Black Greeks have dominated on the hardwood for decades (Photo Credit: Jeremy Sadoff/Charisma).
Last But Not Least: All-Time Iota Phi Theta Pro Basketball Team
Iota Phi Theta Fraternity, Inc. has the distinction of becoming the last predominantly African-American fraternity to join the Divine Nine (nine predominantly African-American fraternities and sororities).
The Iotas began on the campus of Morgan State University in Baltimore on Sept. 19, 1963.
The purpose of the fraternity is, “the development and perpetuation of scholarship, leadership, citizenship, fidelity and brotherhood among men.”
And Iota Phi Theta produced a couple of the best leaders in the history of basketball.
The fraternity produced one of the best little men in NBA history, and one of the best big men in the history of NCAA and NBA basketball.
Therefore, RegalMag.com would like to honor the best Iotas to ever play professional basketball in the last installment of its series on the best professional basketball players from predominantly African-American fraternities.
Small Forward: Chris Staples—Chris Staples never made the NBA. However, he made a name for himself as a professional basketball player and dunker for the Harlem Globetrotters. Staples even parlayed his dunking talents into a starring role in the movie, “Slamma Jamma.” Playing in the NBA was never a dream for Staples growing up. In high school he played basketball, baseball, football and participated in the high jump in track and field. He thought about playing overseas until he got an opportunity with the Globetrotters in 2012. One thing that he loved about playing for the Globetrotters was the fact that he played in over 60 countries during his career, something the NBA schedule would not have allowed.
Power Forward: Elvin Hayes—“Big E” became a legend long before he started playing for the San Diego/Houston Rockets, and long before he won a championship with the Washington Bullets. Along with point guard Don Chaney, Hayes became one of the first African-Americans to play basketball for the University of Houston. Playing for Hall of Fame coach Guy Lewis, Hayes and the Houston Cougars helped put modern college basketball on the map when they defeated Lew Alcindor and UCLA in the Astrodome for the “Game of the Century.” From 1968-1984, Hayes averaged 21 points per game and 12.5 rebounds per game in the NBA. With Wes Unseld, Tommy Henderson and Bob Dandridge, “Big E” helped deliver a championship to the nation’s capital in 1978. His high step from the Bullets’ bench as time ticked off the clock to give them the championship remains a timeless visual during the NBA Finals every season.
Center: Hamady N’Diaye—Hamady N’Diaye is a professional basketball player from Senegal. He played his college basketball for Rutgers University. Although he was drafted in the second round of the 2010 NBA Draft by the Minnesota Timberwolves, he spent the majority of his professional basketball career overseas. He has spent time with the Washington Wizards and the Sacramento Kings organizations. The center also spent time in the NBA G-League playing for the Dakota Wizards, Iowa Energy, Maine Red Claws, Delaware 87ers and numerous foreign teams. N’Diaye led the Chinese Basketball Association in blocked shots in 2013. And at Rutgers, he was the Big East Defensive Player of the Year in 2010.
Shooting Guard: Jermaine Taylor—It seems like many of the best basketball players from Iota Phi Theta Fraternity, Inc. end up playing for the Houston Rockets. While Jermaine Taylor does not have the status of Elvin Hayes and Calvin Murphy, making it to the highest level of basketball is quite an accomplishment. The Washington Wizards selected Taylor with the 32nd overall pick in the 2009 NBA draft before shipping him to Houston. In 2010, Taylor spent time with the NBA G League’s Rio Grande Vipers and the Rockets. He started his first NBA game with the Los Angeles Lakers on March 27, 2010, scoring 15 points.
Point Guard: Calvin Murphy—Youngsters in Houston know him for his outlandish suits and shoes. But do not get it twisted; “Murph” was a beast on the court for the San Diego/Houston Rockets. When basketball experts speak about the best little man to ever play the game, many often debate whether or not that title should go to Isiah Thomas or Allen Iverson. But Hall of Famer Calvin Murphy should have a spot in that conversation as well. The Niagara University product averaged 17.9 points per game and 4.4 assists per game during his pro career. The diminutive 5-foot-9 guard had a career free throw average of 89.2 percent and once hit 78 consecutive foul shots. Murphy also helped the Rockets reach their first NBA Finals in 1981, eventually losing to the champion, Boston Celtics. After his playing career, Murphy has enjoyed a “colorful” career as a television personality for the Rockets.
Dave Leitao—Although Dave Leitao has not yet coached in the NBA, he does have head coaching experience on the professional level. Leitao coached the Maine Red Claws of the NBA G League from 2011-2012. The Red Claws play their home games in Portland, Maine. His most extensive coaching comes at the college level, both as an assistant coach as well as a head coach. He is currently in his second tenure as the head coach at DePaul University of the Big East Conference. Leitao coached the DePaul Blue Demons from 2002-2005 before taking over the program in Chicago again in 2015. He served as head coach of University of Virginia from 2005-2009 and Northeastern University from 1994-1996. Leitao also served as an assistant basketball coach at Northeastern, Tulsa, Missouri and twice at Connecticut.