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Know Your KU History: Sean Pearson

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The forgotten man.

Scott Indermaur/Getty Images

For some reason, I barely remember anything about Sean Pearson. The college basketball page of sports-reference.com appears to have forgotten about him as well. Why? It really makes no sense. Pearson had a reliable if not spectacular career, a steady as she goes kind of workman like career. Perhaps it was because he was surrounded by some of the greatest players to ever put on a Kansas jersey or perhaps it was because he never did anything spectacular- good or bad. Either way, it’s about time that Sean Pearson gets some recognition.

Rex Walters, Adonis Jordan, Greg Ostertag, Jacque Vaughn, Raef LaFrentz, Scot Pollard, Paul Pierce, Billy Thomas. These are just a few of the guys that Sean Pearson played alongside at the University of Kansas. It’s no wonder his name sometimes get lost in the mix. It would be difficult to find a player that played with such a vast array of talent (go ahead, commenters, give it your best shot) while still getting a decent amount of playing time (read: not a walk on). But that was Sean Pearson, Mr. Reliable when the spectacular was occurring around him.

The LaGrange, Illinois native came to the University of Kansas in 1992, suiting up for a team that would make it all the way to the Final Four. He was way down the pecking order among guards with Walters, Jordan, and Steve Woodberry ahead of him (among others, including small forwards) in the rotation. Still, Pearson averaged 3.4 points per game that season and came off the bench in 33 of the team’s 36 games.

In his sophomore season, Walters and Jordan were gone, but highly touted freshman Jacque Vaughn entered the mix. Pearson was still third in order behind Vaughn and Woodberry (and Patrick Richey at SF), but he saw his minutes per game increase from 9.9 to 17.1. Along with that, his points per game and rebounds per game also increased to 7.6 and 2.8. Vaughn and Woodberry were still responsible for the majority of the assists on that 1993-94 squad.

Pearson’s breakthrough year was his junior campaign. Raef LaFrentz came to Kansas that season, and Pearson was slotted as a small forward in the starting lineup. The 6’6” junior snatched that role from the outgoing Patrick Richey, and had his best season as a Jayhawk. In 23.5 minutes of action per game, Pearson averaged 9.6 points and 3.0 rebounds per contest.

In his senior season, Pearson was again relegated to mainly bench duty. Freshman Paul Pierce took over his role at the small forward position, but Pearson was rewarded with the captaincy of the team for his devoted service by coach Roy Williams. His minutes decreased dramatically with the uber-talented Pierce on board (down to about nine per game), but Pearson still managed to pour in 4.5 points per contest. He scored 10 points in the opening round of the 1996 NCAA tournament in a blowout win against South Carolina State, but rarely got into any game after that as KU lost in the Elite Eight to Syracuse.

After graduating from KU, Pearson has worked in the private sector and now owns and operates Pearson Basketball Basics, a group that helps young people learn basketball, in Lee’s Summit, Missouri