It seems so rare these days for a major conference team to have not only one, but two seniors that were four-year players at one institution. Maybe it's not truly as rare as it seems. Michigan State, Purdue, Iowa, Nebraska, and Penn State will all be celebrating at least two four-year players this week during Senior Nights. But in the current state of major college basketball, many players are using the game as some sort of minor league system. Others will transfer every other year. They'll celebrate Senior Day having spent less than a calendar year at a school.
Northwestern will be honoring Joey Van Zegeren this coming Sunday. He's one of those that would fit under the category of having spent less than a calendar year at his final institution. He spent four years at Virginia Tech before looking for a new home to spend his final year of eligibility. But the Wildcats will also be celebrating Tre Demps and Alex Olah.
Only two people can currently claim to have played in more games in a Northwestern uniform than Demps and soon that will just be one: Drew Crawford. He currently sits at 11th on the all-time scoring list in school history. He's 8th in three-point field goals made. Every year that he's been a Wildcat, his offensive rating on the floor has been markedly better than the year before.
Additionally, Demps was an honorable mention All-Big Ten player last season and will be a part of the discussion once again this year. He's grown up off the court as well, earning his bachelor's degree last summer the same month that he got married.
Olah's story at Northwestern isn't all that different. He was also honorable mention when the conference awards were handed out a season ago. He'd be right up there near Demps in games played if not for a foot injury earlier this season that forced him to sit for six contests. It took an additional six just for him to look like the player he was in late December again.
There's no way to truly know how this season would have gone differently for the Wildcats if Olah was healthy, but they were just 5-7 when he was out and 13-4 when the big man was full strength. The big Romanian will go down as a 1,000 point scorer and the all-time leading shot blocker. He didn't just break the blocks record, but rather he shattered it. He sits at 179 career blocks with a few games to play in his career and No. 2 on the list - John Shurna - had 136.
Demps and Olah are two guys that are hard not to love for college basketball purists. They spent their entire career in one place, they went to class and received a true education, and they got better on the court each season. Neither of them will garner much attention in the national postseason awards. You won't see them in any green room this summer. They'll just walk away with their degrees, a special place in the heart of Wildcat fans, and a hope that they can continue playing the game wherever they'll be had.