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Jeff Eisenberg

The story behind 10 of college basketball's memorable names

Jeff Eisenberg
The Dagger

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Like court-storming students, crumpled brackets and cut-down nets, unusual names are one of the staples of every college basketball season.

From Providence's God Shammgod to Seattle University's Austen Powers to Alabama State's Chief Kickingstallionsims, college basketball has featured dozens of players with memorable names in recent years.

The graduation of Siena guard Just-in'love Smith has deprived the sport of one of its best-ever names, but there are still plenty of other good ones. Here's a look at 10 of this college basketball season's most outlandish names and the stories behind how each of those were chosen:

Orion Outerbridge, F, Rhode Island

Meaning: In Greek mythology, Orion was a formidable hunter who was turned into a constellation. The Orion constellation consists of three of the most conspicuous stars in the night sky.

Orion Outerbridge's name was the ultimate last-minute decision.

As the Rhode Island forward's mother Lorna lay in a hospital bed preparing to give birth, his father and uncle were skimming through a book of baby names trying desperately to find one they all could accept.

"At first my mother didn't like Orion because she thought it was spelled the Irish way [O'Ryan]," Outerbridge said. "When they told her it was spelled O-R-I-O-N, she fell in love with the name and decided that's what she wanted to name me."

Outerbridge's friends often call him "Big O," but the 6-foot-9 junior has loved his given name since childhood. Not only does he regularly look up to find the Orion constellation when he's outside at night, he also believes he shares some personality traits with his Greek god namesake.

"He was the hunter and he was fearless," Outerbridge said. "Sometimes I feel like that's who I am when I step out on the court. I try to bring that same mentality."

Dundrecous Nelson, G, Ole Miss

Meaning: none

Dundrecous Nelson's first name has been mispronounced so many different ways over the years that the Mississippi freshman has lost count.

"Dun-DEE-kus, Dun-DRAY-kus, DUN-dre-kus," Nelson said, chuckling. "Every time somebody says my name, they don't say it right. Maybe one time they got it right the first time, but everybody else messes it up."

For the record, Nelson said his first name is pronounced Dun-DREE-kus. The name has no special meaning that he's aware of, but his mother chose it because she simply liked how it sounded.

Although it got irritating as a kid always having teachers and classmates mispronounce his first name, Nelson said having a unique name has grown on him. And considering the 3-point shooting Nelson has provided off the bench in recent weeks, it may not be long before Dundrecous becomes such a household name in Oxford that he won't have to keep correcting everyone.

Jimmer Fredette, G, BYU

Meaning: Short form of James, which is derived from the Hebrew name Jacob meaning, "he who supplants."

Had BYU guard Jimmer Fredette's older sister had her way, Al and Kay Fredette would have chosen a more conventional first name for their second son.

"My daughter was nine when Jimmer was born and she didn't like the name at all," Al Fredette recalled. "She said, ‘That's a crazy name. I'm not going to call him Jimmer.' We won her over after a while. Everyone kept calling him Jimmer."

Fredette's true first name is actually James after his mother's brother, but his family has called the preseason all-American guard Jimmer since the day he was born. His mother liked that name since high school when a younger brother of one of her close friends went by Jimmer.

Kay Fredette went to extraordinary lengths when Jimmer was young to make sure everyone used his nickname.

"She went to school and she said, ‘I'd really prefer you call him Jimmer, not Jimmy or Jim or James. I want him to be called Jimmer,'" Al Fredette said. "It's stuck ever since. Everybody knows him as Jimmer."

Onochie Ochie, G/F, Southeastern Louisiana

Meaning: In Nigeria's Ibo tribe, Onochie means "to replace"

Southeastern Louisiana freshman Onochie Ochie's name may have sounded exotic to his childhood friends in Georgia, but the meaning is probably simpler than they imagined.

In Nigeria's Ibo tribe, the name Onochie is the equivalent to the name Junior in the United States. According to Ochie's father, the basic English translation of Onochie is "to replace."

"It's a name that's very popular in our tribe," Dr. Charles Ochie said. "Onochie means 'to replace' and he will be taking my place. It was very, very important for us to give him that name."

Having an uncommon name forced Ochie to correct some mispronunciations growing up, most notably one well-meaning acquaintance who initially referred to him as "Okie Dokie." Ochie initially disliked his given name and wanted to go by his middle name of Charles, but he came to appreciate it by age 13 or 14.

"Initially he was kind of reluctant because his friends thought it was strange," Charles Ochie said. "We kept telling him to keep his name, keep his name, keep his name and after a while he got to like it."

Stargell Love, G, Baylor

Meaning: Taken from Pittsburgh Pirates star Willie Stargell

Although Stargell Love's mother was a passionate sports fan born and raised in North Carolina, she didn't name her son after Michael Jordan, Dean Smith or any other legends of the Tar Heel state.

Instead, the Baylor freshman's first name comes from Willie Stargell, the slugging first baseman for the Pittsburgh Pirates of the 1960s and '70s.

