Ah, the late eighties.
Unfortunately, as a 1992 baby, my only exposure to the 80s comes from VH1's "I Love the 80s". So as to not waste any time, you can watch 1987's edition HERE, and 1988's HERE. I highly recommend both of them.
Today's Big East Lottery Look Back is a special two-for-one, as we're going to look at 1987 and 1988. Each year had one Big East player taken in the lottery, with 1987's being Georgetown legend Reggie Williams, and 1988's being Pittsburgh great Charles Smith.
Let's start with Williams.
While Patrick Ewing gets most of the buzz from the Georgetown teams of the mid-80s, the Hoyas wouldn't have been in their national powerhouse position without the addition of Reggie Williams, as well.
Williams, who was born and raised in Baltimore and played high school basketball with future NBA players Muggsy Bogues, Reggie Lewis, and David Wingate, stayed local in committing to the Hoyas. Williams made an immediate impact in his first season at Georgetown, averaging 9.1 points and 3.5 rebounds per game. He also picked a great time to have his best game of the season, leading Georgetown with 19 points on 9-18 shooting in their 1984 National Championship victory over Houston.
As Georgetown headed through the 1984-85 season looking for a repeat, Williams improved his numbers from his freshman campaign, scoring 11.9 points and grabbing 5.7 rebounds per game. The Hoyas fell to Villanova in the 1985 National Championship, however.
The departure of Ewing following the '84-'85 season meant that Williams had a newfound leadership role as a veteran for the Hoyas. He led by example on the court, raising his numbers once again, scoring 17.6 points and grabbing 8.2 rebounds per game. While Georgetown didn't make appear in a third straight Final Four, it was clear the they Hoyas were now Williams' team, and he was firmly on the national radar.
As Williams entered his senior campaign, Georgetown was set to be back as a powerhouse. Williams won Big East Player of the Year as he led the conference in scoring with 23.6 points per game, and led Georgetown in rebounds, steals, and blocks. Coach John Thomspon referred to his team as "Reggie and the Miracles". The Hoyas made a run to the Elite Eight, but lost to Big East foe Providence. Williams was named a First Team All-American as he prepared for the NBA Draft.
By the time the 1987 NBA Draft rolled around, the only sure thing was that Navy's David Robinson would be the top pick. Everything after that was unclear. After the Phoenix Suns and New Jersey Nets passed on Williams, the Los Angeles Clippers made him the fourth overall pick. Williams, who had spent his entire life on the east coast, was now set to head across the country.
Following two and a half seasons in Los Angeles, Williams was traded to Cleveland. Shortly later that year, he was dealt to San Antonio. After a season in San Antonio, Williams was dealt to Denver. As he eased into Denver, Williams finally found some stability. As a result, his play on the court improved. In his six seasons with the Nuggets, Williams averaged 14.2 points and 4.6 rebounds per game. He was traded again, in 1996, to the Indiana Pacers, who dealt him to the Nets after just two games. Following the 1996-97 season, Reggie Williams closed the book on a ten year career.
While Williams never found the glory of an MVP or NBA title, he played for ten seasons and averaged 12.5 points and 4.0 rebounds per game, made good money, and stayed healthy for most of the time.
The Williams family tree continues at Georgetown to this day, as Reggie's son Riyan walked on to the team for the 2013-14 season and is entering his senior season.
Let's get this out of the way: Throughout the history of college athletics, the Pittsburgh Panthers have been pretty bland. The school has made exactly one Final Four, and it was in 1941.
While Pitt didn't make a Final Four with Charles Smith, at the very least, they were exciting.
Smith made an instant impact at Pitt, averaging 15.0 points per game, which remains a Pitt freshman record and 8.0 rebounds per game. However, Smith, Lane, and the rest of the Panthers had no answer for Louisiana Tech's Karl Malone, as the Bulldogs defeated the Pitt in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
The following season, Smith's numbers improved to 15.9 points and 8.1 rebounds per game, but the Panthers failed to make the NCAA Tournament. 1986 was the only time in Smith's four seasons that Pitt didn't go to the tourney.
Smith's junior season saw his numbers rise yet again, as he averaged 17.0 points and 8.5 rebounds per game. Pitt also made the NCAA Tournament again, winning their first round game against Marist before falling to Oklahoma in the second round. While frustration had seemed to set in, Smith and his teammates used it as motivation.
As a result, Pitt opened the 1987-'88 season, Smith's senior year, ranked #4 in the country. They climbed as high as #2 en route to a 24-7 season. Smith led the charge with a career-high 18.9 points per game to go along with 7.7 rebounds per game. This effort led to Smith winning the 1988 Big East Player of the Year.
As the NCAA Tournament opened, Pittsburgh disposed of Eastern Michigan. They then lost in the second round in overtime to Vanderbilt, and Charles Smith's career was over. He left Pittsburgh as their all-time leading scorer, which he remains to this day, with 2,045 points.
In the 1988 NBA Draft, Smith was selected third overall by the Philadelphia 76ers. The 76ers then traded him to the Clippers, where he would, coincidentally, become teammates with Reggie Williams.
Smith had a tremendous amount of success in his first season in Los Angeles, leading to him being named to the 1989 All-Rookie First Team.
Smith played four seasons with the Clippers, averaging 18.4 points and 7.0 rebounds per game.
In 1992, he was traded to the New York Knicks.
Smith averaged 11.3 points and 4.5 rebounds per game in four seasons with the Knicks, but he's most remembered for this sequence in the 1993 postseason in which he could have given the Knicks the go-ahead bucket and the series lead, but instead got blocked by several Bulls.
Following his time with the Knicks, Smith played with the San Antonio Spurs for 51 games before injuries forced him to retire. Since retiring, Smith has been a basketball ambassador in the northeast. He has done digital media work, got his Masters from Seton Hall, and done work with the NBA Retired Players Association.