Whatever happened to ... Michael Finley

Throughout the day, we'll take a look back at iconic figures — one per school — from Big Ten's basketball past. The 12th installment:

Whatever happened to ... Wisconsin’s Michael Finley

Then: He was considered to be the third member of Proviso East’s “Three Amigos,” not as highly touted as teammates Donnie Boyce and Sherell Ford. He picked Wisconsin over offers from Northwestern and DePaul. Good call for the Badgers. During his time in Madison, Finley became the school’s career scoring leader. After his college eligibility ran out, Finley was a first-round draft pick by the Phoenix Suns.

Now: Though he still is willing to come back and play, Finley is living the retired NBA player life in Dallas with his wife and three kids. He is working with the Mavericks, one of his former teams. Finley played 17 years in the NBA, earning a title with the San Antonio Spurs in 2007. Finley finished his NBA career with a 15.7 scoring average.

What they’re saying: “I had him on his official visit, and I remember a young, shy kid. After four years, I saw a guy who had really grown out of his shell and became a vocal leader. He exuded confidence by the time he had four years in Madison. You just saw him really mature. He became a great person, not just a great player. You saw his athleticism right off the bat. His work ethic is what really took him over the top. He came in knowing he had some flaws. He knew he needed to work on his ball handling and be a more consistent shooter. He got in the gym and really pushed himself. He was very much a sleeper. Mike just had that determination. Maybe it began by being the third fiddle. Maybe the Ringo Starr syndrome, where you are the forgotten Beatle. He used that as motivation to be the best. It worked out for him. He doesn’t get credit for how smart he is. He’s a tremendous thinker.” — Howard Moore, former teammate and current UIC coach

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