USM's Mims deserves some respect
Jan. 20, 2002
Sorting through Sunday's sports news while wondering if that was Superman I saw at Reed Green Coliseum on Friday night, or can Elvin Mims really fly?
HATTIESBURG When talk of the best college basketball player in Mississippi is bandied about, most of the conversation centers around names such as Mario Austin and Marckell Patterson of Mississippi State and Justin Reed and David Sanders of Ole Miss.
There is another name that most certainly is worthy of a little jaw-flapping as well. That name is Elvin Mims of the University of Southern Mississippi.
Most eyes were focused on the University of Memphis' Dajuan Wagner on Friday night, as the Tigers and the Golden Eagles of USM played on ESPN. And, quite frankly, Wagner deserved the focus.
After a slow start, the freshman from Camden, N.J., put on a show worth watching as he pushed Memphis to the 73-64 win over USM with a 28-point effort.
But he didn't even score the most points in the game. That honor went to Mims, who not only scored 29 points, but lead his team with nine rebounds, and also had two steals and blocked two shots.
There may be a lot of reasons very few people know about the incredible talent of Mims.
One may be that he plays at USM, where a crowd of just over 4,000 fans seems to excite people.
Another may be that at 6-foot-5, he is undersized against some of the giants he has to work against.
But the things the Century, Fla., native can do with the basketball makes up for his lack of size. And besides that, he can flat jump out of the gym.
Mims is certainly not the first Golden Eagle to have to play at a size disadvantage. Do the names Joe Dawson, John Prince and Clarence Weatherspoon ring a bell?
Those are three legendary names in University of Southern Mississippi basketball. All three were outstanding talents, who were also a little undersized.
Dawson and Weatherspoon, who were surely a couple inches shorter than the press guides always claimed, had to make their living toiling in the paint, while Prince was a classic swing man, playing both inside and out.
While Weatherspoon has pulled down a few paychecks in the NBA over the past few years, the rest do other things for a living these days.
There is no doubt that Mims can do some quality work down low, as evidenced by an incredible flying alley-oop dunk and a couple of nice spin moves in the paint.
But he may be his most dangerous from long range.
He hit on four-of-nine three pointers against Memphis, and at least three of those five misses went into the hole and spun out.
He went into the Memphis game averaging 18.4 points a game and with his effort on Friday, has now led USM in scoring eight of the Golden Eagles 15 games, and he didn't even play in two of them. He has also led USM in rebounding six times this seasons, in steals six times and in blocked shots five times.
In short, the guy can play.
He is also an aggressive defender, that finds himself working against a strong inside player on defense, while operating against quicker defender on offense.
Nothing comes easy for Mims.
When you are the star of a good team, sometimes things just come your way a little easier. When you are the big gun and even sometimes the only gun of a struggling team, then you are certainly a marked man.
Consider Mims marked.
He didn't start the game on Friday because he is still trying to work his way back into USM coach James Green's good graces following a violation of team rules a couple weeks ago, but once he hit the floor, he stayed in for the next 38 minutes.
The fact his team needs him so much, probably hurts his scoring punch a little.
He was visibly fatigued over the last 12 minutes of the game. And, as a player who leaps so well and depends on the spring in his legs to propel that beautiful shot he owns, being tired does not help. Not at all.
But, such is the lot in life for Elvin Mims.
The Golden Eagles need him these days, no matter how tired he gets.
So he just keeps on going out there and getting the job done, whether the rest of the state notices him or not.