The theme this week on the Bearcats Blog countdown are defenders. James White was a lockdown perimeter defender. JK Schaffer and Derek Wolfe proved their defensive skills to be so elite that they are both in the NFL. The following athlete was a bad ass defender who was a fan favorite. Like James White, he could throw down a dunk. That player is Immanuel McElroy.
Immanuel McElroy is probably one of the top 5 on the ball defenders in UC history. That is a lot of praise, but no one shut down the opposing wings like McElroy did. Some players have one skill that they ride to success. McElroy's was playing shut down defense. When you look at the players from the Bob Huggins era, McElroy is one of the underrated guys who stand out. Obviously because he made this list.
The transfer from Tyler JC wasn't exactly keen on shooting the ball much his first few games as a Bearcat. He scored 3, 2, 2, and 5 the first 4 games of the season. He had 6 assists in the opener. He had a 2 steal game against Marshall. McElroy got bigger minutes in a rout of Oakland. He took 11 shots, more than the first 4 games combined, making 5 for 10 points. He added 5 boards. He had 6-5 against UNLV. Mac made a lot of noise against Clemson in an 88-80 win. He scored 12 points on 6-7 shooting with 4 rebounds. He scored 4 points in each of the next 4 games, before scoring 5 against Marquette. Mac had 8 on 3-3 shooting against Louisville with 8 rebounds, 2 assists and 1 block. He tore up UAB with 14 on 5-7, 8 boards, 4 assists and 2 steals. He had 4-7-1-2 the following game. He had an ok 5-6 against Wake Forest before going for 11-4-4-1 steal against Tulane. He scored 6 against Charlotte, 9 against DePaul, 7 against Southern Miss and 7-5-2 against Memphis.
McElroy scored a season high 16 points in the rematch against Marquette. He hit 6-11 from the floor. He added in 7 rebounds, 4 assists and a steal. He had 14 on 4-6, 5-5 FTs, with 3 assists against St Louis. Mac had 12 on 4-6 against Houston. He finished the 4 game scoring explosion with 13 on 6-11, with 5 boards, 3 assists and 2 steals against USF. Following a 4 point game against DePaul, McElroy scored 13, 7-10 FTs, in a close win over UAB to kick off the C-USA Tournament. There is no play by play of that game, so let's assume he iced it. He scored 13 the next day against Memphis on the back of 4-7, 5-8 FTs. Mac only scored 5, but with 5 assists, in the Bearcats loss to Charlotte in the title game. Immanuel didn't score a lot in the NCAA tournament. He had 5-3-2-1 steal against BYU. He had 2-5-1 against Kent State. He had 6 against Stanford. 2 of them came after his 1 steal via an alley oop from Kenny Satterfield. I yelled very loudly when this happened. If you remember, that was the late game on Thursday night. My parents weren't happy.
The junior year stats for Immanuel McElroy were as followed. He made 97-174, 55.7% from the field. He was just 3-10 from 3. He was 47-86, 54.7% at the foul line. That added up to 244 points. McElroy had 115 rebounds, 58 assists, 19 steals and 2 blocks. His stat line was 7 points, 3.3 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 0.5 steals a game.
Immanuel McElroy started every single game his senior season. He had a solid opener in the loss to Oklahoma State, 6 points, 10 boards, 3 assists, 1 steal. He had 10-3-2-1 against Wright St. He had trouble with his shot going 2-7 the next 2 games, for 5 and 6 points, but had 6 boards in the first. He had 8-5-3 and 10-6-6-3 steals in back to back wins. Mac had 14 against Toledo on 7-13, with 7 boards, 2 steals and a block. He had 14 in the blowout of Xavier on 7-11, with 9 boards, 4 assists and a block. He had 8-7 and 8-5-2-1 the following games. He scored 12 against Mississippi State the hard way. He made 3 threes in that game. He made 2 threes the rest of the season. He had attempted more than 1 three just 4 times in his career until that point. He took 3 threes twice in his career. He made multiples once. He also had 4 boards, 2 assists and a steal.
