Eric Maynor can no longer lay claim to Virginia Commonwealth's most magical March Madness moment.
And he couldn't be happier.
Even though the Thunder guard will always be remembered in VCU lore for his buzzer-beater that upset mighty Duke four years ago, the Rams now have an NCAA Tournament highlight that is grander. They beat Kansas in the regional final. They showed all those doubters that they belong.
Now, they are going to the Final Four.
Maynor beamed Sunday evening as he talked about his alma mater's win.
“I watched the whole thing before I came to the arena,” he said. “Excited for them.”
The players who knocked off the 'Hawks and shocked the college basketball world aren't just some random guys to Maynor. Jamie Skeen, the Rams' swingman who blitzed the Jayhawks for 26 points, was sitting out the year after transferring from Wake Forest during Maynor's last season at VCU. Joey Rodriguez, the Rams' gutty point guard who just kept attacking the Jayhawks, was a starter alongside Maynor for two years.
Then this past offseason, Maynor spent a majority of the time in Richmond. He worked out with the team. He hung with the team.
These guys are his buddies.
“I talk with them all the time,” he said sitting inside the locker room before Sunday night's game. “I'm just talking to one of them right now.”
He raised the cell phone in his hand.
“They're so happy.”
So is Maynor.
He plans to have some fun with VCU's success. Maynor, after all, has found himself on the receiving end of some serious ribbing from his Thunder teammates these past couple weeks.
First, they told him that VCU had no place in the NCAA Tournament.
Then, the Kansas alums told him that the VCU run would end against their guys.
“They're upset with me,” Maynor said, a playful smile on his face as he glanced across the locker room at Nick Collison and Cole Aldrich. “I said something when I first seen 'em.”
So, will that be it?
“We need to get this win today,” he said, “then after that I'll start back talkin'.”
Maynor plans to let everyone know about his team's success.
“Oh, yeah, I'm gonna keep talkin',” he said. “We got a whole week before we play another game.”
He smiled again.
“I'm gonna talk a lot.”
Sure, he loves a little give-and-take with his teammates, but really, it's more than that.
Maynor feels a part of what happened Sunday.
“One of my old teammates tweeted that we didn't ever make it that far, but we're gonna be on that court with 'em,” Maynor said. “That's how I feel.”
He helped lay the groundwork for this Final Four run. He set a high standard. He instilled a mentality.
“Just work hard all the time, and if you put your mind to something, you can do it,” he said. “You've just got to try to do it together, and that's what they're doing.”
Seeing the Rams play that same way today makes him insanely proud.
That shot Maynor hit to knock out Duke was VCU's first tournament win in more than two decades. Only a few years later, the Rams are going to the Final Four.
Knowing he had a hand in this success eases his fall to No. 2 in VCU tournament lore.