MACwood Squares is our summer reading series on the best athletes in Mid-American Conference sports history. This week features Ball State. Looking for your MAC school? Consult our schedule for other teams and please submit your nominees as well.
It's not that Ball State basketball has been terrible in the last 10 years, but they certainly haven't lived up to expectations. This is an indictment on the teams and coaches, but not necessarily the players. Since 2000, it's been NIT or nothin' for the Cardinals, but from 1981-2000 they had seven NCAA appearances. There's some pedigree there, and it's not too hard to find a memorable handful of players from the era.
Bonzi Wells (1994-98) — We'll start here, since he's the most well-known. At 2,485 points, Wells holds the all-time scoring record for not just Ball State but also the MAC. He's also fifth on the BSU all-time rebounds list, fifth in assists, and first in steals (as well as first in the MAC in this too). Wells has also made more free throws than anyone else in BSU history. He was an AP Third Team All-American his senior season, and naturally Bonzi was the highest-drafted player in school history, taken 11th overall by the Detroit Pistons in 1998. Thanks to the lockout, he never played for Detroit and was shipped to Portland for draft picks, where his exploits both on and off the field gained attention. Issues both legal and internal prompted him to be traded to Memphis, and so began the journeyman career: Sacramento, Houston, New Orleans. Then came stints in China and Puerto Rico, and he hasn't played pro ball in the last calendar year. Still, his No. 42 is retired in Worthen Arena.
Ray McCallum (1979-83) — He held the scoring record (2,109) before Wells broke it, but he still has the record for most career minutes (4,176), for what it's worth. It's worth 36.3 minutes a game, if you do the math. At the time he, too, was the MAC scoring king until Ron Harper passed him. He was taken in the 1983 NBA Draft by the Indiana Pacers but never made the team, and wound up coaching basketball. He was the last guy to take Ball State to the NCAAs, and can currently be seen coaching for the University of Detroit. His number 10 is the other retired number at Worthen.
Theron Smith (1999-2002) — Gotta include someone from that goofy 2003 squad. Smith only effectively played three years (his fourth year was cut short by an injury) but still ranks sixth all-time on the scoring list. In two seasons combined with Memphis and Charlotte he mustered only 2.8 points per game in 53 games and five starts.
Ed Butler (1961-64) — This predates their MAC years, but his 1,231 boards would be third all-time on the list. Extrapolate it out to a four-year career and he'd own the hypothetical conference record. Butler owns the Ball State record, however, by a lot. Randy Boarden (great rebounding name) has 1,000 career, and that's pretty much everyone over 900. Butler's game average was 17.3 and in a history in which nobody else had more than 23 rebounds in a single game, Butler did it nine times. He's 15th all-time in scoring but had the third-best single-game total in school history: 45.
Now please vote. Voting makes the world go 'round.
Who are your nominees for Ball State's MACwood Squares? Comment below, tweet us at @HustleBelt or submit a FanPost making your case. The final nine will be revealed Friday.