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The Grueling Truth - Where Legends Speak / Top 10 Most exciting players in Indiana Hoosier basketball history

Top 10 Most exciting players in Indiana Hoosier basketball history

Publish Date: 04/29/2023
Fact checked by: Simon Briffa

Top 10

This is not a top 10 player in IU basketball history, even though many of these players will be on that list. This is the top ten electric players every time they step on the floor.

10) Quinn Buckner

Buckner was a determined defender and averaged two thefts per game during his senior season (1975-1976), the first time official steals were kept. Isiah Thomas is the only Hoosier who has averaged two thefts per game during a single season.

He was also a great playmaker and continued to produce for others at a high rate. Buckner holds the school record for assists for 24 years and is still near the top of that list.

Buckner, a shaky shooter, was still a threat to produce in the transition. Many of these began from his lightning-quick hands.

Video: 1976 NCAA Final Four special

1976 NCAA Final Four special

 

9)Victor Oladipo

Oladipo seemed to be able to make a play every time he stepped onto the court. The Maryland native was a playmaker at the top of his game, whether it was making key steals, sinking shots, or putting down highlight-reel baskets. His ability to create transitions from turnovers and turn them into uncontested slams that threatened to blow the roof off Assembly Hall is a testament to his skill.

Video: Victor Oladipo highlights: NCAA tournament top plays

Victor Oladipo highlights: NCAA tournament top plays

8) Greg Graham

The 1989 Hoosiers’ recruiting class was regarded as one of the greatest. This is not only the best in Indiana but also the best anywhere at the time.

Calbert Cheaney, an unheralded star, was the group’s jewel, while Greg Graham, McDonald’s All-American shooting guard, was not far behind.

Graham was, according to coach Bob Knight, “a good shooter but a poor scorer when he arrived in Indiana.” Graham could score, harass and get above the rim, but his shooting needed to improve.

Graham was so successful in his senior year that he led the Big Ten in field goal and three-point percentages. Graham is still the only man to have achieved that feat. Graham became a star when forward Alan Henderson suffered a knee injury that cost him the end of the 1993 season; Graham went from being a player who never scored more than 25 in a game to one who would average 25 per night to make up the loss.

Video: Greg Graham: One of the Greatest Hoosiers of All Time #iubb

Greg Graham: One of the Greatest Hoosiers of All Time #iubb

7) Mike Woodson

Mike Woodson did not break any new ground scoring 2,000 points at Indiana. Don Schlundt had already achieved the feat a quarter-century ago. Despite this, Woodson could not play in half of his senior season due to back surgery.

He would have passed Schlundt if he had kept his 19.3-PPG score and played in the games missed. Woodson returned to Indiana and scored 20 points per game, leading the Hoosiers to the Big Ten title at the season’s end.

His performance in the late games was so impressive that he was named Big Ten MVP, and All-American despite a seven-week absence.

Woodson was capable of changing the game at either end of the court. He remains top 10 in school history in scoring and steals

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

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

6) George McGinnis

George McGinnis only played one season in Bloomington. He packed as much success into that time as anyone ever has.

Although McGinnis did not win a national championship, only four men have accomplished a feat: he led the Big Ten in scoring and rebounding during the same season. McGinnis averaged 30 points per game and had 15 rebounds. He helped the Hoosiers reach 17-7, but they missed out on an NCAA tournament berth because the team revolted against the head coach Lou Watson.

McGinnis was a formidable offensive rebounder and kept many possessions alive. He often scored off his teammates’ misses.

McGinnis’ physical gifts would have made him one of the most outstanding college players if he had been around for more than a year. If statistics from the 1970s were preserved, McGinnis’s combination of strength and skill might have been more evident. Just imagine if McGinnis had been around in 1973 and could have gotten along with Coach Knight.

Video: George McGinnis Hall of Fame Speech

George McGinnis Hall of Fame Speech

5) Jay Edwards

Edwards’ 1987-88 three-point percentage of.536 was the highest for a freshman at the time. He averaged 20 points per game the following season and earned All-America honors. Most importantly, he began to build a reputation for being a late-game assassin.

IU won the Big Ten title thanks to last-minute bombs that beat Michigan and Purdue. Edwards is one of the most respected pure shooters in Indiana. His.481 three-point percentage is still top 5 in school history. Edwards’.563 effective FG% speaks volumes about his efficiency.

If Edwards was in the game, the Hoosiers always had a chance.

Video: Greatest Seasons: 1989 Basketball - Indiana

Greatest Seasons: 1989 Basketball – Indiana

 

4) Steve Alford

Alford is known for his long-range smooth shooting. It is challenging to shoot 53 per cent field goal on long jumpers, so we should remember that Alford’s penetration and mid-range skills are underrated.

If the three-point shot had been introduced before Alford’s senior season, Alford would easily have surpassed 2,500 points. It was present in Alford’s final college appearance, the 1987 NCAA Championship game. Alford made seven three-pointers in keeping the Hoosiers within reach and set the stage for Keith Smart’s heroic shot.

Video: Big Ten Icons: #17 - Steve Alford

Big Ten Icons: #17 – Steve Alford

3) Calbert Chaney

Chaney Led the Hoosiers in scoring every season, making three All-America teams, and setting a career Big Ten scoring record. The only other Hoosiers to be first-team all-American in three years were Kent Benson and Don Schlundt.

Cheaney could score from any position, scoring nearly 56 per cent from the floor and 44 per cent from long distance. Cheaney was the clear leader among early-’90s Indiana teams that featured many offensive weapons, with 13 games of at least 30 points.

The entire game was played through Cheaney despite the availability of Damon Bailey, Greg Graham and Alan Henderson.

Video: Calbert Cheaney Segment

Calbert Cheaney Segment

2) Jimmy Rayl

Jimmy Rayl doesn’t have the name recognition of Pete Maravich or even fellow state-scoring legend Rick Mount. Still, he is a similar performer in that his career-point totals would have been tremendously boosted if he had benefited from the three-point line.

Rayl estimated that 60 per cent of his shots came from beyond 20 feet, and even that fraction would still constitute more baskets than most players make in their careers.

The Hoosier legend averaged 27.5 PPG as a junior and senior after barely contributing in his sophomore year. He remains the only Hoosier to break 50 points in a game, dropping 56 against Minnesota in 1962 and Michigan State the following year.

In the Minnesota game, he led a furious rally to force overtime, in which he coolly drained a 30-footer for the win. Against Michigan State, Rayl equaled his record with more than three minutes left to play, but coach Branch McCracken pulled him so as not to antagonize the routed Spartans.

Rayl recorded ten games of 35 points or more, three more than the program’s all-time scoring leader Don Schlundt.

Video: Remembering Jimmy Rayl's fantastic basketball life

Remembering Jimmy Rayl’s fantastic basketball life

1) Isiah Thomas

Isiah Thomas accomplished everything he could in only two seasons at Bloomington. He was a starter in every game he participated in. He was the team’s leading scorer twice and also set single-season steal and assist records that still stand at IU.

Thomas was the highlight of it all. He led the Hoosiers to a dominating NCAA tournament run that saw them defeat their opponents by an average of 22 points per game, en route to Bob Knight’s second title. Thomas was awarded the Final Four Most Outstanding Player award.

Thomas’ court vision and quickness led to him being inducted into the NBA Hall of Fame. But his determination made him stand out from the many more prominent players in college and the pros.

Fans of Hoosier could visit Assembly Hall to know that Isiah Thomas would be playing. They also saw a player willing to put his guts on the court, if necessary, to win.

Video: Isaiah Thomas (Basketball Documentary)

Isaiah Thomas (Basketball Documentary)

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