas. Say that five times fast. Hell, say it once slowly.
84. Johnny Trueblood, freshman, Nebraska. You can’t mess up this last name. His parents clearly knew that and wanted to emphasize how cool “Trueblood” sounds next to a nice, normal first name.
83. Divine Myles, sophomore, Stetson. Lot of pressure on this kid to never get in trouble.
82. Jock Londale, sophomore, St. Mary’s. Sounds like the bully from an ’80s teen movie.
81. Jack Salt, freshman, Virginia. Simple. Strong. This dude doesn’t mess around.
80. Mindaugas Kacinas, senior, South Carolina. Hearing a fuming Frank Martin yell “Mindaugas” in practice is one of the most enjoyable moments I’ve had covering college hoops.
79. Dakota Slaughter, senior, UT-Rio Grande Valley. This guy sounds tough.
78. Nathan Taphorn, junior, Northwestern. Not to be confused with Jackie Treehorn.
77. Sean Obi, sophomore, Duke. “Star Wars” fans rejoice.
76. Simi Socks, freshman, Incarnate Word. You can’t mess up a last name like that. You can only improve it. And that’s exactly what Simi’s parents did when they chose his first name.
75. Vitto Brown, junior, Wisconsin. Sounds like a mobster. Instead, he sings the national anthem at the Final Four. A true Renaissance man.
74. Jacob Hazzard, senior, Arizona. Nicknamed The Duke?
73. Nazareth Mitrou-Long, senior, Iowa State. Same name as Jesus’ hometown? Good on ya, Naz.
72. Emmanuel Ezechinonso, senior, Tulsa. Something beautiful about this name.
71. Nathan Bain, freshman, Stephen F. Austin. Cannot say his name without thinking of one of two things: “The Dark Knight Rises” or Mitt Romney.
70. Ishmail Wainright, junior, Baylor. Call him Ish.
69. Prince Ali, freshman, UCLA. The favorite college basketball name of my 3-year-old son, a huge “Alladin” fan.
68. Daniel Amigo, sophomore, Denver. Friendliest guy in college hoops.
67. Tyler Smithpeters, junior, Southern Illinois. Three last names in one.
66. Elgin Cook, senior, Oregon. He’s the son of former NBA player Alvin Robertson. Can’t help but think of Basketball Hall of Famer Elgin Baylor, who was named for his father’s favorite watch.
65. Konstantinos Mitoglou, sophomore, Wake Forest. If this guy doesn’t become a government minister in his home country of Greece someday, it’ll be a shame.
64. Khy Kabellis, freshman, North Dakota State. Excellent alliteration and rhythm to this name.
63. Shayok Shayok, senior, UMKC. Cool cool.
62. Ryan Arcidiacono, senior, Villanova. Arcidiacono was recruited to play for the Italian national team this summer after that country’s coaches saw his name and guessed he had Italian heritage. I am not joking.
61. Nakye Sanders, freshman, Duquesne. Anagram for the first name of the best rapper alive. (No, his name isn’t “DrickKen.” That’s the second-best rapper alive.)
60. Chance Comanche, freshman, Arizona. Strong first name/last name combo here.
59. Duda Sanadze, senior, San Diego. A pretty cool dude.
58. Emmanuel Omogbo, junior, Colorado State. OMG.
57. Franko House, junior, Ball State. Not Frank. Not Franco. He’s Franko.
56. Wally Ellenson, junior, Marquette. Bringing back the name Wally from the 1950s.
55. Reid Travis, sophomore, Stanford. Best first name in college basketball. (The parents of South Dakota State’s Reed Tellinghuisen flat-out can’t spell.)
54. Torloft Thomas, junior, Alabama State. The most unique first name in college basketball.
53. Aldonis Foote, junior, Middle Tennessee. Al-most a Greek god.
52. Skal Labissiere, freshman, Kentucky. A Haitian name that rolls off the tongue.
51. Chinanu Onuaku, sophomore, Louisville. Just down the road from Labissiere, another name that flows freely.
50. Cheddi Mosely, sophomore, Boston. In “researching” this “story,” I learned two interesting things about Cheddi: 1. He has a brother named Jagan; 2. The national airport of the South American country of Guyana is named Cheddi Jagan International Airport.
