Blackman one of the best

Kansas State, little more than a decade removed from the glory days of basketball, hearkened back to that era once again Monday when two-time All-American Rolando Blackman was named to the Silver Anniversary All-Big 12 team.

Affectionately known as "the Shot," and accompanied by a Sports Illustrated cover, on March 23, 1981, The Mighty Have Fallen. Rolando Blackman, fading to the baseline, knocks down a 16-foot jumpshot to upset second-ranked Oregon State in the NCAA Tournament.

Blackman, a 6-foot-6, 190 pound guard out of Brooklyn rivals Bob Boozer and Mitch Richmond among the best to ever play for the Wildcats. He was honored as such Monday when ESPN named it's five-man Silvery Anniversary All-Big 12 team during halftime of the Oklahoma State-Texas Tech game. Blackman (1977-81) joined Texas guard T.J. Ford (2001-2003), Oklahoma forward Wayman Tisdale (1982-85), Kansas forward Danny Manning (1985-88) and Missouri center Steve Stipanovich (1979-83) on the team.

While Blackman is best remembered for his game-winning shot against the Beavers, the four-year letterwinner had one of the most prolific careers in Wildcat history, rivaled perhaps only by Mike Evans for the best four-year stint. As a freshman, Blackman, started 24 of 29 games and averaged nearly 11 points per game. He would start the next 92 games of his career, averaging 17.3, 17.8 and 15 points per game his sophomore, junior and senior seasons, respectively. The shooting guard, although it may be more apt to call him a scoring guard, also averaged five rebounds per game and dolled out 320 assists in his career.

Blackman's .517 shooting percentage still ranks among the best in Big Eight/Big 12 history, and his 1,844 points rank him second on K-State's all-time scoring list (Evans, 2,115). He was a three-time unanimous All-Big Eight pick, earned Player-of-the-Year honors after his junior season and was an All-American his junior and senior years. He also started on the 1980 USA Olympic Team and parlayed his Kansas State career into a first-round draft pick (ninth overall) by the NBA's Dallas Mavericks.

While few players have gone on to NBA success past Kansas State, Blackman spent a long and healthy professional career both stateside and in Europe. For 11 seasons, Blackman helped lead the Mavericks backcourt by averaging between 13.3 points (as a rookie) and 22.4 points per game. The four-time NBA All-Star also led the Mavs to six postseason appearances and holds franchise records for points (16,643), field goals made, free throws made and minutes played. His No. 22 jersey still hangs from the rafters in Dallas.

In 1992, the player Magic Johnson called "one of the best shooters of all time and one of the most difficult players to guard" was traded to the New York Knicks, where he helped lead them to the Eastern Conference championship before losing to Michael Jordan and the eventual champion Chicago Bulls. He played in New York until 1994, when he went to Europe and played the 1994-95 season with the Greek team AEK before finishing his playing career with the Italian team Stefanel Milano. True to his K-State form, Blackman helped lead his Italian team to the Italian Cup final, scoring 28 points and pulling down three rebounds along the way.

Blackman's success extends beyond just the hardwood, though, where he is now the Maverick's assistant coach in charge of defense. Blackman left Kansas State just 20 hours shy of his degree, and was able to take advantage of the university's Second Wind program to graduate. "Continuing to work on my degree is important to me because of my work ethic," Blackman said. I want to finish anything that I start. The Second Wind program offers me the opportunity to fit studying around my personal life."

While Blackman can arguably be called a success on the court as well as off, it was on the court that ESPN recently named him a starter on its Silver Anniversary team. Now in its 25th season of college basketball coverage, ESPN is unveiling teams from the eight major college basketball conferences over the past 25 seasons, dating to 1979-80.


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