January 25th, 2006
Ivy Basketball: Where
Are They Now?
In Jon Teitel's continuing
series of interviews with former Ivy League stars, he chats with Nate
Walton, team leader on three Ivy championship teams and son of legend Bill
Walton, and Marco McCrotty, a Columbia grad currently playing pro ball in
Nate Walton: Forward, Princeton,
1996-2001, won 3 Ivy titles, 1-time All-Ivy 1st-team.
1. What team do you currently play for, and
what other professional teams have you played for since graduating? I
played professionally in France for a season, and recently played some
exhibition matches in Beijing and Shanghai with some of my old Princeton
2. If your playing days are already over,
what are you up to these days? I just finished my MBA at Stanford
University, and I am looking to do whatever interesting things come my
3. What was the best moment of your college
career? Winning the Ivy League title with four freshmen and myself against
a heavily favored Penn team in 2001 (Walton had a game-high 8 rebounds, 7
assists, and 6 steals in a 68-52 win over Penn on March 6, 2001).
4. What are the major differences between
play and other Division 1 play? The speed: most Ivy teams play a slower
style, and therefore the games are lower scoring.
5. Who was the best player you ever played
with? Larry Bird was a pretty good 2-on-2 partner.
6. Who was the best player you ever played
against? My younger brother Luke (who plays for the Lakers), who is the
most competitive player I have been on the court with.
7. Who was the best coach you ever played
for? Jim Tomey (my high school coach and a “Coaching Legend” in the San
Diego Hall of Champions) and John Thompson III (who is now coaching
8. Who was the best coach you ever played
against? Roy Williams (coach of defending national champion North
9. What advice do you have for current
players who want to make it to the pros? Good luck, get your degree,
and try your best.
10. What advice do you have for current
players who are not sure what to do if they cannot make it to the pros?
Take advantage of the wonderful head start you have been given by getting
a great education.
11. What players have been the biggest
influence on you? My father (Hall-of-Famer Bill Walton), Larry Bird, and
my younger brother Luke.
12. Who is your favorite past college
basketball player, and why? All three of my brothers (Adam, Chris, and
Luke) played Division
1 basketball, so they are all equal favorites of mine.
is your favorite current professional basketball player, and why? My
little brother Luke and his friends (Kareem Rush, Brian Cook, and Richard
14. Who is your favorite past professional
basketball player, and why? Larry Bird: he dominated the game in so many
ways, and always did it without being selfish.
15. Who is going to win the
Ivy basketball title this year? I am surprised every year if
Princeton does not win the title. The other teams have gotten more
competitive over the past decade, but I still like the orange-and-black
cutting backdoor, hitting three-pointers, and playing tough defense.
Marco McCottry: Forward, Columbia,
1. What team do you currently play for, and what
other professional teams have you played for since graduating? I am
currently playing in the Spanish LEB-2 division for Noyastar Rosalia. My
first stop out here was for a team called Essen Schwarz-Weiss in the
German Bundesliga 2. Last year I tried out in France Pro A, but
ultimately ended up in the Portuguese first division called the TMN.
There I played for Cab Madeira on the Island of Madeira. I was an all-star
in this league, but got out of my contract to come to Spain to play
because of the opportunity. The top league here is second to only the NBA,
and the level of competition in the lower leagues is considered superior
to that of many 1st divisions in other countries.
2. What do you plan on doing once your playing days
are over? When I'm done playing I'm looking to get involved in the
entertainment industry, or at least that is my dream. I have a passion for
music and film, and am enrolling in the New York Film Academy this
summer. During my free time here I have been studying and reading a lot
of books about the world of finance as well. With my economics degree, I
am still curious about the economy, and am considering business school as
3. What was the best moment of your professional
career? My last game in Spain last year. It was game five of a playoff to
stay in the league. I had never experienced a playoff series before, so it
was a great experience winning a game five on the road and helping keep my
team from being relegated to another league.
4. What was the best moment of your college career?
My college career was not filled with bright spots, but I still remember
my best moment. It was clearly defeating Penn and Princeton consecutively
at home (on February 16 and 17, 2001). Although I did not play much or
score a tremendous amount of points, I never felt so much a part of a
team, or a team sport. It is what separates basketball from track, golf,
or tennis. You count on other guys and other guys count on you: you win
together and you lose together.
5. What are the major differences between the
professional game and the college game? The big difference between Ivy
and pro ball is the egos. Maybe I would have experienced it more had I
been in a big Division 1 school and people were playing for NBA looks, but
in the Ivy not too many think they have a chance, so they play solely for
the love of the game. In the pros it is hard to find guys like that.
Unfortunately, money is more of a motivating factor than passion, and many
are playing for bigger contracts. Everyone wants to do better the next
year. Money changes the dynamics of the sport, so I would have to say it
is definitely different.
6. Who was the best player you ever played against?
In workouts and summer leagues I have had the opportunity to play against
many good players from the top NBA players down to the college ranks, and
I cannot point out one that was the greatest. Most guys who play in the
NBA all look like the greatest I have ever played against: those guys do
not even miss in pickup games.
7. Who was the best coach you ever played for? My
best coach was my high school coach. He tried to prepare me for what was
down the road and what team play was all about: at the time I did not
understand, but with hindsight I really appreciate what he tried to do for
me. My college coach taught me some things that stick with me to this day
as well. He used to tell me that basketball prepares you for the real
world. Man, how right he was.
8. Who was the best coach you ever played against?
I never pay attention to who is coaching on the opposite bench when I'm
playing. Its funny, I vividly remember my first college game against Duke,
but I don't remember even looking at Coach K the entire night. I guess I
just focus on who is out there on the floor. That's my opponent: I am not
worried about who is coming in or who is giving instructions to the other
9. What advice do you have for current Ivy League
players who want to make it to the pros? Go for it: do not let anyone
tell you that you are not good enough. People have done wonders with a
little bit of opportunity: just be patient and you might get that chance.
10. What players have been the biggest influence on
you? I try to pattern my game after guys like Ron Artest and Bruce
Bowen. It is easy for teams to find guys who can put the ball through the
net out here, but it is difficult to find guys who can stop a player from
doing that. Defense wins championships: we all have heard it before many
times, because it is so true.
11. What are the best changes in your game that you
have noticed from the time you played in college until now? I think my
overall skill level has improved from shooting to ball handling to
defense. I also have a better understanding for the game and the value of
the word “team” a lot more.
12. Who is your favorite past college basketball
player, and why? Michael Jordan, hands down.
13. Who is your favorite current pro basketball
player, and why? Lebron James: I am from Cleveland.
14. Who is going to win the Ivy basketball title
this year? No problem: the Columbia Lions.