The Greatest IU Basketball Player of All-Time Bracket: Knight-Pre ’85 Round of 64

  • 03/24/2020 10:11 am in

Welcome back to the “Greatest IU Basketball Player of All-Time” tournament bracket, where Inside the Hall and Assembly Call teamed up to put together a field of 68 former Hoosiers who have left a tremendous impact on the Indiana basketball program.

Last Friday, voting took place for the play-in games of each region, and on Monday voting took place for the Round of 64 in the Pre-Knight era region.

Today, it’s time to vote in the Round of 64 in the Bob Knight-Pre 1985 region.

Among the factors to consider when voting:

– Impact on winning at IU
– Statistical achievement
– How they represented the program and university
– Qualitative impact on the culture and tradition of IU basketball overall

Remember, go to Inside the Hall’s Twitter account to vote on these matchups (the polls will also be embedded in this post once they go live), and you have 24 hours from when the polls go live to vote. The Round of 64 for the Bob Knight-Post 1985 region will take place tomorrow. (The updated bracket can be found at the bottom of the article.)

Today’s matchups are below:

No. 1 Scott May v No. 16 Jim Thomas

Scott May (1972-1976)

May was a standout player on some of the best teams in Indiana history. The forward was an integral part of the 1976 undefeated Indiana team which won the title after going 32-0, and he was recognized handsomely for his contributions. May averaged 23.5 points per game, 7.7 rebounds per game and shot 52.7 percent from the field during that championship season. He was named the NABC, Naismith, AP, Helms Foundation, Rupp and Sporting News National Player of the Year that season. A consensus All-American in both 1975 and 1976, May finished his IU career with 1,593 points (13th in IU history) and was drafted second overall in 1976 by the Chicago Bulls. He also won a gold medal with the United States in the 1976 Summer Olympics.

Jim Thomas (1979-1983)

Thomas defeated John Ritter in the play-in game. He served as the sixth man on Indiana’s 1981 National Championship team. Thomas’ role became pivotal in the title game against North Carolina after Ted Kitchel got into foul trouble. So, Thomas entered the game and snatched nine rebounds, which helped Indiana secure the 63-50 victory. His performance also made him a member of the 1981 Final Four All-tournament team. Thomas played at Indiana from 1979-83, then he played seven years in the NBA before taking up coaching, where he served briefly as an assistant at Indiana.

No. 8 Randy Wittman v No. 9 Bobby Wilkerson

Randy Wittman (1978-1983)

A three-year starter at guard for the Hoosiers, Wittman averaged better than 23 points per game and won three Big Ten titles with Indiana, including the 1981 national championship. Another former Indiana player in both the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame and the Indiana University Athletics Hall of Fame, Wittman was named on three occasions as a first team All-Big Ten player who, at the time of graduation, ranked eighth on the career scoring list (1,549), second on the career assists list (432) and third on the career steals list (128). Wittman was drafted in the first round of the 1983 NBA Draft and also enjoyed a long coaching career in the NBA.

Bobby Wilkerson (1973-1976)

Wilkerson was a starter on Indiana’s undefeated National Championship team in 1976, as well as the Big Ten title teams in 1974 and 1975. As a 6-foot-6 guard/forward out of Anderson, Indiana, Wilkerson was a versatile player for the Hoosiers. Bob Knight once said, “Bobby Wilkerson was the most valuable player I ever coached. He could guard anyone.” Wilkerson was inducted into the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame in 2012.

No. 5 Mike Woodson v No. 12 John Laskowski

Mike Woodson (1977-1980)

A high school All-American at Broad Ripple High School in Indianapolis, Woodson remains the fifth-leading scorer in Indiana history with 2,061 points. A NIT all-tournament team selection, a gold medalist at the Pan American Games, a Big Ten MVP and a two-time collegiate All-American during his college career, Woodson averaged nearly 20 points per game across 104 appearances for the Hoosiers. A career 50.5 percent shooter from the field, Woodson made the 1979 All-Big Ten team but never truly got to display his skills on the NCAA tournament stage, going 2-2 in the Big Dance across two appearances. A first-round NBA Draft pick, Woodson also had a healthy coaching career in the NBA from 1996 to 2018.

John Laskowski (1972-1975)

Nicknamed “Super Sub,” Laskowski averaged 10.8 points, 3.8 rebounds and 1.8 assists in 84 career games. He helped the Hoosiers win three straight Big Ten titles and advance to the Final Four in 1973. IU also won the Collegiate Commissioners Association title in 1974 and had an undefeated regular season before finishing with a 35-1 record in 1975. With IU’s sustained success as one of the top teams in the country, Laskowski became the first IU basketball player to appear on the cover of Sports Illustrated on February 3, 1975.

No. 4 Quinn Buckner v No. 13 Tom Abernethy

Quinn Buckner (1972-1976)

Buckner had a colorful athletic career in Bloomington, playing both basketball and football and getting drafted professionally in both sports. But it’s his contributions to the 1976 title team on the hardwood that is most remembered. He made an immediate impact as a freshman, averaging 10.8 points and nearly 5 rebounds per game as the Hoosiers reached the Final Four. He turned into a facilitator for his sophomore campaign, averaging 5.4 assists per game, and his junior season saw the best collegiate stats of his career as Buckner averaged 11.8 points, 3.8 rebounds and 5.5 assists per game. Buckner brought a strong sense of defense to the title-winning team, and he owns the rare distinction of winning a high school state title (in Illinois), a college title (at IU), an Olympic gold medal (with the United States) and an NBA title (with the Boston Celtics).

