This time of year is best known for its buzzer-beaters in the NCAA Tournament.
One of the most famous is Keith Smart’s baseline jumper with three seconds to go to help Indiana beat Syracuse, 74-73, in the 1987 championship game.
The sequence that led to Smart’s game-winner is now emblazoned across the front of the Perryman Athletic Complex’s lobby wall as part of a tribute mural to former Garden City Community College student-athletes.
Smart played basketball at GCCC from 1984 to 1986, before transferring to Indiana and leading the Hoosiers to the title. While at GCCC, he won the Jayhawk Conference Player of the Year award as one of the best players to ever don a Broncbusters jersey.
That’s why Smart is one of 15 GCCC alumni now prominently featured on the lobby wall, built as part of a larger $565,654 renovation of the DPAC.
“I had the vision in my head of who I wanted up there, who we thought should be up there and how to kind of lay them out,” said GCCC assistant athletic director Colin Lamb, who was the interim athletic director at the time of renovation and mural’s debut. “Keith Smart, that one to me was a no-brainer, as far as the front of our basketball facility. I wanted that one to stand out, and to let people know that was somebody who came here and hit the national title-winning shot for Indiana.”
Other former athletes featured include: Nick Marshall, Shelley Meier, Casey Colletti, Corey Dillon, Cort Scheer, Gene Keady, Tamara Jones, George Ackles, Todd Tichenor, Darvis ‘Doc’ Patton, Dayton Moore, Darrin Hancock and Jennifer Salmans Gomez.
“I wanted to have some Broncbuster history on the wall, of our student-athletes who made it to the top of their profession, or who represetned our college at the highest level,” Lamb said. “That was kind of the start of it. I wanted to get a wide representation of our student-athletes. I wanted recruits, students, parents, fans and everyone to know that these student-athletes attended Garden City Community College.”
The renovation was the first major remodel done to the lobby since its opening in 1969. It included the complete restructuring of the bathrooms — which was the bulk of the expenditure, paid for by GCCC’s Capital Outlay Fund — relocating them to the west side of the lobby and complying with the Americans with Disabilities Act (2010).
“It was due for an update, with brighter lights, and we wanted to do that with the bathrooms, making it ADA compliant,” Lamb said. “Just an overall new look, to make it look bigger and brighter.”
But nothing seems bigger than the formidable presence of Smart on the left of the mural, opposite the mountainous figure of Phil Loadholt, current NFL offensive lineman and former GCCC All-American, who went on to star at Oklahoma.
Loadholt is fondly remembered for his infectious personality and generosity with his time during his stint at GCCC, from 2004 to 2006.
Loadholt’s big frame — all 6-feet-8 inches and 345 pounds — looms over the right side of the mural, bookending the rest of the GCCC legends.
“Being Big Phil, I wanted it close to life-size of him,” Lamb said.
That was the direction he gave to Tiffany Heit, a graphic designer at GCCC.
Heit took Lamb’s vision, and a list of former athletes, and combed photo archives, contacted some of the former players for photos, laid it out and made the centerpiece of the lobby a reality.
“Initial design was probably about two days, and then working back and forth with the (production) company, it was two months,” Heit said.
When it finally debuted, Lamb was happy with the end result.
“It gives you a Division I look, a bigger school look,” Lamb said. “It makes you feel some pride that this is what Garden City has to offer. We’re always looking to get bigger and better.”
Lamb said in late January that he would like to see the entire DPAC have murals in every hallway, featuring athletes from across the college’s history.
“I want somebody to come in and say, ‘Wow, they went here? They (GCCC) do have a history. They do have a tradition,’” Lamb said. “Look at where Garden City Community College can take you.”
Tamara Jones (2011-13): NJCAA women’s basketball All-American, GCCC’s all-time leading scorer, the 2012-13 Jayhawk Conference West Player of the Year, transferred to Southern Mississippi, where former Lady Busters coach Alaura Sharp now serves as an assistant coach.
Nick Marshall (2011-12): NJCAA football All-American at quarterback, transferred to Auburn University, named to the Heisman Trophy watch list, currently on the Jacksonvile Jaguars NFL roster.
Cort Scheer (2005-07): Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association saddle bronc rider; Four-time College National Finals Rodeo qualifier, Reached the top 15 in PRCA world standings in 2010.
Phil Loadholt (2004-06): NJCAA football All-American, transferred to the University of Oklahoma; NFL All-Rookie Team in 2009, currently an offensive tackle on the Minnesota Vikings.
Casey Colletti (2004-06): Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association bareback rider, Three-time Wrangler National Finals Rodeo qualifier.
Darvis ‘Doc’ Patton (1997-99): Two-time U.S. Champion in the 200-meter dash; Three-time Olympian; Two-time Olympic silver medalist (2004, 2012).
Jennifer Salmans Gomez (1996-98): NJCAA volleyball All-American; NJCAA Academic All-American; head volleyball coach at Colorado State University-Pueblo.
Todd Tichenor (1995-97): Now a five-year Major League Baseball umpire, after a 12-year stint as an umpire in the minors; has umpired an All-Star Game and postseason playoff games the last two seasons.
Corey Dillon (1994-95): NJCAA football All-American, transferred to the University of Washington; drafted by the Cincinnati Bengals in 1997; Four-time NFL Pro-Bowler, Super Bowl Champion with New England Patriots in 2004.
Darrin Hancock (1990-92): NJCAA men’s basketball All-American; transferred to the University of Kansas; selected by the Charlotte Hornets in the 1994 NBA draft.
Shelley Meier (1990-92): Competed in both rodeo and women’s basketball at GCCC; 1992 Central Plains Regional All-Around Rodeo Champion; 1993 College National All-Around Champion at Southwestern Oklahoma State University.
George Ackles (1986-88): Part of the UNLV Final Four team in 1990-91 after his two-year span at GCCC; Selected in the 1991 NBA Draft by the Miami Heat; Played 11 years in professional leagues across the globe.
Dayton Moore (1985-87): Played baseball at GCCC; now the general manager of the Kansas City Royals; led the Royals to the 2015 World Series title.
Keith Smart (1984-84): KJCCC Player of the Year; transferred to the University of Indiana; made the game-winning shot in the 1987 NCAA Championship; now an NBA coach.
Gene Keady (1955-56): Four-sport athlete at GCCC; an All-American quarterback, three sport letter-winner at Kansas State in football, baseball and track; had a 512-270 record as a head basketball coach at the NCAA level; coached at Hutchinson Community College and at Purdue University.