The Soloist: The Greatest Conference Tournament Performance Ever

"It was the finest three days of individual basketball that I've ever seen. It's the kind of performance you hope to witness. I've spoken to people who have seen every ACC tournament (42 years at the time), and they've said the same thing."  These are the words of former Wake Forest head coach Jeff Odom, who was describing the performance of Deacons legend Randolph Childress.  During the three days of 1995 ACC Tournament, Childress was more than just a basketball player, he was an artist who skillfully painted his masterpiece in succession.

So what did Randolph do?  The fuse was lit on Day One of the tournament with 8:40 remaining in the first half as ninth seeded Duke was leading Wake Forest 31-13.  Childress scored 20 of his team’s next 33 points to take a 46-45 lead into halftime.  He would continue his scoring barrage posting 40 sending the Deacs into a semifinal matchup against #11 ranked Virginia.

While suffering a dislocation on the pinky of his shooting hand, it seemed as if Virginia may have had Wake Forest’s number building a 10-point lead right before the break.  However it was Childress who decided to make the Cavaliers share in his pain.  Coupled with a very talented sophomore sidekick, one Tim Duncan, certainly helped matters as he added 20 points, 14 rebounds and six blocks.  But the spotlight shined brightest on Childress who finished with 30 points and seven assists.  The 77-68 victory propelled Wake into the tournament final against second seeded North Carolina.

Playing against a loaded Carolina squad featuring Jerry Stackhouse and Rasheed Wallace did not phase Childress whose gunslinger persona carried over from the previous two days.  The senior scored 37 points, including 17 of the final 19 which featured one of the most memorable crossovers in college basketball history.  Randolph’s ankle creaking crossover on Tar Heel point guard Jeff McInnis was wicked, but it was the gesture of telling him to get up right before draining a three that added the exclamation point.


To add to the lore of his greatness, Childress capped off his incredible run with the game-winning jumper to capture the ACC Tournament crown.


So let's recap. That's 107 points (35.7 average along with 7 assists per), highlighted by 23 3-pointers (both tournament records), a career-high 40 point game, two comeback wins from double-digits, a highlight for the ages, and a game-winning jumper to win the championship…all while playing with a dislocated finger. Who has ever had a better run than this? On a personal note, this will always register to me as one of the greatest feats that I have witnessed. I was in the Greensboro Coliseum on those three days and remember how in awe every fan in the building was of what Childress did. In a year where eight players from the ACC went in the first round of the NBA Draft (including the three of the first four picks), no one could come close to holding a candle to the 6-2 guard out of Wake Forest.  


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