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Mike Lopresti | | December 26, 2022

Some of the best names in men's college basketball this season, and the stories behind them

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Now playing guard for your North Carolina A&T Aggies... Love Bettis. An explanation might be in order, as it is for many of the unusual college basketball names this season that we'll get to in a minute.

Rhythm and blues artist Musiq Soulchild produced a hit back in 2000 that was a tribute to the beauty of love. Came up with a catchy name for it, too. Love. Ross Bettis thought it was one swell song and so when his new son came along... world, meet Love Justen Bettis.

“A lot of people in the beginning don’t believe it’s my name,” the sophomore from Pensacola, Florida said of the word that is used around the planet, but seldom on a birth certificate. “They think it’s a nickname. But it’s my name.”

So how does Love take to being named Love? He, uh, loves it. Even if opposing student sections back in high school were known to have a high time chanting the word.

North Carolina A&T's Love BettisNorth Carolina A&T's Love Bettis

“I’m going to name my son the same thing and I hope he names his son the same thing and we can keep it going and make it a family name.”

Bettis, who comes off the bench to average five points a game for North Carolina A&T, almost had two unusual names.

“My mom told me my dad tried to name my middle name Justice, but she told him that was too much, so it's Justen. I think that would have been a little too much. I’m cool with Love.”

He likes the song, too.

“But I probably don’t like it as much as my dad likes it.”

How to begin with a list of other odd names in college basketball? Where else but...

Oddyst Walker of Alcorn State.

Alcorn State's Oddyst WalkerAlcorn State's Oddyst Walker

It seems his mom once knew a doctor she admired who was named Otis. When she gave birth to her son, she was hoping he’d also grow up to be a doctor one day and wanted to pay homage to Otis but also make it a little more original. Hence, Oddyst.

Speaking of doctors, New Mexico State has reserve forward Doctor Bradley. As a fan on an Aggies website mentioned when Bradley announced he was attending New Mexico State, if he goes on to earn an advanced degree, one day they can call him Doctor Doctor.

Robert Schuler is an Ohio lawyer and one of his favorite books is To Kill a Mockingbird, with its famous main character, attorney Atticus Finch. Which is why Dayton now has a freshman forward named Atticus Schuler, though technically he’s James.

“He always wanted to name one of his kids Atticus,” the son said of his father. “My mom was on the fence, but she agreed to let my middle name be Atticus. I have gone by Atticus since the day I was born.”

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There is Central Arkansas’ sophomore center Churchill Bounds, the name coming from a grandfather, not the Kentucky Derby or the British prime minister.

Central Arkansas' Churchill BoundsCentral Arkansas' Churchill Bounds

Drexel has Coletrane Washington, whose parents were big fans of jazz legend John Coltrane. The only difference is their son has an extra e and plays basketball in college, not the saxophone.

Merrimack has Ziggy Reid. Not many Ziggys on the court, but maybe you'd prefer his real first name: Siegfried.

The Atlantic 10 not only has Saint Louis and Saint Joseph’s and St. Bonaventure, but Loyola forward Saint Thomas.

For a name most likely to stump contestants in a spelling bee, there is Canisius guard Xzavier Long. For regular horoscope readers, Minnesota guard Taurus Samuels. Just this past Monday night, Fairfield was led in points by Supreme Cook, while one of Kent State’s top scorers was Sincere Carry. The second leading scorer for Miami last Saturday was Wooga Poplar.

Wooga? That came from an aunt but he doesn’t exactly know why. For official name purposes, it’s Nisine Hanir Poplar.

Next, there’s the Drake forward, OK? No, really, it’s Okay, as in Okay Djamgouz. That comes from his Turkish grandfather.

There’s Tyger Campbell at UCLA, because his parents were watching Tiger Woods win the Mercedes golf tournament when he was born. No word on what he might have been had they been watching, say, Finding Nemo. Then again, Tarleton State’s Tiger Booker comes not from the PGA but the color of his eyes as a baby, when they went from blue to greenish to hazel. The nickname stuck because of the mentality he had to have playing against his older brother and his friends.

Tucson Redding plays for Morehead State and is a native of... Arizona? Wrong. Colorado. But his father spent much of his early life in Tucson, grew attached to the area, so when his son came along, the choice was Tucson. Just as well, Adrian Redding didn’t live up the road in Tortolita.

Just like it’s probably a good thing Morgan State is not in Kansas, because imagine the things Toto Fagbenle would hear.

The award for highest Roman numeral in college basketball goes to VCU walk-on guard Arnold Henderson VI. Does he have family stories to tell.

VCU's Arnold Henderson VIVCU's Arnold Henderson VI

Arnold IV was a sprinter who raced in the Olympic trials and also was a principal at Arthur Ashe’s high school. Arnold III owned a farm in Mississippi that is still in the family. Arnold V is a lawyer who was co-counsel for the first Federal Court multiple-defendant death penalty case in the nation’s history. Arnold I had a farm near the pivotal Civil War battle of Vicksburg.

So here’s Arnold VI the guard, whose nickname is, yep, Six. A bag of silver dollars has been passed down through the generations to each Arnold, and Six hopes to present it one day to his son. Who will certainly be named Arnold VII.

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North Carolina has become a dynasty of unique names. Seventh Woods doesn’t play for the Tar Heels, anymore, but Leaky Black, Puff Johnson and Creighton Lebo do.

But the team atop this year’s unique list is the Kansas City Roos, which seems appropriate enough for the only Division I team whose nickname comes from an Australian marsupial. It’s these freshmen Idiaru twins. They were just on the phone, and let's begin with the one who answered the call.

“I’m Precious. Promise is here, too.”

Yes, getting rotation time in the Kansas City frontcourt are Precious C. and Promise C. Idiaru. It’s not every day you come across a 6-9 forward named Precious.

Kansas City's Promise C. Idiaru (second from the left) and Precious C. Idiaru (first from the right) react on the benchKansas City's Promise C. Idiaru (second from the left) and Precious C. Idiaru (first from the right) react on the bench, along with other Kansas City players

“Both of our parents are pretty Christian and they wanted our names to have meaning,” he was saying. “We have a little sister called Peace.”

Imagine the expressions when they have to give someone their names.

“Sometimes,” Precious said, “we have to pull out an ID (for others) to make sure it’s real.”

They are the sons of Nigerian-born Frank and Joan and were born in Germany. Precious and Promise can be a little hard for new acquaintances to grasp, including for other college kids.

“Even now, some of our teammates get us confused,” said Promise, who beat Precious into the world by three minutes. “They just call us Twin. Whenever one of them calls us Twin, we both turn at this point. We don’t expect them to know who’s who. We know how hard it is.

“In middle school I didn’t understand how unique my name was. I thought everybody has their special name. I didn’t know mine was very, very different. It can be very frustrating at a young age because you don’t understand your name is different than other people’s names.”

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But they quickly learned to cherish what their parents gave them.

“We love it,” Precious said. “We think it’s kind of special. Us being twins makes it even more special.”

Now about that C. as used as their middle initial. “That’s our Nigerian names,” Precious said. “It’s pretty hard to pronounce.”

Hard? It’s Precious Chuckweubucke Idiaru. And Promise Chukwumenime Idiaru.

Precious C. and Promise C. will do just fine.

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