49. Octavius Ellis, senior, Cincinnati. A name straight out of the Roman Empire.
48. Tanner Plomb, senior, Army. I hope his teammates refer to his 3-pointers as “Plomb Bombs.”
47. Bonzie Colson, sophomore, Notre Dame. Just sounds like a fun dude.
46. Dusty Baker, sophomore, Weber State. Who knew the 66-year-old Washington Nationals manager had college hoops eligibility remaining?
45. Silas Melson, sophomore, Gonzaga. Maybe just me, but every time I hear the name Silas, I think of the albino from “The Da Vinci Code” who flogs himself with a metal cloth. Anyone else?
44. Armani Moore, senior, Tennessee. Best-dressed man in college hoops.
43. Sir Washington, sophomore, Eastern Washington. Only player in college hoops who is already knighted, now that Sir’Dominic Pointer has moved on to the NBA.
42. Mo-Alie Cox, junior, VCU. Just a fun, fun name.
41. Roger Moute a Bidias, junior, Cal. That’s a mouthful.
40. Schuyler Rimmer, junior, Florida. Born to be a basketball player.
39. Maverick Rowan, freshman, North Carolina State. I commend anyone named after a “Top Gun” character.
38. Kevin “Yogi” Ferrell, senior, Indiana. Told me his nickname came from his being a fat baby/toddler, complete with rolls on the arms.
37. Bear Henderson, freshman, Eastern Washington. Don’t mess with this dude.
36. JT Yoho, senior, Wright State. As close to YOLO as you can get.
35. Casey Jones, senior, Chattanooga. Big fan of the Grateful Dead.
34. Zena Edosomwan, junior, Harvard. A warrior.
33. Ugur Hortum, junior, Grambling State. Not an ogre. An Ugur.
32. Cinmeon Bowers, senior, Auburn. The least I can give a guy who has spent a lifetime answering to “Cinnamon” is inclusion on this list.
31. Rand Rowland, junior, Georgia Tech. Excellent use of alliteration here.
30. Obediah Church, freshman, Missouri State. This is a Biblical name that means “servant of God.” Also the first name of a character in a 1987 episode of “MacGyver.”
29. Grayson Allen, sophomore, Duke. The ultimate Duke-white-guy-you-love-to-hate name.
28. Carrington Love, senior, Green Bay. Excellent rhythm of flowing first name + cool, succinct last name.
27. Buddy Hield, senior, Oklahoma. I choose this more for his nickname, “Buddy Love.” (Called that by his teammates because he smiles so much.)
26. Okey Ukah, senior, Iowa. Almost rhymes.
25. Federico Mussini, freshman, St. John’s. The Italian guard is the Casanova of college hoops.
24. Admiral Schofield, freshman, Tennessee. My grandmother’s maiden name is Schofield. It feels cool to be maybe related to an Admiral.
23. Dupree McBrayer, freshman, Minnesota. I love everything about this name.
22. Goodluck Okonoboh, sophomore, UNLV. Evil twin named “Badluck”?
21. Denzel Valentine, senior, Michigan State. If one more headline writer uses “Valentine’s Day” after he has a great game, I’m going to scream.
20. Terrence Phillips, freshman, Missouri. No one was more angry when South Park debuted the “Terrance and Phillip” cartoon-within-a-cartoon than the mother of Terrence Phillips.
19. Josh McSwiggan, freshman, UTEP. Sounds like a name on a really bad fake ID.
18. Jett Jobe, freshman, Mississippi State. Badass.
17. Pierfrancesco Oliva, freshman, St. Joseph’s. If basketball doesn’t work out, I feel like he can have a career at the Vatican.
