Greatest performances in Oakland basketball history

Photo courtesy of Tim Fuller, USA Today Sports

Over the years, Oakland fans have been lucky to witness some incredibly talented individual players come through the O’rena. The style of play deployed by Coach Greg Kampe, combined with some incredible work ethics and talents have resulted in a streak of 18 straight years with a player on the all-league first team, something only Gonzaga can say. 

Furthermore, a reflection of this talent comes in the form of a stat posted by Oakland message boards user “blackandgold”. Since 2010, Oakland has had a player score 30 points 88 different times. This is 20 more than the next closest school.

All of the above has inspired the following list, the greatest performances in Oakland history. Basketball Reference box scores for Oakland only go back to the 2004-2005 season, so we will call the official list the greatest performances in the last 20 years. This includes most of the D1 era (sorry Mike Helms), but leaves out the D2 days.

Without further ado, the greatest performances in Oakland history,

Top 25 Honorable Mentions (in no order):

Zion Young vs Detroit, 1-22-2021:

Probably forgotten by many, but 9-9 from three for 28 points in a Metro Series win deserves a mention. Imagine the energy with a crowd…

Brad Brechting vs Cleveland State, 2-2-2019:

The big man posted 32 points and 5 rebounds on 14-15 shooting en route to a win. It was a sight to behold in person.

Xavier Hill-Mais at UNLV,  11-16-2018:

X has posted higher stat totals, and this isn’t his last appearance on the list, but this performance could not be ignored. Leaving the game at least 4 times due to a broken nose that would not stop bleeding, he put up 29 points, 6 rebounds and 2 steals in only 22(!) minutes. Not only could this have been a career night for Hill-Mais, but a healthy nose could have changed the outcome from a loss to a win.

Erik Kangas at Purdue Fort Wayne, 1-17-2009:

39 points and 4 assists in a road conference 5 point win. Kangas nailed 8 of his 13 threes to post his career high point total.

Trey Townsend at Xavier, 11-27-2023:

Spoiler: This isn’t Trey’s best performance, but it was pretty darn good. 28 points, 6 rebounds and a career high 7 assists to lead his team a two point win over a Big East school makes for a game to remember.

Keith Benson at Tennessee, 12-14-2010:

Maybe the best player in school history had one of his best games in one of the programs biggest wins. At number 7th ranked Tennessee, Benson put up 26 points and 10 boards to put away a top 10 opponent. 2 blocked shots do not account for how many he altered at the rim either. Beast mode night for Keito.

Rashad Williams at Oklahoma State, 12-5-2020:

Williams made 10 of his 20 three point baskets, leading him to 32 points, 3 boards and 2 steals. He went toe-to-toe with future number one overall pick Cade Cunningham in his gym, before the Golden Grizzlies fell just short on the scoreboard.

Rashad Williams at Michigan State, 12-13-2020:

If this was a two game performance list, Williams would not be in the honorable mention section. Williams followed up his 32 point outburst with 36 points and 4 steals at the top five ranked Spartans. His total through these two games was 18-37 from three. Two losses, but a legendary run.

Kendrick Nunn vs Purdue Fort Wayne, 11-1-2017:

The hype around Kendrick Nunn and this version of the Golden Grizzlies was palpable, with the team receiving preseason votes in the national top 25 polls. This performance by Nunn brought those levels to a fever pitch. With future NBAer John Konchar on the other side, Nunn poured in 36 points, 6 boards, 6 assists and 3 steals. He had arrived.

Jonathan Jones at Oregon, 11-17-2008:

Perhaps an underrated game in Oakland lore. The Golden Grizzlies won an overtime battle in Eugene against the Ducks, and JJ was at the forefront. The point guard scored 32 points and played all 45 minutes of the game. The 5’11 Jones grabbed 7 rebounds in a power conference gym as well. 

Jamal Cain at Green Bay, 1-22-2022:

Cain was an absolute force his whole senior year for Oakland, and this performance is the perfect encapsulation. Jamal scored 26 points and grabbed 21 rebounds on the road, while making all 14 of his free throws. A pro performance from the Horizon League POTY.

Reggie Hamilton vs Tennessee, 11-28-2011:

It is hard to choose between Hamilton’s great performances, but 35 and 6 to beat the SEC Vols is a pretty good way to go. Certified bucket.

Martez Walker vs Georgia, 12-23-2016:

Martez led this championship team in scoring, and on this day he was a force. He led the Golden Grizzlies back from an early 15 point deficit to knock off the Dawgs, scoring 30 points. He made 4 of his 6 threes and grabbed 5 offensive rebounds on the SEC opponent. 

Jamal Cain vs Toledo, 11-17-2021:

Fresh off a win at Oklahoma State, Oakland returned home for the first time. Jamal Cain quickly introduced himself. Facing off against metro Detroit native Ryan Rollins, who would get selected in the NBA Draft, Cain posted 29 points and 17 rebounds to lead Oakland to a drubbing of the MAC champions. Pure dominance.