McElroy put up a near double double the following game, 10-9, against Purdue. He had 15-6-4-1 steal against Akron. He went 7-7 at the line in those games. A long turnaround from the poor shooter the previous year. As the calender turned to 2002 and conference play started, McElroy had trouble getting back to double digits. Some of that was because he spent more effort on D, some was because he couldn't get his shot to fall. He was 3-8 against ECU, 3-9 against Charlotte and 4-10 against Houston. He had 9 boards against Charlotte and 6 assists against Houston. Mac scored 7, 3-5 shooting, with 6 boards and 3 assists against DePaul. After a 5 point outing, he tore up the box score against St Louis with 8 points, 6 boards, 1 assist, 2 steals and 1 block. He had 7, 2-10, 6 boards, 4 assists vs USF. He had 7 the next game and 9 against Marquette. Mac put up 7-7 against Charlotte.
Nearly every shot Immanuel McElroy took against Wake Forest fell. He was 7-10, 5-6 at the foul line. He had a career best 19 points in the Bearcats 103-94 win. UC scored 61 points the second half. Mac had 8 against St Louis on 4-8. He went 4-8 the next game, with 2 FTs, in a 10 point game against Southern Miss. He put 10-4 assists on DePaul. In the big game for the C-USA title against Marquette, McElroy shot poorly, 2-9, 6 points, but had 9 boards and 4 assists. Dwyane Wade had 19 points, but on 19 shots. Cordell Henry was just 5-16. McElroy closed the regular season in scoring style. He had 11 against Louisville. On senior day, he had 16 points on 5-10, 6-8 FTs, 8 rebounds, 2 assists and 1 steal against Memphis. He had 8 to open the C-USA tournament against USF. He had 8 against Charlotte, but had 6 boards and 7 assists. He scored 12 in the championship win against Marquette, 6-8 FTs, with 4 boards and 3 assists. McElroy abused Boston in the Bearcats first game of the NCAA tournament. He scored 14 points on 7-11 shooting. He had 11 rebounds, 6 assists and 2 blocks. It was his only double double. He got close to one against UCLA. He had 13 on 5-13, with 8 boards.
Immanuel McElroy was 130-279, 46.6% from the field. He hit 5-28, 17.9% from 3. He was 67-94, 71.3% at the foul line. That was good for 332 points. He would have hit 49% from the field if he never attempted a 3. He probably should have never attempted a 3. He was very bad at them. Mac had 183 boards, 93 assists, 25 steals and 11 blocks. His stat line was 9.5 points, 5.2 rebounds. 2.7 assists, 0.7 steals. McElroy was named the Conference USA defensive player of the year.
McElroy scored 576 points his UC career. He had averages of 8.2 points, 4.3 rebounds. 2.2 assists and 0.6 steals.
Why He Made the List
If you asked me who the guards were on the late 90s, early 2000s Bearcats, I would tell you that they were great defenders who had a history of not being able to shoot. We saw a lot of them and I'm sure I don't need to run down the list. Immanuel McElroy went to extremes on that point. Every shot I remember him making looked like this.
Look at the Boston picture above. You think that shot is going in? Hell no, it's not. It's going in the 5th row. McElroy finds his spot on the list for mainly sentimental reasons though. He wore 23. He dunked a lot. He was the glue guy on one of my (and all of ours) favorite Bearcat teams of all time. He is also the only player that I ran into on campus. I said hi to him. He nodded at me. I would have asked him to sign my hat I was wearing, but it was a Louisville hat and that would have been weird. Hey, that hat was very comfortable. If I still had it, I would still wear it. Is Immanuel McElroy really the 17th best Bearcat of all time? Probably not. He was a great defender and might be the 17th best defender of all time. He was a guy who came along at the perfect moment of my sports fan life that I remember fondly and will love forever.
What He's Doing Now
Immanuel McElroy is playing ball in Germany. His wikipedia says that he was the defensive player of the year in Germany in 2006, 2007 and 2008. That's pretty damn good. He's still playing there now. He averaged 8.2 points, 4.4 boards and 3.4 assists this past season.