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The Grueling Truth - Where Legends Speak / Top 10 Indiana Hoosiers of the 1970s

Top 10 Indiana Hoosiers of the 1970s

Publish Date: 08/08/2023
Fact checked by: Simon Briffa

Top 10

The top 10 of the 1970s was the start of the Glory Days for Indiana Basketball, and today we will look at the top ten players for the Hoosiers from that memorable decade.

10) John Laskowski (1972-75)

The affectionate name of “Laz”, a former South Bend native, is now a Hoosier legend.

Laskowski, a 6-foot-6 guard, was a perfect size. This would have allowed him to earn a salary in the NBA during his time with the Chicago Bulls. In those years, getting starting spots with similar-sized players like Bobby Wilkerson, Scott May, and Tom Abernethy was challenging. During his three-year career, Laskowski still managed to average in double figures (10.8 points per game). This was aided by a junior season in 1973-74, which saw him score 12.5 (Big Ten play) and a career-high 50.7 per cent from floor.

He was part of the 1974-1975 team, which was widely regarded as Indiana’s most talented and complete team. He averaged 9.5 points in the “Super-Sub” position, where his minutes dropped a bit. He was also reliable throughout the season at the line, hitting at an 82.9 per cent rate.

Video: John Laskowski on Sports Illustrated Cover

John Laskowski on Sports Illustrated Cover

 

9) Joby Wright (1969-72)

Wright, a 6-foot-8 forward, has had his career mixed with two Indiana staffs. He showed that he could score regardless of the coach or style.

Wright averaged 14.7 and 17.6 points in his two first seasons under the Lou Watson system.

When Bob Knight arrived right before the 1971-72 season, Wright was well-adjusted. He scored 19.9 points and grabbed 9.3 boards, a career record.

After his senior year, Wright was named All-Big Ten. Knight appointed him team captain before the year even began.

Video: A true Hoosier legend, Joby Wright, tells incredible Indiana basketball stories on House of Hoosier!

A true Hoosier legend, Joby Wright, tells incredible Indiana basketball stories on House of Hoosier!

8) Bobby Wilkerson (1973-76)

Wilkerson’s stats don’t compare to others, but anyone who watched him play in the three seasons he was part of knew how important he was for each Hoosier basketball team. He was 11th in the NBA Draft in 1976 and went on to play seven years in the league, averaging 10.1 points per game.

Wilkerson, a product of Anderson’s Madison Heights High program that produced many Hoosiers, was 6-foot-6 and a strong guard. He could defend well as well. Bob Knight stated in the mid-70s, Wilkerson was the best player he ever coached because “he could defend anyone.”

Wilkerson was also a great ball handler, leading the unbeaten 1975-1976 team in assists with 5.3 per match.

Wilkerson was a starting player on the 1975-76 unbeaten team. He averaged 7.8 points per match, similar to his junior year scoring output.

Video: BOBBY WILKERSON 1976 NCAA BASKETBALL CHAMPIONS

BOBBY WILKERSON 1976 NCAA BASKETBALL CHAMPIONS

7) Steve Green (1972-75)

The 1974-75 team at IU was undoubtedly its best thanks to Steve Green’s presence, who was then in his final season as a Hoosier. He led the team with 16.6 points per match in his senior year, despite May, Buckner and Benson.

Green, a 6-foot-7 forward from Silver Creek High in Sellersburg (Indiana), was a two-time All-American. Green’s best statistical season as a junior was when he averaged 16.7 points per game and 5.4 boards and was in double figures for all but four of those games.

Video: Hoosier Storytime with Steve Green

Hoosier Storytime with Steve Green

6) George McGinnis (1970-71)

Big George only played one season at Indiana, but he established records that may never again be broken. McGinnis averaged 30.0 rebounds and 14.7 points per game. McGinnis’s scoring record is still a single-season IU record. His career average is almost seven points higher than Don Schlundt’s 23.3 career mark.

McGinnis scored at least 20 points in every game except three, all in Hoosier uniforms. This includes an Indiana record of 14 consecutive games.

