Giving Voice to Hoops: Lead Singer Role Switches From Sherrod to Brown
In 2015-16, Yale's Brandon Sherrod, setting himself apart from anyone who ever played major-college basketball, established an NCAA Division I record by making 30 consecutive field-goal attempts covering five mid-season games. Singing his praises in helping the Bulldogs participate in the NCAA playoffs for the first time since 1962, Sherrod returned to them after taking a year off from school to tour the world as one of only 14 singers with Yale's a cappella group - the Whiffenpoofs.
Sherrod relinquished college basketball's lead-singer role this season to Wisconsin starting forward Vitto Brown, who participated with quartet singing the Star-Spangled Banner at the 2015 Final Four when the Badgers finished national runner-up to Duke.
Brown and Sherrod aren't the only talented singers who also made music as a college basketball player. Acclaimed jazz vocalist Al Jarreau, who passed away shortly before this year's Grammy Awards, is among the following crooners who didn't whiff in the music industry:
ISHMAEL BUTLER, Massachusetts
Known as Butterfly with the hip-hop group Digable Planets, which was nominated for a 1994 Grammy Award as the "Best New Artist."
JOHN FRED GOURRIER, Southeastern Louisiana
Lead vocalist and harmonica player for the rock-and-roll group John Fred and the Playboy Band boasting a hit single "Judy in Disguise" in 1967 and 1968.
The 6-5, 185-pound forward averaged eight points per game for Southeastern Louisiana as a junior in 1962-63 before scoring 248 points as a senior. The Baton Rouge native also played two seasons for SLU's baseball team and still shares the school single-game record for most RBI with eight.
VAUGHN HARPER, Syracuse
New York City disc jockey, the host with the mellow voice on "The Quiet Storm," for more than a quarter century in the New York City area.
One of the Orange's all-time leaders in rebounds per game (11.1). Harper also averaged 13.5 ppg from 1965-66 through 1967-68, leading Syracuse in scoring as a senior (15.8 ppg). Teammate of All-American Dave Bing and all-time winningest coach Jim Boeheim grabbed team-high 10 rebounds in 91-81 loss to Duke in 1966 East Regional final. Ninth-round selection in the 1968 NBA draft by the Detroit Pistons.
AL JARREAU, Ripon (Wis.)
Innovative musical expressions made him one of the most exciting and critically-acclaimed performers of our time, winning five Grammys, including best jazz vocalist in 1978 and 1979. He began singing at the age of four, and was soon harmonizing with his brothers and performing solo at a variety of local events in his hometown of Milwaukee. Following an extended stint in Los Angeles, he was spotted by Warner Brothers Records talent scouts and signed to a recording contract in 1975. Two years later, Jarreau embarked on his first world tour. While on a break from touring in 1996, he accepted a three-month stint on Broadway playing the role of the Teen Angel in the hit musical Grease!
Member of Ripon's basketball team from 1958-59 through 1961-62 posted career highs of 5.9 ppg and 4.3 rpg as a sophomore. While attending college, he performed locally with a group called The Indigos on weekends and holidays before graduating with a B.S. in Psychology.
MARK MILLER, Central Florida
Front man and principal songwriter for Sawyer Brown, one of the nation's most popular and enduring country music bands. Sawyer Brown, the top grossing country group in 1994, has sold more than 11 million records since getting a jump start in 1984 on Ed McMahon's Star Search and was named the Top Vocal Group in 1997 by the Academy of Country Music. Sawyer Brown's "Six Days on the Road" video, which came out in early 2000, emphasized the baldheaded Miller's shooting ability.
The 5-8 guard was scoreless in a total of 13 minutes in seven games for Central Florida in 1978-79. He had one assist and committed three turnovers. "I play whenever I can," Miller said. "I go at it really hard. I think my greatest strength in basketball is just seeing the floor and having a feel for where everything should go. And maybe that's my strength in music, too."
Miller, who majored in physical education, joined UCF the year after it went to the Final Four in Division II, and coach Torchy Clark was a local legend. "He (Torchy) wanted you to play hard, but he also wanted you to be a good person," Miller said. "If it came between winning and being a good person, he would rather you be a good person. He helped me as a player, and the lessons I learned from him have helped me in my career. Late at night while on tour, I still call him."
PERCY ROMEO MILLER JR., Southern California
Rapper/actor, son of entertainment mogul and entrepreneur Master P, has released multiple studio albums and compilation albums. His debut album titled after his original alias Lil' Romeo contained the hit single "My Baby" that charted #1 on the Hot R&B/Hip-hop Singles.
Signed with the Trojans at same time as friend Demar DeRozan, who left for the NBA after only one season. Romeo, a 5-9 point guard, played 19 minutes in nine games in 2008-09 and 2009-10, scoring a total of five points.
DAVID PALACIO, Texas Western
Executive vice president of EMI Latin, which is affiliated with Capitol Records in Hollywood, Calif.
Backup guard for Texas Western's 1966 NCAA championship team scored a season-high four points against Loyola (La.). Contributed a second-half field goal when the Miners erased a 16-point halftime deficit to win in overtime at New Mexico, 67-64. In their next outing, he chipped in with another basket in a 69-67 triumph over Arizona State. Palacio averaged 7.9 points and 3.5 rebounds per game the next season as a junior.
KENNY PARKER, St. Peter's
Brother of one of the most influential rap and hip-hop artists of the 1980s and early 1990s - KRS-ONE (born Kris Parker). Kenny, who performed as a DJ alongside his brother and in music videos as part of the hard-core hip-hop outfit Boogie Down Productions, was a producer for BDP recordings. He has produced TV commercials for Nike.
DARRYL SHEPHERD, Pittsburgh
Produced two No. 1 hits on the R&B charts. An accomplished keyboard player, he also has worked on movie soundtracks and for numerous artists (including Smokey Robinson).
Participated in the NIT and NCAA playoffs in the mid-1980s with the Panthers. His wife, attorney Renee Henderson, was a former Pitt sprinter who won the 60- and 200-meter dashes in France at the 2008 World Masters Indoor Track and Field Championships (setting two American Records en route to winning gold).