Can The Clippers’ Collective March Madness Success Translate to the NBA?


The Los Angeles Clippers have had plenty representation in March Madness.

The players have accomplished many impressive feats, ranging from team firsts to tournament champs. Much like the Clippers’ own team history, this is one full of ups and downs.


One of the best things about March Madness is the upsets.

Who doesn’t love rooting for an underdog?

In 2019, Amir Coffey and the Minnesota Golden Gophers upset Louisville in the first round. Their red-hot three-point shooting led to Minnesota’s first tournament win in six years.

Unfortunately, their tournament play came to an end in the next round against Michigan State. Coffey went out fighting, scoring 27 of his team’s 50 points in the loss.

Moussa Diabate also partook in not one but two upset wins in the 2022 tournament. Diabate and his Michigan Wolverines entered the tournament with a No. 11 seed.

In their first game of the tourney, they upset sixth-seeded Colorado State. Their next game was an even more impressive upset. They spoiled the three-seed Tennessee’s hopes of a deep tourney run. Diabate dominated inside with 13 points and three blocks.

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Before Kawhi Leonard became an NBA superstar, discussions around him usually questioned if his jump shot would be good enough for him to be a 3-and-D player in the league.

Even in his college days, however, he was exceeding expectations.

After a first-round tournament loss in 2010, Kawhi came back next year and led the San Diego State Aztecs to a No. 2 seed. The Aztecs boasted a 34-3 record in their 2010-11 season.

In the tournament, Kawhi helped the Aztecs reach their first ever sweet sixteen. Kawhi averaged 16 points, nine rebounds and three assists over three games.

Their loss to UConn was controversial to say the least. One of the biggest talking points at the time was whether Jamaal Franklin shoulder-checked Kemba Walker or did he flop.

The Aztecs were up 53-49 at the time of the ‘incident’.  It resulted in a technical on Franklin, giving the Huskies free throws that would halt the momentum the Aztecs had been building.

The Aztecs only scored four points in the next five minutes of play. What was looking like a win for San Diego had suddenly become an eight-point Huskies lead.

The Huskies were able to fend off a late surge from the Aztecs, including a clutch pull-up three from Kawhi in the final moments of the game.

UConn was lead by Jeremy Lamb and Kemba Walker who could not be stopped. They combined to score 60 of their team’s 74 points this game.


The Clippers boast a lot of good college players, and they have the tournament accolades to show it.

After a slow start to his tournament performance, Terance Mann earned himself a spot on the 2018 West All-Region team.

Mann and the Florida State Seminoles beat the top-seeded Xavier and fourth-seeded Gonzaga on their way to an Elite Eight appearance, with Mann’s best performance coming in his 18-point outing against Gonzaga.

While this is not a March Madness moment, Mann hit an unbelievably tough jumper to win an ACC quarterfinal game in 2019.

An acrobatic long two that bounces for what seems like forever on the rim, surely Kawhi would be proud.

Marcus Morris earned a spot on the Southwest All-Region team in 2011 with Kansas.

Kansas was upset by the No. 11 seed, VCU. Morris did his best to try and prevent the upset, posting an absurd 20-point and 16-rebound statline in the loss.

Newly acquired Clipper Russell Westbrook went to back-to-back Final Fours in 2007 and 2008.

While he spent a majority of his time on the bench in 2007, he earned a spot on the West All-Region team alongside UCLA teammates Kevin Love and Darren Collison in 2008.

Westbrook also played alongside former and extremely underrated Clipper Luc Mbah a Moute.

The most prestigious accolade on the Clips roster is a tournament championship, which belongs to Mason Plumlee. Plumlee won as a bench player with Duke in 2010.

His best individual tournament came in 2013 where he reached the Elite Eight, averaging 16 points and eight rebounds per game.


Two of the youngest Clippers have been a part of some very unfortunate circumstances.

In 2021, Brandon Boston Jr. and Kentucky made NCAA Tournament history!

By being a part of the first Kentucky team to miss the tournament since 1976

At least Duke also did not make the tournament— people seem to like when Duke loses.

Not only was Bones Hyland‘s first chance to participate in the tournament ruined by COVID, but so was his second chance.

After the tournament was cancelled in 2020, college players were extra eager to prove themselves on the big stage in 2021.

Sadly, Bones’ and his VCU Rams tournament dreams were foiled by positive COVID tests. Oregon was granted the automatic win in the first round and VCU players were sent home.

“It just left me in tears. I had been waiting for that moment my whole life. For something to be taken away from you so fast, you’re just left in awe. Like, it’s so crazy. It was lots of tears. I’m a very passionate kid about the game and about the big moments and the big events that basketball hosts.” Hyland told USA Today.

Hopefully Bones’ streak of bad luck has ended as he and the Clippers aim to make a deep run in the NBA playoffs.

About Josh Douglas

Josh is a fan of shot creators, big guys that play like guards, and on-court accessories. He is an avid supporter of all things Clippers and 76ers. Josh writes about the L.A. Clippers.

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