Tom Abernethy (1973-1976)

Abernethy was a starting forward on the 1976 undefeated national championship team and also played in the 1973 Final Four. He was a member of the 1974 Collegiate Commissioners Association title squad, and during his time at IU, the Hoosiers were 108-12 overall and 59-5 in the Big Ten. He averaged 5.4 points during his career on 53.3 percent shooting. He was inducted into the Indiana University Athletics Hall of Fame in 2015.

No. 6 Steve Green v No. 11 Ray Tolbert

Steve Green (1972-1975)

A small forward out of Silver Creek High School in Sellersburg, Indiana, Green was inducted into the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame in 1999. A third-team All-American in 1975, Green won three Big Ten titles and had NCAA tournament success, reaching a Final Four and an Elite Eight during his career. One of Bob Knight’s first recruits at Indiana, Green scored 1,265 points in his IU career and grabbed 413 rebounds in a college career that featured plenty of winning. Indiana went 76-12 with Green on the roster.

Ray Tolbert (1977-1981)

Tolbert was Indiana’s starting center every year that he played. Standing at 6-foot-9, Tolbert helped IU secure two Big Ten championships and the National Championship in 1981. He was also a gold medalist on the U.S. 1979 Pan American team. Tolbert was the 1981 Big Ten, as well as IU MVP. As the leading team rebounding in all four of his seasons, he still ranks in the top 20 on IU’s career scoring list with 1,427 points and sixth in rebounds with 874.

No. 3 Isiah Thomas v No. 14 Uwe Blab

Isiah Thomas (1979-1981)

The catalyst for Indiana’s 1981 national title and eventual No. 2 overall pick in the NBA Draft and 12-time NBA All-Star, Thomas made the most of his two seasons in Bloomington. As a freshman Thomas led Indiana in scoring (423 points), assists (159) and steals (62) while becoming the first freshman to be named to the AP All-Big Ten team. He was a captain of the 1980-81 team as a sophomore, improving his final statistical averages to 15.4 points per game, 5.7 assists per game and 3.5 rebounds per game as the Hoosiers went 26-9 and defeated North Carolina for the college championship. Thomas went on to win two NBA titles with the Detroit Pistons and spent time as the coach of the Indiana Pacers.

Uwe Blab (1981-1985)

Coming to the U.S., from Munich, Germany, Blab had a solid career with the Hoosiers. He averaged 16 points per game in his senior season with the Hoosiers. He helped them win the Big Ten championship in 1983 and then advance to the Elite Eight in the NCAA tournament in the following season. After his collegiate career with Indiana, he got drafted by the Dallas Mavericks in 1985. After spending a few years in the NBA, he moved back home to play professionally in Germany.

No. 7 Steve Downing v. No. 10 Ted Kitchel

Steve Downing (1970-1973)

A first-round draft pick in the 1973 NBA Draft, Downing remains one of the most athletic centers to ever wear the cream and crimson. His all-time statistics of 1,220 points (36th in program history) and 889 rebounds (5th in program history) have stood the test of time. He was an All-American in 1973, the same season in which Indiana reached the Final Four, and Downing was also the choice for Big Ten MVP in 1973. Downing averaged better than 17 points and 10 rebounds per game for his final two seasons and is a member of the Indiana High School Basketball and Indiana University Athletic halls of fame.

Ted Kitchel (1978-1983)

Kitchel had a rough start to his Indiana career as he only played in one game due to injury and watched from the sideline as the Hoosiers won the NIT in 1979. The next year Kitchel came off the bench for IU, then became a starter his third year, averaging 9.2 points and 3.3 rebounds on the 1981 national championship team. With two years left of eligibility because of the injury, Kitchel grew into a big offensive role as he averaged 19.6 and 17.3 points, respectively, in his final two seasons. He was named All-Big Ten and All-American in both of those final years as the Hoosiers went to the NCAA tournament.

No. 2 Kent Benson v. No. 15 Landon Turner

Kent Benson (1974-1977)

Recent health problems have plagued the 6-foo-10 Benson, who will be forever remembered for his role on the 1975-1976 title-winning Hoosiers. Benson arrived at IU after a storied career at New Castle High School, where he scored nearly 1,500 points, had almost 1,600 rebounds and was named Indiana’s Mr. Basketball in 1973. As a sophomore, Benson and the 1974-1975 Hoosiers reached the Elite Eight, and one year later Benson was an All-American and was named the Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four when the Hoosiers won the NCAA title (Benson scored 25 points in the championship game). He ended his IU career with 1,740 points, still ninth in school history, and was the No. 1 overall pick in the 1977 NBA Draft.

Landon Turner (1978-1981)

Turner started in 43 games out of the 92 total games that he played in. He tallied 688 points and 348 total rebounds during his career with the Hoosiers. His best season was his junior year in 1981 when the Hoosiers won the national title. Turner put up career-highs in all statistical categories that season, including points, rebounds, assists, field goal percentage, free-throw percentage and minutes played. Unfortunately, that season would be the end of his basketball career as he got into a car accident in July of 1981, which left Turner paralyzed from the chest down. One of his former teammates Steve Risley said, “If Landon had been able to play for his senior year, he’d have been one of the top three players in the NBA draft.”

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