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The Grueling Truth - Where Legends Speak / Top 10 Indiana Hoosiers of All-Time: Who is the Greatest?

Top 10 Indiana Hoosiers of All-Time: Who is the Greatest?

The greatest Hoosiers ever!
Publish Date: 04/03/2024
Fact checked by: Mark Lewis

Today, we look at the greatest Indiana Hoosiers to lace up the sneakers. Specifically, we will look at where Trayce Jackson-Davis ranks; Davis will go down as an all-time Hoosier legend, but how high will he rank? How do you compare a man like George McGinnis, who only played one year as a Hoosier, and Steve Alford, who played four years? McGinnis had the greatest single season and Hoosier ever had.

If you love this list, see how many Hoosiers made our top 20 Best Big Ten Basketball players of all time!


The criteria for me begin with each player’s impact on the program. McGinnis played one year, but that one year got the program headed back in the right direction. It’s not all about statistics, but stats play a part. Playing all four years does give you an advantage, but if you look at a player like Isiah Thomas, he had a significant impact in just two years and accomplished just about everything there was to accomplish at Indiana.

T-10) Quinn Buckner(1972-76) 

In Buckner’s freshman season, 1972–73, Indiana reached the Final Four, losing to UCLA. Buckner was the greatest leader in the history of Indiana Basketball and led the Hoosiers to the 1976 National Championship, and that Hoosier team is the last team to go undefeated.

Buckner was a consummate leader and one of the greatest defensive guards in College basketball history. Buckner also played football at Indiana.

Video: Quinn Buckner on the incredible undefeated run by the 1976 Indiana Hoosiers | 68 Shining Moments

Quinn Buckner on the incredible undefeated run by the 1976 Indiana Hoosiers | 68 Shining Moments

T-10) Walt Bellamy (1958-61) 

Bellamy is sometimes the forgotten Hoosier, but he was a dominant force for the Hoosiers. The 6’11” center is second on IU’s lists with 1,088 boards (three behind the top spot), and he holds the program’s top two single-season averages with 15.2 and 17.8 rebounds a night in his junior and senior seasons.

In addition, he averaged as many as 22 points a game in a season and was an all-around force for the Hoosiers.

Video: Honoring Indiana Legend Walt Bellamy

Honoring Indiana Legend Walt Bellamy

9) Don Schlundt (1951-55)

Schlundt led the Hoosiers to the National Championship in 1953. Schlundt was eligible to play as a freshman because of the Korean War. Schlundt had four seasons to rack up an eye-popping 2,192 career points—a mark nearly doubling Bobby Leonard’s previous record and still places third in school history. Schlundt was a dominant force and leader on one of the greatest Hoosier teams of all time.

Don was an original Hoosier legend under the great coach Branch McKraken and is one of the many reasons the Hoosiers became a blue-blood program.

Video: Indiana vs Kansas - 3/18/1953 - National Championship Game

Indiana vs Kansas – 3/18/1953 – National Championship Game

8) Mike Woodson (1976-80) 

Woodson was a terrific defender, as his 142 steals will attest. He stands fifth all-time in steals at Indiana. He was also a very dangerous offensive weapon, becoming the second player in IU history to score 2,000 career points.

Unfortunately, Woodson played from 77-80 and was a year after and a year before the Hoosiers won the National Championships. An injury in 1980 cost him a shot at winning a National championship, which would have put him in the top 5 on this list.

Video: Mike Woodson's Passion for Hoosier Basketball | Indiana Basketball | The Journey

Mike Woodson’s Passion for Hoosier Basketball | Indiana Basketball | The Journey

7) Alan Henderson(1991-95)

Henderson led the Hoosiers in rebounding all four years. He is the only Indiana University player to rank in the school’s top five in scoring, rebounding, blocked shots, and steals, and he appeared in the Final Four in 1992. In addition, his 23.5 points per game scoring average for the 1995 season is the highest single-season scoring average for any Indiana player during Bob Knight’s 29-year tenure.

An injury in 1993 to Henderson kept the Hoosiers from winning a sixth National Championship; with that being said, Henderson will go down in Hoosier lore as an all-around legend.

Video: Ex-Hoosiers and NBA star Alan Henderson feels blessed

Ex-Hoosiers and NBA star Alan Henderson feels blessed


6) Trayce Jackson Davis

This may seem high to some because of a lack of team success compared to the others rated on this list. But, the others on this list did not come into a situation as bad as what Trayce came into.

Davis single-handily brought the Hoosiers back to relevance in his four years and helped the Hoosiers to win a couple of tournament games with a team that would not have gotten near an NCAA Tournament bid without him.

Trayce ranks highly on the list of every major stat in Hoosiers history, and he did it with class! Hoosier fans will miss Trayce, but hopefully, when we look at Trayce’s time at Indiana we will point out and say that Trayce is what got the program back to where it used to be. Even if that doesn’t happen, nobody will ever forget his last two seasons playing for the Hoosiers.

Video: How Trayce Jackson-Davis Rewrote the Record Books | Indiana Basketball | The Journey

How Trayce Jackson-Davis Rewrote the Record Books | Indiana Basketball | The Journey

5) Steve Alford (1984-87) 

Alford was maybe the greatest shooter in Indiana Hoosier history, shooting over 50 percent in 1987 and helping lead the Hoosiers to the 1987 National Championship game. Alford was a product of the Bob Knight system, but with that being said, he did more with that system than just about any player in his position could have.

Alford was involved in some of the Indiana Hoosiers’ Greatest wins. Alford was a legendary Hoosier schoolboy player and he will never be forgotten as long as Hoosiers are playing basketball.