George scored 30 points or more in half of the games he played. If George plays a couple more years he would probably sit at number one on this list.

Video: Indianapolis Washington Continentals Celebrate 50th Anniversary of 1969 State Finals Championship

Indianapolis Washington Continentals Celebrate 50th Anniversary of 1969 State Finals Championship

5) Steve Downing (1970-73)

George McGinnis overshadowed Downing, his high school teammate. McGinnis was Downing’s idol. However, Downing made his mark after McGinnis moved on to the riches of professional basketball.

His scoring was nearly doubled as a junior, and he seized 15.1 boards per game. In his junior season, he had one of the greatest games by a Hoosier. Downing scored 47 points and grabbed 25 rebounds in a double-overtime win over Kentucky.

After leading Indiana to its first Final Four in 20 years, Downing was awarded All-American status in 1973. Downing increased his scoring to 20.1 points per match that year. Downing scored 26 points in the semifinal match against the UCLA team led by Bill Walton.

Video: January 1989 - George McGinnis & Steve Downing at IU-MSU Game

January 1989 – George McGinnis & Steve Downing at IU-MSU Game

 

4) Kent Benson (1973-77)

Steve Downing was gone, and Benson took over as Indiana’s man in the interior when he arrived for 1973-74.

After the 6-foot-10 Benson arrived from New Castle bearing a Mr Basketball trophy, much was expected of him. Benson averaged at least 15 points per game in his three previous years, he saved the best for last during his senior season averaging 19.8 as a senior. Over his entire career, he averaged 9.0 boards per game, including 10.5 in 1976-1977.

It is obvious that Benson was the leading man in the middle of the 1975 and 1976 teams, which combined went 63-1.

Benson’s big shoulders and unremarkable handling ability could be used to drive inside. He could also play well with his back towards the basket.

Video: Benson kent

Benson kent

3) Mike Woodson (1977-80)

A 6-foot-5 guard and natural scorer, Woodson averaged just below 20 points during his IU career. As a junior, Woodson averaged 21.0 points and 5.7 rebounds, dished out 100 assists. This led to him being named All-American.

A senior, Woodson suffered a herniated disk five games into his season. Indiana was the No.1 At the time; after undergoing surgery, he was back when Indiana was just 7-5 in league play. Indiana was struggling to remain in the hunt. To win the conference title, the Hoosiers quickly won the final six games of the regular season. The team lost to Purdue’s Joe Barry Carroll-led team in the Sweet Sixteen round of the NCAA tournament.

Woodson, a native Hoosier, arrived in Indiana shortly after the 1976 undefeated team. Woodon lost the Mr Basketball award to North Carolina-bound Dave Colescott from Marion.

Woodson scored 48 at Illinois to close the regular season on March 3, 1979. Only two Jimmy Rayl games from the early ’60s topped that in Hoosier History.

Video: Hoosier Hysteria: Mike Woodson intro

Hoosier Hysteria: Mike Woodson intro

2) Quinn Buckner (1972-76)

If winning is the primary measure of success, Buckner is the greatest Hoosier ever.

Buckner was a freshman and scored double digits. He led Indiana to the Final Four. In his two final seasons, he did not lose a Big Ten match and lost only one, the 1975 NCAA regional final against Kentucky.

Buckner would lead the 1976 USA team to win the Olympic gold medal. He also played 10 NBA seasons.

Video: Quinn Buckner on What Made 1976 Indiana Was Special | House Of Hoosier | Field of 68

Quinn Buckner on What Made 1976 Indiana Was Special | House Of Hoosier | Field of 68

1) Scott May (1973-76)

The best college basketball player in the mid-1970s.

Over his three seasons, the 6-foot-7 forward from Sandusky in Ohio has steadily improved. He averaged 12.5 points in his sophomore season, 16.3 in his junior year and 23.5 in his senior year. He was the consensus College Player Of The Year after his senior year.

Motion offense was the perfect fit for May’s jumper, and he was an underrated rebounder and defender, averaging 7.7 board as a senior.

Video: Scott May Highlights

Scott May Highlights

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