Long before Steph Curry became a two-time NBA MVP, three-time champion, the walking evolution of modern-day hoops and the most popular player in the game, he was a scrawny overlooked, underrated baller who used March Madness to introduce his greatness to the world and earn the nickname “The Baby Faced Assassin”
At the launch of every season, prodigies get the hype, but March is when late bloomers swoop in to intercept the adulation.
Starting off in pole position is everyone’s goal in life, but it’s how you finish that matters.
Curry was born with the advantage of calling one of the NBA’s top marksman dad, but that didn’t buy him any cache on the recruiting trail in his teens. Curry was talented, but it was determined he lacked the size and athleticism of a major conference point guard.
Being a Virginia Tech legacy wasn’t enough for Hokies coach Seth Greenberg to offer a scholarship to Curry. Instead, the only olive branch Dell’s alma mater gave was a walk-on role.
There were no AAU legends trailing young Steph to Davidson. Steph’s aura grew from scratch during his freshman season when the lean guard debuted in what appeared to be a jersey two sizes too large for his slender frame and began effortlessly slithering to the hoop past helpless defenders. When they gave him a cushion beyond the arc, Curry proved he was the son of Dell.
Curry’s sophomore season didn’t skip a beat as he popped off 88 points in four games during the non-conference slate against No. 1 UNC, No. 7 Duke, NC State and UCLA, who would reach their third consecutive Final Four with Ben Howland.
But March Madness is when late bloomers spring into action. If there were any non-believers or Curry agnostics, they were converted during the 2008 NCAA Tournament.
Curry propelled Davidson past Goliaths like second-seeded Georgetown, who was one year separated from a Final Four berth and third-seeded Wisconsin before getting ousted by the eventual national champion Kansas Jayhawks in the Elite Eight.
Curry returned for one more season to develop physically at Davidson and burnish his credentials to NBA scouts, but the statement had been made. The undersized giant slayer had already established himself a colossal pain in the ass to guard on the hardwood.