Hoop fans from BC often cringe when they hear the name Bryant "Big Country" Reeves, a two-time Big Eight Player of the Year at Oklahoma State. After a quiet freshman campaign, Big Country erupted for 19.5 points on 62.1 percent shooting and 10.0 rebounds per game as a sophomore.
Reeves' ascension continued through his senior season, when he led the fourth-seeded Cowboys to the 1995 Final Four. Through the first four rounds, he waged war with a quartet of future NBA bigs—and impressed every time he played them. He outplayed Malik Rose, Antonio McDyess, Tim Duncan & Marcus Camby on the way to the 1995 Final Four.
A star in the college ranks, Reeves had the most notable name of any player left on the draft board. More importantly, he brought his country size frame that the Grizzlies craved to anchor their interior.
Quality size in the NBA looked dramatically different then from how it does now. The All-Star rosters for Reeves' rookie season featured the likes of Shaquille O'Neal, Alonzo Mourning, Patrick Ewing, Hakeem Olajuwon, David Robinson and Dikembe Mutombo.
Big bodies were an essential element of survival then, and the Grizzlies viewed Reeves as their best option. He mostly looked the part as an NBA rookie, tallying 13.3 points and 7.4 rebounds in 31.9 minutes per game.
On the court, Reeves' style appeared better suited for college. He played at a plodding place and lived below the rim. His lack of explosiveness carried fatal-flaw potential in a league littered with world-class athletes.
He averaged 16.2 points, 8.1 rebounds and 2.1 assists as a sophomore, then upped the ante with 16.3 points on 52.3 percent shooting, 7.9 boards, 2.1 assists and 1.1 blocks the next year. He had 25 games of at least 20 points and 10 rebounds during that stretch, which tied for the 18th most in the NBA.
Reeves had enough of those moments that the Grizzlies rewarded him with a six-year, $61.8 million dollar extension. The rate looked relatively reasonable through the following campaign, but the 1998-99 lockout proved costly for both the player and the franchise.