Video: Steve Alford and the 3 Pointer

Steve Alford and the 3 Pointer

4) George McGinnis (1970-71) 

McGinnis only played one season as a Hoosier, but what a season! McGinnis posted the fourth-best rebounding average in school history (14.7 a game) and set an Indiana record with 29.9 points per game.

After that McGinnis spectacular year, he went on to play with the ABA Indiana Pacers and later in the NBA. Hoosier fans can only think about what could have been with McGinnis. What might have happened had McGinnis been on the 1973 team that lost in the Final Four to UCLA?

Video: Indiana basketball legend George McGinnis dies at 73

Indiana basketball legend George McGinnis dies at 73


3) Scott May (1973-76)

May was the last team leader to go undefeated in 1976. May also took home the Naismith Award Player of the Year with averages of 23.5 points and 7.7 rebounds a game that season. For his career, the 6’7” May scored 1,593 points, the 11th-best total in Hoosier history. If May didn’t get hurt in 1975, the Hoosiers might have won back-to-back titles.

May almost lead the Hoosiers to back-to-back undefeated seasons, but an injury towards the end of the regular season hurt the Hoosier’s championship hopes as they would lose to Kentucky in the Regional Finals. That Hoosier team is considered by many to be the greatest college basketball team not to win a championship.

Video: 1976 NCAA Final Four Indiana vs UCLA

1976 NCAA Final Four Indiana vs UCLA

2) Calbert Cheaney (1989-93) 

Cheaney won the Wooden and Naismith awards as a senior and finished his career with a jaw-dropping school-record total of 2,613 points. Cheaney was a do-everything player who helped lead the Hoosiers to the 1992 Final Four.

Cheaney has a case to be number one when you look at the totality of his four years at Indiana. Not winning a National Championship relegates him to number two.

Video: Calbert Cheaney on Bob Knight's Passing

Calbert Cheaney on Bob Knight’s Passing

1) Isaiah Thomas (1980-81) 

Isiah Thomas’ 15.4 career points per game were the icing on the cake for IU’s greatest point guard. Thomas led the Hoosiers to the 1981 National Title while setting single-season school records with 197 assists (5.6 per game) and 74 steals (2.2 a night). Thomas’s greatest asset was a great leader, and after the 1981 team got off to a slow start, Thomas put the team on his back and led the Hoosiers to the National Title.

The Thomas that led the Hoosiers dominated the 1981 tournament, with blowouts of Maryland, UAB, St. Joesph’s, LSU, and North Carolina in the National Title game. Thomas went on to be even better in the NBA, as he helped lead the Detroit Pistons to back-to-back NBA Championships in 1989 and 1990.

Video: Hoosier Hysteria - Isiah Thomas Speech

Hoosier Hysteria – Isiah Thomas Speech

Honorable Mentions

Tom and Dick Van Arsdale

The Van Arsdale’s were identical twins, and they set Bloomington ablaze in the 1960s, the two will go down as Legendary Hoosiers and the greatest Basketball playing identical twins of all time!

Jay Edwards

Jay Edwards held one of the more memorable seasons in Indiana basketball history when he scored 20 points per game as a sophomore and hit 44.8 percent of three-point attempts – one such three-pointer won the game against No. 13 Michigan in February 1989!

Ray Tolbert

Ray Tolbert ranks among Indiana basketball’s greatest-ever players due to his impactful presence in the game without stats to always back him up. Tolbert finished second among team scorers, and minutes played while leading them all in rebounding in 1981.

At the 1981 NCAA Tournament, Tolbert had an exceptional start, scoring 26 points, 17 points, and 14 points over his first three postseason games.

Cody Zeller

Following his Big Ten Rookie of the Year season in 2011-12, Zeller was chosen as Preseason Big Ten Player of the Year and considered among the leading candidates for Wooden Award consideration in 2012-13. Over his two seasons at Indiana, he led them to a 56-16 record with an overall AP Poll ranking of No. 1, leading them into two Sweet 16 appearances.

A.J. Guyton

A.J. Guyton led the Big Ten in scoring as he earned Big Ten Player of the Year, First Team All-Big Ten honors and First Team Consensus All-American honors. Over his sophomore, junior and senior seasons, he ranked among the top ten Big Ten scorers and field goal percentage.

Damon Bailey

Damon Bailey was an Indiana Hoosier born and bred at Bedford North Lawrence High School, who Coach Bobby Knight recruited as an eighth grader. Before arriving in Bloomington, Bailey received several accolades, including Indiana Mr Basketball 1990, McDonald’s All-American honors, and National High School Player of the Year honors.

As a Hoosierhe finished fifth on the all-time scoring list and second all-time assist leader, earning both 1990-91 Big Ten Rookie of Year recognition and 1994 First Team All-Big Ten Honors.

Bob Knight led his Hoosiers team in scoring with 19.6 points per game during his senior year under Bailey, as he also averaged 4.3 rebounds and assists.

Yogi Ferrell

Ferrell averaged 16.9 points, 4.8 assists, 2.5 three-point field goals made per game (three-point shooting percentage of 41%) over his final three seasons at Indiana University and was named to both 2014-15 and 2015-16 First Team All-Big Ten squads as well as being considered for a National Ballot Wooden Award during that time.

Archie Dees

Archie Dees averaged 25.5 points and 14.4 rebounds during his last season at Bloomington under Branch McCracken. As scoring and rebounding leader of the Hoosiers, Dees earned himself First Team All-Big Ten honors, along with Second Team Consensus All-American recognition behind Elgin Baylor (Seattle), Oscar Robertson (Cincinnati), and Wilt Chamberlain (Kansas).

Keith Smart

He was one of Indiana’s first-ever JUCO transfers and a true playmaker. He hit the biggest shot in Hoosiers history when he nailed a baseline jumper in the 1987 National Championship game to give the Hoosiers banner number five.










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