UCLA Mount Rushmore Men’s Basketball of All Time
UCLA Athletics has a long history of winning titles, producing Hall of Famers, and promoting young athletes who grow bigger than their respective sports. For the past 102 years, the Champions have made Westwood their home.
On hardwood, UCLA men’s basketball has had its fair share of iconic and important figures. Here are the four who top the list and have their faces lifted up on Mount Rushmore’s metaphorical All Bruins for the team.
Kareem Abdul Jabbar
Arguably the greatest college basketball player of all time – or just the greatest basketball player of all time, depending on how angry you are looking to anger Michael Jordan and LeBron fans. James – Abdul-Jabbar has taken an already dominant UCLA program to new heights.
Lew Alcindor, as he was known during his time at Westwood, led Bruin’s freshmen to an exhibition victory over his two-time defending National Champion teammates in 1965. This moment is a nice anecdote to throw away, but that pales in comparison to the dominance he had when the real games started.
Abdul-Jabbar scored 56 points in his college debut and is averaging 29.0 points and 15.5 rebounds in his freshman. For his career, he played 26.4 and 15.5 per night and won 86 of the 88 games he played. Add to that three NCAA titles, three National Player of the Year awards, three unanimous All-American selections and a handful of school records, and you’ve got yourself a living legend and more.
And who could mistake the sky hook for someone other than Kareem’s hook?
It also doesn’t hurt that Abdul-Jabbar was selected No.1 overall in the 1969 NBA Draft and became the league’s all-time top scorer, and neither did his record in the league. as a coach, social activist, journalist or actor.
Abdul-Jabbar is an icon, and it started the second he set foot on the UCLA campus.
The other contender for the most outstanding college basketball player of all time is Walton.
His stats weren’t as garish as Abdul-Jabbar’s, and his senior year was highlighted by Notre Dame smashing UCLA. 88 consecutive victories and the Bruins lost in the Final Four, but even a less than ideal end to his career at Westwood couldn’t obscure how much he meant to the program.
From stories about Wooden kicking him out of training for a haircut to his incredible 1970s Dead Head personality, Walton’s time with UCLA has been memorable for more than just his performance on the court. His skills weren’t ridiculous, however, as he averaged 20.3 points, 15.7 rebounds and 5.5 assists per game – assists were only recorded in his third and final season. .
While technically not a 7 footer, Walton had grips, a vision and a feel of the game never before seen in a big man. He has put his unique skills to work for three unanimous All-American teams, two National Player of the Year awards and two NCAA championships.
That second title came in 1973, making it seven in a row for UCLA, and it wouldn’t have happened without Walton’s 44 points on 21 of 22 shots, 13 rebounds, two assists and one block – considered by much to be the best championship game performance in NCAA history.
Walton’s status as the No. 1 overall pick and two-time NBA champion has extended his legacy beyond Westwood – even as his professional career has been derailed by injuries – as has his bizarre and insane colored comment. over the decades.
Still, Walton will support the Pac until the day of his death and his No.32 jersey will be hanging from the rafters of the Pauley flag long after.
The Bruins have won only one NCAA Championship since John Wooden retired, and they won it thanks to O’Bannon.
O’Bannon came off the bench and didn’t do much on his freshman-year stat sheet. Over his next three seasons, however, O’Bannon averaged 18.4 points and 8.0 rebounds per game with 51.9% shots from the field and 39.9% shots from 3.
It all unfolded in that 1994-95 season, with O’Bannon making the All-American squad, winning the Wooden Award and Pac-12 Player of the Year and ultimately leading his team to a title.
There were plenty of heroes throughout the Bruins tournament that year, and O’Bannon was surely one of them, averaging 17.0 points and 7.4 rebounds per game en route to the final. In that championship game, O’Bannon played all 40 minutes, scoring 30 points and snatching 17 boards.
His post-UCLA career hasn’t turned into much on the pitch, but that doesn’t change how important he has been in extending the Bruins’ legacy into the modern age. O’Bannon’s role in unlocking name, image and likeness rights for student-athletes also cannot go unnoticed.
The Wizard of Westwood.
The Pyramid of Success.
The most successful coach in UCLA history and the architect of the most dominant dynasty the sports world has ever known.
There isn’t much to say about Wooden that hasn’t already been said, but it’s good to browse through his accomplishments every now and then. A record of 620-147 at UCLA gives Wooden about as many wins as Ben Howland, Jim Harrick, Steve Lavin and Gene Bartow combined. Wooden made 12 Final Fours, won 10 NCAA Championships, won five AP Coach of the Year awards, won his conference 15 times, and even earned a Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2003.
From 1948 to 1963, Wooden was a very good college coach who led his team to the occasional AAWU title and rare tournaments. Over the next 12 seasons, the Wooden Bruins lost just 22 games, compared to the 335 wins they racked up.
UCLA won 43 March Madness games during that span, more than double their regular season loss count. The 88-game winning streak and seven-year championship streak that Wood has spearheaded has never been matched and probably never will be.
Even after his retirement after the 1975 title game, Wooden remained a constant at Westwood. Having coached Abdul-Jabbar, Walton, Gail Goodrich, Walt Hazzard, Jamaal Wilkes, Marques Johnson, Sidney Wicks, Henry Bibby and many more, Wooden has gone on to mentor countless players and coaches, such as Harrick and the UCLA Gymnastics Coach Valorie Kondos Field.
It has been over a decade since Wooden died, but his legacy has not and will never be lost on campus.
Gail Goodrich: The Bruins’ top two-team scorer in the NCAA Championship, Goodrich has 21.5 and 24.8 points per game in his last two college seasons. Before going to the NBA to lead the Los Angeles Lakers to the 1972 NBA Championship, Goodrich ushered in a winning era at Westwood and ended his college career as the team’s top scorer.
Reggie Miller: One of the greatest shooters in NBA history made his debut at Westwood, and although he didn’t win a championship in his four seasons, Miller was an unrivaled pure scorer. Miller averaged 24.0 points on 0.550 / 0.439 / 0.860 shooting spreads from 1985 to 1987, and he converted that efficiency into a legendary career with the Indiana Pacers that earned him a spot at the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
Walt Hazzard: Hazzard went from good to excellent in 1964, winning the inaugural UCLA National Championship and Final Four Most Outstanding Player, being unanimously named All-American, winning a gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics and being getting picked up by the Lakers in the NBA Draft. He would also later return to Westwood as coach of the Bruins from 1984 to 1988.
Jamaal wilkes: The overlap with Walton meant Wilkes was never the No. 1 star of his UCLA teams, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that Wilkes is a two-time NCAA and All-American champion whose No. 52 is withdrawn by both Bruins and Lakers. Wilkes is also a four-time NBA champion and three-time NBA All-Star.
Johnson brands: Only a particular type of player can guarantee that their poster is on the wall in Michael Jordan’s dormitory, and that is exactly what Johnson did. Before being a five-time NBA All-Star with the Milwaukee Bucks and Los Angeles Clippers, Johnson won the 1975 NCAA Championship – Wooden’s 10th and final – and he won the very first Wooden Award in 1977. .