People in Lafayette, La. are frustrated. In Andrew Toney, a 6'3" guard for the University of Southwestern Louisiana, they feel they have a genuine superstar, and they want the world to know about it. Toney has scored 2,253 points over his three-plus seasons at USL, one good reason why local fans feel he is the equal of any player in the nation and, perhaps more important to them, good enough to join Pistol Pete Maravich and Dwight (Bo) Lamar as Louisiana basketball legends.
Only one person in town takes exception: Toney himself. He doesn't care for the legend talk. "All I want is to have fun and play basketball," he says.
What fan could ask for more? Toney is merely averaging 29.5 points a game, and he has a chance to become the seventh leading scorer in NCAA history, surpassing such luminaries as Phil Ford, Jerry West, Lew Alcindor and Austin Carr. He has accomplished this while averaging only 18 shots a game, but because he is blessed with amazing quickness, he seldom shoots from beyond 15 feet and is adept at drawing shooting fouls for three-point plays. He will end his career as USL's second-highest all-time scorer, behind Lamar.
And he can hack it in the classroom, too. A conscientious, goal-oriented person, Toney said when he first arrived at USL that he would like to graduate early. And he did, completing work on his degree in health and physical education in December, one semester ahead of schedule. The degree meant so much to him that he returned in the middle of a basketball trip to the West Coast to attend graduation ceremonies. In his absence the Ragin' Cajuns suffered one of their three losses of the season, a one-point decision to Portland State.
"I was sorry the team lost, but coming back for graduation meant so much to me after working so hard," says Toney, who is now taking graduate courses in administration and supervision. "My parents had come all the way from Birmingham and I had to be there. Accepting the degree in the mail wouldn't have been right."
Coming from Toney, that's quite a speech. He rarely talks about himself, never solicits recognition for his accomplishments. "I just do what I can to help the team," Toney says. "Things like publicity aren't what I strive for. I take pride in what I do, so I like to hold things inside. I share some things about basketball but not a lot."
What he shares tends to be wild understatement. "I guess I shot kind of well tonight," Toney allowed after a 46-point performance in a recent game against Auburn.
"Andrew's just that way," says a local sportscaster. "We've tried to get him on our show many times, but he insists we use guys from the bench, so they can be seen."
Although he would never shout it out loud, Toney is confident that his game is as good as those of many of the country's more highly acclaimed guards, like Louisville's Darrell Griffith or Iowa's Ronnie Lester. "You have to respect what other guys can do, so I don't like to compare myself with them," Toney says. "Every player has a different game, anyway. I'm not fancy, not spectacular, no passes through my legs, so it's hard to judge. But you go out on a court and the actions will speak for themselves."
Toney's actions scream at you. This past summer he led the U.S. team in scoring in both the World University Games and the Russian Spartakiade. He hopes to do equally well in the Moscow Olympics, but first he must make the team, and here politics intrude.