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Big-Country Reeves and the Final Four

March 28, 1995

THE NBA is name-brand basketball. The pros are under a Shaq Attack, courtesy of Mr. O'Neal. ''The Story of Michael -- Part Deux'' continues. (We're speaking of Mr. Jordan, of course.) And so on.

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College players don't have the time or national exposure to build name-brand recognition. But that's just what's so refreshing about the college game. This year the Oklahoma State Cowboys and their unlikely star, Bryant (Big Country) Reeves, provide the Cinderella element that makes college hoops' Final Four one of sport's most-entertaining events. Mr. Reeves, his ample and unmistakable 7 ft., 292-lb. frame topped by a crew cut, doesn't conform to 1990s basketball stereotypes. He's not a prototype pro-in-waiting, but a man who looks ready to get back to ordinary life after the hoopla.

Arkansas, UCLA, and North Carolina have traveled the route to the Final Four frequently. Those who love underdogs have their team in the Cowboys and their unconventional star.