Not many college basketball players are remembered for their defense.

Andre McGee is a major exception, making life miserable for opponents, especially during his junior and senior years with the University of Louisville basketball team. He was relentless, challenging opponents step for step, inspiring his teammates in the process.

Andre McGee

He turned into reality what Rick Pitino preached, that a strong defense is key for successful basketball teams. He was that good. This despite the fact that he was challenged by Sickle Cell traits, sometimes struggling for breath. He was getting oxygen before and after games, along with IV fluids.

McGee is back with the team as Program Coordinator after a year of basketball in Germany. “Among other things, I keep up with players to make sure guys are where they need to be. I’m learning how to break down films, shadowing the coaches, learning how to scout opposing teams,” he said.

What motivated him on defense?

“Rick Pitino is a tough coach, and demands that we play defense,” McGee said during a recent appearance. “I didn’t have a choice. I wanted to play basketball, and playing tough defense was my guarantee of playing time.

“It was very personal for me. I just wanted to stay in the game at first. Then after a while, it became a point of pride. I wanted to be the best at what I did.”

Mission accomplished, Andre.

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By Charlie Springer

Charlie Springer is a former Louisville editor and sportswriter, a public affairs consultant, a UofL grad and longtime fan.