The thought here used to be that former Iona men's coach Jeff Ruland was the best NBA player with a MAAC connection.
The 6-foot-10 inside force was a mercurial star, getting votes for the NBA's MVP award (finishing 12th in the balloting as a rookie and 9th as a second-year player), but injuries severely limited his playing time after three full seasons.
Ruland averaged 17.4 points and 10.2 rebounds over parts of eight NBA seasons, but he never played more than 37 games in any season after his first three.
Talent-wise, Ruland is arguably the best MAAC connection we've ever had in the NBA.
And, a note here: we're considering any conference connection. Ruland never played in the MAAC. His time as a player at Iona came before the MAAC was formed. His MAAC "connection" is as Iona's coach, first as an assistant, then as a head coach, in the late 1990's through the mid-2000's.
If we're talking about best former MAAC player to appear in the NBA, the easy answer is former La Salle standout Lionel Simmons.
But, for this debate, we're considering any MAAC connection.
And, now, Ruland might have to move over ... at least in terms of a MAAC connection with the best NBA career.
That designation would go to a recent hiring for the Rider men's staff, Donyell Marshall.
Marshall joined the Kevin Baggett's staff with the Broncs a couple of weeks ago.
And while he was never quite the all-star caliber player Ruland was at his best, Marshall was far more than a serviceable performer.
He played 15 NBA seasons, appeared in 957 games (to 332 for Ruland) and scored 10,716 career points.
At his peak, the 6-foot-9 forward averaged career bests of 15.4 points and 8.6 rebounds per game in the 1997-98 season. For his career he averaged 11.2 points, 6.7 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game..
At worst he was an effective journeyman, playing for eight different NBA teams. Over his career he was ranked, by one source, the 431st best player of all time. Ruland, because of the briefness of his career, is unranked as a player.
Marshall played through the 2008-09 NBA season. He is also former star at UConn, averaging 25.1 points per game there as a junior before opting for the NBA draft in 1994 when he was the fourth player picked.
Since his playing days he has worked as an assistant coach at George Washington University at the college level and professionally with the NBA Developmental League's Maine Red Claws.
Marshall has also done some coaching at the AAU level in recent years.
"Donyell brings to our staff a wealth of basketball knowledge, experience and success at every level," said Baggett, in an announcement of Marshall's hiring.
"I'm excited for our players to have a guy like him in our program to be able to explain to them the hard work and dedication it takes to play in the NBA. I'm also excited to have Donyell on staff with his strong recruiting ties which will allow us to continue to bring in high level recruits in our program."