Jalen Moore vs Detroit, 1-22-2021:

Helped by Zion Young’s 9-9 from three, JMO became the second Oakland player to ever record a triple double. 18 points, 14 assists and 11 rebounds helped Oakland record a win over their rival.

Kay Felder vs ETSU, 3-29-2016:

Who was the first to record a triple double? That would be Kay Felder. This 29/10/10 outburst in the Vegas 16 tournament was his second triple double.

Kay Felder vs Detroit, 2-14-2014:

His first came as a Freshman in the first Metro Series game in O’rena history. 15 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds was the first triple double in program history. He also played all 45 minutes in an 83-82 overtime win. There is a reason this guy was an All-American.

Kendrick Nunn vs Michigan State, 12-16-2017:

The morning of this game, it was reported that Nunn would most likely miss the contest with a foot injury.. By gametime, Nunn was ready to play a role off the bench, and he entered 2 minutes into the game. 32 points, 7 rebounds, 38 minutes, a poster dunk over top five pick Jaren Jackson Jr, and an ankle breaker three against MSU guard Josh Langford later, Nunn finds himself on this list despite a tough loss.

Rawle Marshall vs Alabama A&M, 3-15-2005:

In the first NCAA Tournament game in the schools short D1 history, Rawle Marshall continued the Cinderella run he led the Golden Grizzlies on with 29 points and 9 rebounds. His Poster Dunk is the best ever in the program, and it all amounted to Oakland’s first NCAA Tournament win. Rawle just missed the top 10. 

Jamal Cain vs Detroit, 2-13-2022:

Cain deserves to be in the top 10 of this list, but didn’t quite make it. This performance was close, leading Oakland to a win over their biggest rival. Down early, Cain caught an alley-oop that brought the building to life, and he didn’t look back. He posted a career high 32 points, 12 boards and 3 steals on a bum ankle.

Jalen Moore at Detroit, 1-23-2023:

Moore went on a scoring rampage to end his Golden Grizzly career,and this one saw do it all. 32 points, 7 assists, 5 rebounds and 3 steals brought yet another Metro Series win home, and put Moore’s name in rivalry history.

Reggie Hamilton at Valparaiso, 12-17-2011:

Reggie, like Cain, deserved to have a place in the top 10, but just barely missed. This one included a career high 41 points on the road to beat the future Horizon League champs. He also added 4 rebounds, 3 assists and 4 steals. An all-time game for an all-time Oakland great.

Rashad Williams at Detroit, 1-31-2020:

For a guy who never made an all-league team, Rashad had some absolutely electrifying performances. This one was his fifth game eligible as a Golden Grizzly, and it served as quite the introduction. 37 points and 7 threes led to a Williams takeover of Calihan Hall. He also added 3 boards, 2 assists and 2 steals in the win.

Kendrick Nunn vs Milwaukee, 2-24-2018:

Senior day is a magical time at Oakland, and this one was special. Kendrick Nunn in his final home game dropped 37 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assist and 3 steals to dispatch Milwaukee. He carried a largely injured roster to a huge win on this day. 

Kay Felder vs Detroit, 2-26-2016:

Full disclosure, this is number 11. Kay Felder could have his own top 10 list, and he will still be well represented in the overall top 10. In maybe the best atmosphere ever seen in the O’rena, Kay continued his All-American campaign, finishing off his home career with 26 points, 16 assitsts and 9 rebounds. Oakland scored a 108-97 win over rival Detroit. This highlight is too good not to put in. 

K. Felder dribbles around the back and then no look passes to J. Hayes for the dunk. – ESPN Video

With the help of current Oakland Men’s Basketball Video Coordinator Jack Kraemer, the top ten features clips and graphics of every player’s performance. Let’s get to it.

The Top 10:

(Click link for full highlights, vids and graphics courtesy of Oakland video coordinator Jack Kraemer)

10. Xavier Hill-Mais vs Green Bay, 2-23-2020:

If you didn’t believe in Senior day magic at Oakland, this list should change your mind. This performance by X can be put up against any of them. On his Senior day, after staying with the Golden Grizzlies for five years, Hill-Mais poured in 31 points and grabbed 13 rebounds. Down by two points with seconds remaining, Hill-Mais caught a Tray Maddox on an on purpose missed free throw and put it back in to tie the score. He then hit clutch buckets in the extra frames, including a three that gave Oakland the final separation in the 92-88 double overtime win. 

#10: Xavier Hill-Mais vs. Green Bay 

9. Trey Townsend vs North Carolina State, 3-23-2024:

When Jack Gohlke proclaimed that his team was not a Cinderella, it was in large part because of a player like Trey Townsend. This game is all the proof you need. In the Round of 32 of the NCAA Tournament, Trey put up 30 points and 13 rebounds while playing in all 45 minutes of the overtime loss. He did this against DJ Burns, Mo Diarra and Ben Middlebrooks, all guys who had a sizable height advantage on Trey. The Wolfpack advanced to the Final Four, but on that night Trey was as good as anyone on the floor, if not better. 

