Seniors Give Program Hope

Seniors Give Program Hope

Four years ago, five individuals walked on campus as relative unknowns. Today, they end their careers with a tight bond and a program that has achieved nation relevance.

The first one to make the call was Illinois forward Dwayne Evans. The six-foot-six phoned the late Saint Louis University head coach Rick Majerus and told him he wanted to be a Billiken.

Mike McCall Jr., another Illinois native, shortly thereafter made his commitment.

New Zealander big man Rob Loe decided the Atlantic 10 school was for him in March of 2010.

Jordair Jett, playing at prep school in Massachusetts, but by way of St. Paul, Minnesota said Majerus' style was for him, too.

A transfer from the University of Toledo, Jake Barnett, wanted to play under the tutelage of Rick Majerus – so he too would don the blue and white for the remainder of his career.

That was the start of it all. A wild ride over the course of four years that would bring these five individuals incredibly close.

There were plenty of positives and negatives. An offseason snafu forced them into playing early and often. The defeats came in bunches. McCall Jr. led the team in scoring as a freshman.

During the 2011-12 season, they won the 76 Classic in Anaheim, grabbed a Top 25 ranking, and finished second in the A-10 Conference. A win over Memphis in the NCAA Tournament marked the last victory this team would have under the legendary Majerus.

On Dec. 1, 2012, Majerus passed away. This group of guys responded by winning not only the A-10 regular season championship, but the A-10 tournament title in Brooklyn as well.

This season, in their last hoorah, SLU reached some pretty amazing heights. Once ranked as high as No. 8 in the polls, the Billikens won 19 straight games and became a household name nationally. A rough path saw the Bills skid into the 2014 NCAA Tournament with more questions than answers.

Down 16 points with eight minutes remaining, it appeared as though SLU was destined for a brutal end for the winningest class in school history. But then there was The Comeback. The Billikens didn't want it to be the end. An 83-80 victory over N.C. State set up a Round of 32 matchup against defending national champion Louisville.

After battling back from a nightmarish start, the Cardinals were simply too much on this Saturday afternoon. But taking a look back, no one can diminish what those five seniors have meant to this program.

They didn't expect anyone to feel sorry for them. They didn't make excuses. Instead, they walked off the court for the last time in Orlando on Saturday as a unit -- having accomplished so much.

From here on out, the bar has been set for the future of SLU hoops. It started four years ago with five guys from different backgrounds, and even different continents, but it ended today with five brothers.

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