16. Colton Ray-St Cyr, junior, Coastal Carolina. I don’t get it either, guys.
15. Carter Cagle, sophomore, Georgia State. Deserves an “Esquire” after his name.
14. Diamond Stone, freshman, Maryland. Manly yet beautiful.
13. Hooper Vint, senior, UTEP. UTEP may have the best name roster in college hoops. Others who didn’t make the list include Omega Harris and Trey Touchet.
12. Myles Davis, junior, Xavier. So smooth.
11. Jazz Johnson, freshman, Portland. Also smooth.
10. Giddy Potts, sophomore, Middle Tennessee. Happiest player in college hoops.
9. Andrew Andrews, senior, Washington. Reminds me of a well-known realtor in my college town named John John.
8. Beau Beech, senior, North Florida. One or the other: The name of a fraternity president or the name of a porn star.
7. Tacko Fall, freshman, UCF. Cool that he’s 7-feet-6. Cooler that he shares a name with perhaps the best of all foods.
6. YaYa Anderson, senior, Radford. Heard he has some divine secrets.
5. Lourawls “Tum Tum” Nairn Jr., sophomore, Michigan State. So many great things going on here for the Bahamian point guard. His first name is an homage to Lou Rawls, the gospel/soul singer. His nickname is “Tum Tum” after a character in the movie “3 Ninjas.” (No joke.) And his mother’s name is Monalisa.
4. Four McGlynn, senior, Rhode Island. I am intrigued by the possibility of what would happen if he married James Fives, a freshman for Loyola Maryland.
3. Sheriff Drammeh, freshman, Hawaii. I love that he’s a freshman, so we can accurately say there’s a new Sheriff in town.
2. Lionheart Leslie, junior, Cal State Fullerton. The most aspirational of all names.
1. Scoochie Smith, junior, Dayton. For the third year in a row, Scoochie wins the top prize. The interplay of weird first name and normal last name is key here. Creativity and simplicity.
- Alabama State Hornets
- Arizona Wildcats
- Auburn Tigers
- Ball State Cardinals
- Bear Henderson
- Cal State Fullerton Titans
- Chattanooga Mocs
- Cincinnati Bearcats
- Coastal Carolina Chanticleers
- Colorado State Rams
- Dallas Ennema
- Dayton Flyers
- Denver Pioneers
- Duquesne Dukes
- Eastern Washington Eagles
- Evansville Aces
- Georgia Southern Eagles
- Georgia State Panthers
- Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
- Giddy Potts
- Gonzaga Bulldogs
- Grambling State Tigers
- Grand Canyon Antelopes
- Green Bay Phoenix
- Harvard Crimson
- Hawaii Rainbow Warriors
- Indiana Hoosiers
- Iowa State Cyclones
- Jacksonville State Gamecocks
- Kansas Jayhawks
- Kentucky Wildcats
- Lamar Cardinals
- Louisville Cardinals
- Loyola Maryland Greyhounds
- Manroop Clair
- Marquette Golden Eagles
- Michigan State Spartans
- Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders
- Minnesota Golden Gophers
- Mississippi State Bulldogs
- Missouri State Bears
- Nebraska Cornhuskers
- North Carolina State Wolfpack
- North Dakota State Bison
- North Florida Ospreys
- Northwestern Wildcats
- Notre Dame Fighting Irish
- Obediah Church
- Oklahoma Sooners
- Oregon Ducks
- Portland Pilots
- Radford Highlanders
- Rhode Island Rams
- San Diego Toreros
- Seattle Redhawks
- South Carolina Gamecocks
- South Carolina State Bulldogs
- South Dakota State Jackrabbits
- Southern Illinois Salukis
- Stanford Cardinal
- Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks
- Stetson Hatters
- Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk
- Tulsa Golden Hurricane
- UC Riverside Highlanders
- UCF Knights
- UCLA Bruins
- UMKC Kangaroos
- UNLV Runnin' Rebels
- UTEP Miners
- VCU Rams
- Villanova Wildcats
- Virginia Cavaliers
- Wake Forest Demon Deacons
- Weber State Wildcats
- Western Michigan Broncos
- Wichita State Shockers
- Wisconsin Badgers
- Wright State Raiders
- Xavier Musketeers