#9: Trey Townsend vs. NC State

8. Travis Bader vs Youngstown State, 3-4-2014:

Welcome to the list Travis Bader. The Oakland great left as the college basketball record holder for threes made in a career, so he had to find his way on eventually. In Oakland’s first ever Horizon League Tournament game, Bader announced his presence. He dropped 39 points, making 7 threes and sinking a school record 18 of his 18 free throws. His biggest free throws came when Oakland trailed by 2 with under a second remaining, and the ball 94 feet away. Bader took a “charge” on the defender guarding the inbounder, and drew the foul (1:57 mark), sending the game to overtime. Bader then closed out the Penguins in the extra frame to keep the Golden Grizzlies season alive.

#8: Travis Bader vs. Youngstown State

7. Keith Benson vs Oral Roberts, 3-8-2011:

In his last Summit League conference game, the two-time Summit League POTY left his mark on the conference. Benson was utterly dominant, scoring 28 points while grabbing 14 rebounds, dishing out 4 assists and blocking 3 shots. The big man was the best player back to back years on NCAA Tournament teams, so ranking this as his top performance is a testament to how good he was on this night. He was named Summit League Tournament MVP postgame.

#7: Keith Benson vs. Oral Roberts

6. Kay Felder at Washington, 12-19-2015:

38 points, 9 assists, 6 rebounds. That would be enough said, except this game at a Power Six opponent, against three first round NBA Draft picks in Dejounte Murray, Matisse Thybulle and Marquese Chriss. Oh yeah, and Oakland scored 97 points and won by 14. Oakland fans knew, but the national darling that was the 5’9 Kay Felder, in some ways, was born here. And wasn’t done yet.

#6: Kay Felder vs. Washington

5. Travis Bader vs IUPUI, 1-24-2013:

When you have the D1 school record for points and threes in the same game, it will find a way into all time rankings like this one. Bader is a program legend for games like this, scoring 47 points on 11-18 from beyond-the-arc. Oakland won 89-71 and Bader played all 40 minutes. An all time highlight in an all time career, take a bow Travis Bader.

#5: Travis Bader vs. IUPUI

4. Kay Felder vs Michigan State, 12-22-2015:

On December 22nd, 2015, America met Kay Felder. Coming off his virtuoso performance at Washington, Kay followed that up with a superman like effort. Against the number 1 ranked team in the country, Kay put up 37 points and 9 assists, and was the best player on the floor all night. His late stepback three and  two free throws sent the game to overtime, before he fouled out in the overtime session and watched his team drop a heartbreaker. In front of a national stage against America’s best, Felder officially put his name on the map.

#4: Kay Felder vs. Michigan State

3. Derrick Nelson vs IUPUI, 3-9-2010:

Derrick Nelson was a superstar in the making. When an injury ended his season in 2009, Oakland fell just short of the Summit League Tournament crown. With Nelson on the court in 2010, that would not be the case. Throughout that season, while still extremely effective, Nelson appeared a touch slower than his old self. But on this night, it was everyone else who appeared slow. Nelson made 15 of his 23 shots en route to 36 points and 9 rebounds in the Summit League Tournament championship game. He carried Oakland back to the NCAA Tournament as a Senior, and was named Summit League Tournament MVP.

#3: Derick Nelson vs. IUPUI

2. Jack Gohlke vs Kentucky, 3-21-2023:

I mean, c’mon. The national hero that became Jack Gohlke is one of the inspirations for this list.. Gohlke made 10 threes to knock the Wildcats out of the NCAA Tournament, and led Oakland to the Round of 32 for the first time ever. His 10 triples are the second highest ever total made in an NCAA Tournament game, and his 32 points sent John Calipari packing to Arkansas. Gohlke found himself featured on every platform, including One Shining Moment. It is a truly iconic performance that will stand the test of time and live on in Oakland, and college basketball lore.

#2: Jack Gohlke vs. Kentucky

1. Trey Townsend vs Milwaukee, 3-12-2024:

There is a reason the ‘Mr. Oakland’ nickname was given out. Trey led Oakland to its first ever Horizon League Championship with 38 points, 11 rebounds and 5 assists. He also played all 40 minutes. The list of D1 players to put up those numbers in a conference championship game is Trey and Kevin Durant. Trey also scored 19 of the team’s last 25 points, all in the last 8 minutes of the game. The Horizon League POTY was named Horizon League Tournament MVP as well, and etched his name among the Oakland greats. The kid who grew up in the O’rena, stands alone with the best performance in the program’s history.

#1: Trey Townsend vs. Milwaukee

(P.S. Apologies to Jalen Hayes)

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