FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) --The bulldogs have touched down in Denver. The Fresno State Men's Basketball Team arrived in the mile high city Tuesday afternoon for their first-round game in the NCAA tournament. The dogs will take on the Utah Thursday on opening day of the tournament. The last time the Bulldogs reached the NCAA's was 2001. That team featured three home-grown starters.
The fiery Demetrius Porter is still involved with basketball as a local AAU coach. He's thrilled for the Bulldogs. "Very exciting. Just to hear that it's been 15 years-- that's a long time. I didn't realize I was out that long."
Instead of catching fire on the court Shannon Swillis now puts it out as a 6'6" Fresno city firefighter. The NCAA's were a special time. "There's teams that you never plan on playing, and teams you just hear about. So to actually face those teams in a tournament of 64-- it's a place to show what you can do."
Swillis left Bullard High for USC but transferred home to play for Tark.
Chris Jefferies was the third local Bulldog starter. The Washington Union grad transferred from Arkansas. "Me and Chris played in high school together. Me and Shannon always played AAU. So when all three got a chance to play together it was a special moment for three Fresno State kids, three Fresno kids, to be able to lead the Fresno State Bulldogs to the tournament," said Porter.
"It was good for the city of Fresno, just, not only to play basketball here but also to let the country know Fresno was a place to be reckoned with also," said Swillis.
Back in the day, we sat down with all three-- because starring roles in video games were new at the time for college athletes. "Yeah, I got dunked on by Demetrius Porter-- that's fake," said Jefferies.
All three were full of jokes.
Fresno State's 2001 team beat Cal but then fell to final four bound Michigan state.