I don’t have any skin in the game, but I’d like to see the Iowa men’s basketball team get a verbal commitment from junior college forward Willie Atwood Thursday for one reason:
(Atwood postponed his decision from today to Thursday afternoon, by the way.)
Tell me Willie Atwood isn’t a great name. Heck, “Willie” in itself is a great sports name. In baseball alone you had Willie Mays, Willie McCovey, Willie Stargell, Willie Wilson, Willie McGee, Willie Randolph.
It goes all the way back to Wee Willie Keeler, in fact. Don’t laugh. He’s a Hall of Famer.
But it’s not just a great sports name. Two words: Willie Nelson. If the name “Willie” is cool enough for Willie Nelson, it’s cool enough for anyone.
I’ve never seen him take a shot, but Willie Atwood sounds like the name of a player. Whether it’s Iowa, Florida State or Arizona State, the team that gets him will be lucky to have that name on its roster.
The Hawkeyes’ best name of recent years was Melsahn Basabe. It’s fun to say. Television’s Gus Johnson loved saying it. I think the best name of returning Iowa players is Peter Jok. Jok with the shot. Bang!
With the addition of freshman Dominique Uhl — another great name — Iowa will have to be the only team of any kind with two players with three-letter surnames. That’s a good thing.
Iowa State’s basketball team is losing a great name with the departure of DeAndre Kane. Like Dominique Uhl, it’s an elegant first name with a one-syllable last name. Those work. Just ask LeBron James.
Northern Iowa has a couple of great basketball names. Seth Tuttle sounds like someone who would stare down Wyatt Earp at the OK Corral. Max Martino, well, I’d trade names with him in a heartbeat. If you’re a Max Martino, you can be anything you want, from a Las Vegas headliner to the U.S. Secretary of State.
Is it any accident some of basketball’s best players have great names? I don’t think so. You like your name, you like yourself. You can conquer the world.
For simplicity, there are Chris Paul, Dwyane Wade, John Wall, Paul George. For lyricism, you have Joakim Noah, LaMarcus Aldridge, Dirk Nowitzki.
In football, my favorite names of returning Iowa players starts with Carl Davis. You want a defensive tackle with a name like “Carl Davis.” All-business, straight-ahead.
On the defensive line with him is Louis Trinca-Pasat. What a fantastic name. He sounds like he should have been hanging out with Monet and Renoir, making cherished Impressionist paintings and having Paris in the palm of his hand.
Quarterback Jake Rudock has a great name. To me, a Jake Rudock is a rough-and-tumble action hero. But you meet Iowa’s Jake Rudock and find him to be a true scholar and a gentleman.
That means he has let himself determine who he’ll be, not his name. Which just adds to his credibility.
OK, that’s all for now. I’ll be back to update this when we learn where Willie Atwood takes his good name to college next season.