Stoudamire deserves to have jersey retired

Now that Miles Simon had his jersey retired, Damon Stoudamire should be next.

When reciting the genesis of “Point Guard U” most UA hoops historians point back to the five year (1983-88) career of Steve Kerr.

And on the surface that certainly appears fair. Kerr was, after all, the first All American lead guard of the Olson era.

Factor in his assortment of post-Arizona accomplishments and honors and it’s easy to agree with that sentiment.

Kerr, along with Sean Elliott, Damon Stoudamire, Miles Simon, Mike Bibby and Jason Terry constitute the clear first tier of Olson to Miller era players.

Yet, despite all of his accomplishments, few would describe Kerr’s play as dominating or flashy, or the kind of style that youth on the playground would train feverishly to emulate.

It wouldn’t be until a diminutive prospect from Portland named Damon Stoudamire came along that a point guard dominated in such a manner that appealed to kids of a broader spectrum.  

And nothing symbolized his style of play better than the eventual “Mighty Mouse” tattoo that would adorn his right bicep.

Stoudamire was routinely the smallest player on the court, yet also possessed the baddest game.

The 1993-94 and 94-95 seasons witnessed a two year run of individual dominance that has not been matched.

Too quick and slick with the ball while equipped with consistent range from 30 feet and beyond, Stoudamire, along with then-senior Khalid Reeves, formed the best backcourt in the nation, a point brought up consistently by local and national media.

While the reserved Khalid Reeves was the best player on the 93-94 team, a squad that ultimately reached the second Final 4 in UA history, it was the domineering Stoudamire that received the most media focus.

Stoudamire’s 1994-95 senior season, despite ending in the first round of the NCAA tournament, was the second best statistical campaign of the past 30 years at UA.

Combine Stoudamire’s flair and skill and it equaled must see TV akin to a Pac-10 Allen Iverson.

Averages of 23 points a game and 7 assists while shooting nearly 48 percent from the field and 47 percent from three are point guard numbers that will never be duplicated here or in the conference.

He would also leave as the school’s second leading scorer, first in 3 pointers and fourth in assists.

Stoudamire’s impact was such that he enjoyed co-conference player of the year honors along with UCLA’s Ed O'Bannon, who would go onto win the Final 4 MOP and Wooden Award.

Many point to Stoudamire winning the 1996 NBA Rookie of the Year as his signature pro accomplishment.

However, becoming the highest paid player in NBA history 5-10 or under, with career contract earnings of more than 100 million dollars is perhaps more impressive.

Although current Pueblo High School Basketball Coach Kelvin Eafon is best known for being the team captain of the best football team in school history, he initially came to Arizona in 1994 to play basketball.

And there was one reason.

“I wanted to be Damon,” the Dallas, Texas native said. “And I know I wasn’t the only one. Damon made it cool for kids from the ghetto to become Wildcats.

“It was because of that up and down style and that kind of play you weren’t use to seeing out there. He played like us. He changed the scene for guys like me.”

It says here that Stoudamire was the second best player to ever dawn an Arizona uniform, and arguably the second most impactful player in the history of the school.

Now that Athletic Director Byrne has honored Miles Simon, there is one more player that absolutely needs to be included.

If Byrne’s recent history of moving on jersey honors is any indication, it won’t be long before Mighty Mouse’s jersey is watching over Lute and Bobbi Olson Court.

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