DeAndre Mathieu’s impact with the Gophers led to reflection on the history of junior college transfers with this basketball team. Several prominent JUCOs were mentioned in a Star Tribune blog, with the covenant that there were probably some prominent players missing from the list.
As it turned out, the forgotten included Ollie Shannon, not the best of the JUCOs but perhaps the most interesting.
In today’s game, Shannon would be referred to as a “volume scorer,” a generous label. Back in his two seasons at Minnesota, from 1969 to 1971, we looked at Ollie as the ultimate “gunner.”
Shannon had been a prolific scorer in New York City, finishing his high school days at the famed Erasmus Hall in Brooklyn. There was one item lacking from his résumé: a high school diploma.
This was discovered after he arrived at Cameron Junior College in Texas. His enrollment there had been arranged by North Texas State.
The lack of diploma meant Shannon couldn’t play, so he played pickup basketball and went to night school. He ran into Jerry Kindall, then a Gophers baseball assistant, at a gathering for Christian athletes.
Kindall told Ollie to consider Minnesota. Shannon came to Minneapolis and enrolled at Metropolitan Junior College. This later would become Minneapolis Community College.
Shannon had 70 points in one game for Metro. It still stood as a school record when the program was shut down four years ago.
Ollie was lined up to play for the Gophers. Bill Fitch was the coach and his team had weapons beyond Shannon. Larry Mikan and Larry Overskei were a couple of senior standouts and that team and Ollie had to use some restraint with his mad shooting.
He did lead the team in scoring at 18.9 points per game. The highlight of a season in which the Gophers finished 13-11 and 7-7 in the Big Ten came early at Williams Arena. The Gophers took the dynastic UCLA Bruins into overtime before losing 72-71.
Fitch left after the season to become the coach of the expansion Cleveland Cavaliers. The Gophers kicked around candidates and then decided to give the job to assistant George Hanson.
Shannon was turned loose under Hanson. He scored 26 apiece in nonconference games against Bradley and Marquette.
There were questions being raised about Hanson’s ability to discipline his team, particularly Shannon. He decided to suspend Shannon for missing a practice without a proper excuse, and Ollie missed another with an injury.
Today, we would never have found out that Shannon had missed a practice. He might not have started, for an unspecified reason, and then life would have gone on.
Back then, the media and the fans were such stuffed shirts — so into the idea that the coach was a ruler and players were subservient — that missing a practice caused Shannon to become a controversial character with the public.
The Big Ten started and Ollie was putting up 24, 26, 27 points, and the Gophers were losing. Finally, Shannon had 26 in a 97-86 victory over Michigan State, and kept putting up his points.
The Gophers were 4-8 in the Big Ten and 10-12 overall going into Shannon’s last game at Williams Arena on March 7, 1971.
“I wanted to look good for the people in my last game here,” Shannon said after the game. “I wanted to leave doing something. My main motivation was that I never felt like I had done here what I was capable of doing.”
|Chicago Cubs||6||Top 7th Inning|
|Los Angeles||3||Bottom 7th Inning|
|Cleveland||3||Top 8th Inning|
|Kansas City||5||Top 7th Inning|
|Seattle||12||Top 8th Inning|
|Arizona||5||Top 8th Inning|
|Oakland||4||Top 8th Inning|
|New York||6:30 PM|
|Ottawa||5||3rd Prd 5:58|
|Mount St Marys||77||FINAL|
|Arkansas||48||2nd Half 4:23|
|Pittsburgh||58||2nd Half 4:17|
|South Carolina||68||2nd Half 1:03|
|Oral Roberts||70||2nd Half 1:14|
|Arizona||46||2nd Half 8:48|
|Missouri||39||2nd Half 4:35|
|Auburn||65||2nd Half 1:09|
|Texas||45||2nd Half 6:40|
|Colorado State||54||2nd Half 8:55|
|Seton Hall||35||2nd Half 14:10|
|George Washington||40||2nd Half 15:26|
|Ball State||34||2nd Half 15:26|
|Arizona State||35||2nd Half 17:38|
|USC||37||2nd Half 18:44|
|Incarnate Word||41||2nd Half 11:36|
|New Orleans||22||1st Half 0:01|
|Sam Houston St||43|
|Georgia||30||1st Half 0:00|
|Weber State||27||1st Half 4:40|
|Holy Cross||5||1st Half 15:52|
|Loyola Marymount||10||1st Half 12:00|
|Southern Ill||13||1st Half 9:30|
|Jackson State||5:00 PM|
|Ga Southern||5:00 PM|
|James Madison||5:00 PM|
|Saint Peters||5:30 PM|
|Texas Southern||5:30 PM|
|Grambling St||6:00 PM|
|Eastern Ky||6:00 PM|
|Wright State||6:00 PM|
|SE Louisiana||6:00 PM|
|UC Riverside||6:00 PM|
|Long Beach State|
|Northern Colorado||6:00 PM|
|St Bonaventure||6:00 PM|
|UC Davis||6:30 PM|
|Central Arkansas||6:30 PM|
|Stephen F Austin|
|Grand Canyon||7:00 PM|
|Prairie View||7:30 PM|
|Miss Valley St||7:30 PM|
|Texas State||7:30 PM|
|Coll of Charleston||7:30 PM|
|William & Mary|
|McNeese State||7:30 PM|
|North Carolina||8:00 PM|
|Santa Clara||8:00 PM|
|UC Santa Barbara||9:00 PM|
|Fresno State||9:00 PM|
|San Jose St|
|Idaho State||9:05 PM|
|Montana State||9:05 PM|
|New Mexico||9:05 PM|
|San Diego St|
|Cal State Fullerton||10:59 PM|
|Sporting Kansas City||0||FINAL|
|Red Bull New York||6:30 PM|
|New England||7:30 PM|
|Real Salt Lake||9:30 PM|
|(5) South Carolina||58|
|(18) Oklahoma St||67|
|East Tenn St||50||FINAL|
|Fla Gulf Coast||74||FINAL|
|(15) Texas A&M||77||FINAL|
|Sam Houston St||87|
|No Dakota State||64||FINAL|
|Eastern Washington||63||2nd Half 3:56|
|Northern Ariz||64||2nd Half 1:27|
|Sacramento St||57||2nd Half 2:55|
|Utah Valley U||50||2nd Half 1:03|
|TX-Pan American||53||2nd Half 3:46|
|Jackson State||56||2nd Half 2:17|
|Prairie View||41||2nd Half 6:30|
|Texas Southern||55||2nd Half 6:16|
|Louisiana||44||2nd Half 0:39|
|Western Carolina||45||2nd Half 9:33|
|Cal-Irvine||28||1st Half 0:09|
|(14) NC State||15||1st Half 2:40|
|(2) Notre Dame||38|
|UMKC||26||1st Half 2:38|
|Central Arkansas||13||1st Half 2:06|
|Stephen F Austin||27|
|SE Louisiana||28||1st Half 3:49|
|Cal Poly||36||2nd Half|
|UC Santa Barbara||35|
|ULM||6||1st Half 14:57|
|(16) Nebraska||4:55 PM|
|(19) Michigan State|
|Miss Valley St||5:00 PM|
|Texas State||5:15 PM|
|Chicago State||6:00 PM|
|(7) West Virginia|
|(13) North Carolina||6:30 PM|
|Cal State Fullerton|
|Northern Colorado||8:30 PM|
|Long Beach St||9:00 PM|
|Washington St||10:30 PM|