Queens native Ron Artest did not take his game far from home after graduating from high school as he attended St. John’s. In both of his two seasons with the Red Storm, Artest was able to lead them to the tournament.
Artest came off the bench during his freshman year, in which the Red Storm were eliminated in the first round by Detroit. Artest had a solid game scoring 10 points along with 4 rebounds and 2 steals.
Artest’s second time dancing was a much more productive one for him. The 1999 tournament saw Artest and the Red Storm advance all the way to the Elite 8.
Artest did his part contributing a little bit of everything in the tournament. This was especially true in a third round match up with Maryland in which Artest filled the stat book by scoring 8 points, grabbing 7 rebounds, taking 3 steals and blocked 6 shots. A young Artest stayed humble after his performance.
“We weren’t expecting to be up by 19 or 20, the only way we could do that was as a team. “I would like to give thanks to my teammates,” Artest said after the game.
Artest ultimately fell short of bringing a championship home to New York though as St. John’s lost a heart breaker 77-74 against Ohio State, with a bid for the Final 4 on the line.
Another New York native took a bit of a rockier path to the NCAA tournament. Lamar Odom had enrolled at UNLV in 1997, but an academic scandal ruled him ineligible. Odom transferred to Rhode Island.
In his lone season with the Rams, Odom punched his ticket to the big dance by leading Rhode Island to the Atlantic 10 Conference title. Odom’s NCAA tournament run was a short one though.
NC Charlotte eliminated the 12th seeded Rams in the first round. Odom had a stellar performance though, scoring 16 points along with 12 rebounds. Unfortunately Odom fouled out and the Rams were sent home early.
“I tried my best tonight, and I got into some foul trouble, so it took me out of my rhythm a little bit. I surely didn’t want to force anything. They did a great job on defense,” Odom said after his final NCAA game.