December 11, 1979 |
|Listed height||7 ft 1 in (2.16 m)|
|Listed weight||300 lb (136 kg)|
|High school||Olympic (Charlotte, North Carolina)|
|College||Western Kentucky (1999–2003)|
|NBA draft||2003 / Undrafted|
|Career highlights and awards|
Marcus was born in Chicago, Illinois but raised in Charlotte, North Carolina. He grew extremely quickly; by sixth grade he was 6 ft 1 in (1.85 m), in seventh he was 6 ft 3 in (1.91 m), and in eighth grade Marcus stood 6 ft 4 in (1.93 m) tall. By the time he was soundly into his high school career, Marcus was a certified seven-footer. However, he did not begin playing basketball until the school's new head coach, David Davis, convinced him to play for the team. The coaching staff worked with him, improving Marcus' fundamentals and acclimatizing him to the nuances of basketball.
Despite being so tall, colleges did not try to recruit him that much. A couple Clemson scouts were at one of Marcus' high school games for two other players on his team, and one of them was then-assistant Clemson coach Dennis Felton. Within the next year, Felton would become the newest head coach at Western Kentucky and recruited Marcus to play for him.
Marcus was always insecure about his height and the expectations of basketball greatness that he carried with it. During his recruiting visit to WKU, the players emphasized teamwork and schoolwork while downplaying pressure. This excited Marcus enough to commit to WKU.
As a true freshman in 1998–99, Marcus did not play basketball in order to focus on his grades, adjustment to college, and to become more prepared to deal with the rigors of college basketball's pace and style.
When Marcus started playing for the team as a redshirt freshman, he burst onto the Sun Belt Conference scene. He averaged 11.5 points and 9.5 rebounds per game en route to being named the Sun Belt Newcomer of the Year and Defender of the Year. It caught the media's attention, too, and he was being discussed as a potential NBA Draft pick within the next year or two.
The following season, Marcus' sophomore campaign, he played even better and garnered more accolades in the process. He led the Hilltoppers in scoring at 16.7 points per game, and his 12.1 rebounds per game led all of NCAA Division I. Western Kentucky compiled a 24–7 record, winning the Sun Belt regular season and conference tournament championships, on their way to an NCAA Tournament berth. Up to that point in his life, Marcus had felt out of place, but the basketball success and recognition brought him confidence.
His last two years at WKU, however, were a disaster. A pre-season injury to his ankle sidelined him months during his junior year, and after rushing his rehabilitation, Marcus only lasted half of his senior season before he packed up and headed home to Charlotte. It was during his final two years of college when he was not actually playing for the team that he became addicted to alcohol. He gained a lot of weight, and rumors of Marcus "throwing away" his potential NBA career circulated.
Awards and honors
- Sun Belt Newcomer of the Year (1999–00)
- Sun Belt Defensive Player of the Year (1999–00)
- Sun Belt Tournament MVP (2000–01)
- NCAA Division I rebounding leader (2000–01)
- Sun Belt Conference Men's Basketball Player of the Year (2000–01)
- 2× Associated Press Honorable Mention All-American (2000–01, 2001–02)
- School record for career blocks (214)
- Scored 1,113 points in just over two seasons' worth of games played
NBA training camp and later life
Even though he faded as his collegiate career wore on, the NBA's Denver Nuggets still wanted to see what he could do. Mostly willingly, but somewhat out of self-perceived obligation, Marcus agreed. The Nuggets' strength coach worked him out up to three times a day in preparation for the pre-season training camp. He lasted only until early November, but by then he had re-acquired his urge to drink alcohol and missed mandatory team meetings. The Nuggets parted ways with Marcus and he never played in an NBA game.
- Adelson, Eric; Galvin, Dan (2005). "SNAKE EYES: A seven-footer with NBA skills, Chris Marcus looked set to follow in Shaq's footsteps. He's taken a very different path". ESPN the Magazine. ESPN Internet Ventures. Retrieved January 26, 2011.
- "Prospect Profile: Chris Marcus". NBA.com. Turner Sports Interactive, LLC. 2003. Retrieved January 26, 2011.
- "#10 Greatest Player in Hilltopper History". hilltopperhaven.com. Western Kentucky University. November 10, 2010. Retrieved January 26, 2011.
- "2009–10 NCAA Men's Basketball Records" (PDF). 2009–10 NCAA Men's Basketball Media Guide. National Collegiate Athletic Association. 2009. Retrieved January 26, 2011.