"I don't know what it was about Willie Stargell," Love said. "She just really loved sports and she liked his name, so she named me after him."

Love often introduces himself to strangers by his middle name of Alonzo because he knows it's easier to pronounce, but he said he has liked his name since childhood. He's read all about Willie Stargell and how he led the Pirates to two World Series titles in 1971 and 1979.

It would have been fitting had Love grown up to be a baseball player, but basketball was always his passion.

"I played baseball when I was younger but I never followed through with it," Love said. "I always liked basketball more."

Jabs Newby, G, Eastern Kentucky

Meaning: Jabs is short for Jabulani, which means "to bring happiness."

It didn't take long for Jabulani Newby's family to realize he needed a nickname because others were having trouble pronouncing his first name.

His older sister started calling him "Jabs" when he was 4 years old. Within months, everyone else followed suit.

"I like my nickname a lot because it's short and sweet," the Eastern Kentucky guard said. "I'm one of the few basketball players with a name like that. My name is memorable and nobody's going to forget about it."

Newby's family must have been able to see into the future because both his given name and nickname suit him perfectly.

Jabulani means "to bring happiness" and Newby said he's always smiling. And while Newby has never set foot in a boxing ring, the nickname "Jabs" fits his basketball game well.

"It goes along with my quick jab step on the court," he said.

Beloved Rogers, G, Prairie View A&M

Meaning: Dear to the heart

In the two decades since Robin Carter chose the name "Beloved" for her youngest son, his eighth-grade football coach is the only person she recalls having a problem with her unusual selection.

"The coach called him ‘B,'" Carter said. "He said, ‘I cannot call him Beloved and tell him to go hit someone hard.'"

Carter chose the name "Beloved" for her son when someone told her that's what the name David meant. Rather than choosing the common name for the future Prairie View A&M guard, she opted for the more original one instead.

Despite the football coach's objection, Carter said both she and Beloved are happy with his name.

"His personality and character just fit his name," Carter said. "He's just a caring kid."

Alibaba Odd, G, Delaware State

Meaning: Ali Baba is the protagonist in the story Ali Baba and the 40 Thieves. The name also means "the greatest father" in Swahili.

Alibaba Odd's Delaware State bio says his first name means "the greatest father" in Swahili, but the sophomore guard's mother insists that's not how she chose it.

"It's because of the story," Tanza Odd said. "I thought of the name from that and I just liked the sound of it."

The story, of course, is Ali Baba and the 40 thieves, a fictional tale from medieval Arabic literature. Ali Baba is an honest man who finds the location of the thieves' treasure and eventually is able to profit because of the discovery

Alibaba Odd goes by lots of nicknames, from Bobby to Ali to just "B." Nonetheless, his mother said he doesn't mind his name.

"People would tease him about it but it is what is," Tanza Odd said. "It's not changing. It's his name."

Cashmere Wright, G, Cincinnati

Meaning: fine wool from the undercoat of the cashmere goat

Cashmere Wright's friends and family knew him by his middle name of Akeem for the first 13 years of his life until one of his AAU coaches discovered his unique first name.

"The coach told him there were lots of Akeems out there," the Cincinnati guard's mother, Patricia Wright, said. "Then he asked, 'Why don't you go by Cashmere?'"

Wright was lukewarm about the transition for a while, but he warmed to the idea when he discovered girls liked the name Cashmere better than Akeem.

"The girls thought it was cute and they thought it was unique," Patricia Wright said. "That's when he became Cash."

Patricia Wright came up with the name Cashmere for her son when she was pregnant and heard someone on a TV show mention the word. Ironically, however, she's now one of the few people in Wright's life who still know him as Akeem.

"His family and friends all call him Cashmere, but it's still hard for me," Patricia Wright said. "Every time I call him Akeem, he just looks at me and laughs."

LaceDarius Dunn, G, Baylor

Meaning: None

LaceDarius Dunn has one of the most original names in college basketball, but it may not even be the most memorable in the preseason All-American guard's own family.

His mother's name is Roena. His older sister's name is Roniquia. And his brother's name is DaVarious.

Roena Lee has no regrets about giving her kids such eccentric names. She loves that nobody else has her kids' names and she loves that she receives so much attention because of them.

"I get excited and everybody's like, 'Where you get that from?'" she told the Washington Post earlier this year.

Part of Dunn's first name came from his father, Lacey, but Lee doesn't know how she came up with the rest. It doesn't matter to Dunn, who likes his name even though he admits he often has to correct people on how to say it or spell it.

"I've had it for 23 years. I can't change it," he told the Post. "I turned it into a popular name that people come to know through the things I do. I'm enjoying it."

Honorable Mention: Bak Bak, F, California; Picasso Simmons, G, Murray State; Robo Kreps, G, Illinois-Chicago; Anthony "Humpty" Hitchens, G, James Madison; Blondy Baruti, F, Tulsa; Biko Paris, G, Boston College;

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