Thursday, June 10, 2010
UC Santa Barbara's Phippen is a rarity
By Diamond Leung
UC Santa Barbara forward Sam Phippen, who was selected by the Chicago White Sox in the 41st round of the Major League Baseball draft, is believed to be the only Division I athlete to play both basketball and baseball this season.
The 6-foot-9 Phippen earned that designation when he came out for baseball for the first time after playing sparingly as a junior on the basketball team, averaging 9.4 minutes in 22 games with the Big West champions.
By midseason, baseball coaches discovered Phippen could throw about 92-93 miles per hour and used him out of the bullpen in seven appearances, watching him compile a 7.71 ERA but show talent with a right arm that hadn't seen much action since high school.
Team communications director Matt Hurst, meanwhile, discovered upon sending out an e-mail to every Division I athletic department in the nation and receiving no responses that Phippen might very well be the only athlete to play both baseball and basketball this season.
Two other Division I college basketball players who were selected as pitchers in the draft -- Northern Iowa's Lucas O'Rear (13th round, Cincinnati Reds) and American's Stephen Lumpkins (42nd round, Pittsburgh Pirates) -- went to schools that did not have baseball programs.