The University of Arizona

100-plus Years of UA Basketball

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Arizona's first basketball All-American Roger Johnson (left) with longtime Wildcat head coach Fred A. Enke.

 

  From Pop to Lute: 100 Years of Wildcat Hoops


By Scott Barker
Tucson Lifestyle Magazine
(atricle originally appeared in the November 2003 issue)

 

George Kalil, president of Kalil Bottling and long-time U of A men’s basketball fan sums up the history of the b-ball program in one succinct comment: “We’ve had it so good for so long that most people probably don’t realize how rare the basketball experience in Tucson has been.”


Stop people on the street and ask them about the Wildcat basketball team, and most will talk about our 1997 National Championship win, or mention players like Sean Elliott or Steve Kerr who’ve gone on to great success in the NBA, and the mathematically inclined may recall Coach Lute Olson’s amazing 499-147 UA win-loss record.

That’s what we think of when we picture Wildcat basketball: fast break scoring, high-flying slam dunks and point guards whose uncanny ball-handling skills look like a circus act.

  But few Tucsonans realize that the program has had a history of success that dates back 100 years, to tiny gyms and contests against Morenci and Bisbee YMCA teams, when centers were 6’3”, and there was a jump ball in the middle of the court after every basket. Even before they were called the Wildcats, the student-athletes circa 1914 had a secret weapon in their coach, the unlikely athletic powerhouse named James Fred “Pop” McKale.

The story of how the Cats clawed their way to the top plays out like a John Ford movie, filled with larger-than-life characters, moments of high drama, a touch of tragedy, and proof that a community can unite behind a man and his dream.

A Canadian, A Peach Basket & A Soccer Ball

It’s hard to believe, but once upon a time there were no $200 Air Jordan shoes, no seven-foot athletes, and a gym the size of McKale would have served no purpose, since team sports were played outdoors.

Then, in Springfield, Massachusetts, a 5’10” educator from Almonte, Ontario, Canada, named James Naismith, was given the assignment in 1891 of developing a game that could be played indoors at Springfield College because the fierce winters in that part of the U.S. did not lend themselves to sports alfresco.

After trying unsuccessfully to play football indoors (where the contact on the hard floors resulted in broken bones), soccer (outcome: broken windows), and lacrosse (busted equipment), the intelligent and physically skilled teacher recalled a game he used to play called “duck on the rock,” involving throwing a stone at a stack of rocks to knock one off. It occurred to him that if he devised a sport based on this principle of finesse as opposed to brute force, he might have something that wouldn’t trash the gym or the players.

Using equipment at hand — a soccer ball and peach baskets, nailed 10 feet up in the gym — he developed 13 simple rules for the game that was originally known as “Basket Ball.” These rules laid down the basic elements of the contest (i.e., “The ball may be thrown in any direction with one or both hands”), and detailed what would be considered a foul (“No shouldering, holding, pushing, tripping or striking in any way the person of an opponent shall be allowed.”)

When the U of A began playing basketball in 1904, with Orin Albert Cates (some records list him as “Kates”) as a coach, and teams drawn from local YMCAs as opponents, the game hadn’t changed all that much. It was just as the good Dr. Naismith (he earned a medical degree in 1898) envisioned it: a game of strategy that favored hand and eye coordination over raw strength.

Pictures of the Arizona basketball players from the earliest days reveal young men in football pants and sleeveless undershirts, who, though quite fit, would clearly lose an arm-wrestling match with the muscular jocks of today. Basketball was pretty much a static game at that time, a half-court contest that centered on passing the ball to whoever had the best angle on the basket. There was no dribbling, no dunks, no cheerleaders, no Dick Vitale, just two 15-minute halves of dishing and shooting, with a five-minute break between. The first game Arizona played ended in a whopping 40-32 victory over the Morenci YMCA.

A Man Called Pop

It’s hard to imagine where U of A athletics would be today if it were not for Pop McKale. When he was lured away from a teaching and coaching job at Tucson High School in 1914 to take over the directorship of UA’s athletics program, there was already a tradition of winning, but McKale took things to a new level, posting a 9-0 record his first season as a basketball coach. It’s oft been reported that round ball was Pop’s least favorite sport, but he chalked up three undefeated seasons, and a career-winning average of .803, which has never been bested by a UA coach who has held the post for at least three years.

In those pre-conference years, basketball games were played at tiny Herring Hall in the UA campus. In a 1996 interview with Tucson Lifestyle, the late Roy Drachman recalled the facility, which was where the KUAT studios are today. “Because the hall was so small, it could only seat about 50 people at one end. There was no out of bounds on the side because the court was right up against both walls! It just barely fit in the building.”

Major games were played in the City Armory, which became the sole court for UA b-ball from 1922 until 1925 when Bear Down Gym was opened up. Another transition took place during this time, too. Pop gave up the coaching reins in 1921 so that he could focus on football and baseball, and the job went to James H. “Jumbo” Pierce, who racked up an impressive 10-2 record, including two defeats of USC. One of his star players was Harold Tovrea, who had the distinction of a scoring average of 15.8 points (huge for that time), and records indicate he is quite likely the first UA basketball player to rack up 1,000 career points.

Rhymes With Ink

In what is certainly one of the most bizarre chapters in UA sports history, Pierce caught the acting bug and relocated to Tinseltown, where he starred as Tarzan in several silent films. He was replaced by Basil Stanley, who posted good numbers (17-3 his first season; 14-3 his next) before being replaced by Walter Davis, whose abbreviated season (11 games) was only 7-4.

After the hiring of Pop McKale, the most significant moment in UA basketball history was the appointment of Fred A. Enke to the position of head coach. Jon Alquist, who recently retired after many years working in the UA Athletics Department, states, “Under Fred Enke, the basketball program became probably the first UA sport to receive national recognition.”

Enke took over in 1925, squeaked through a dismal 6-7 first season, and then quickly gained speed, jumping up to 13-4 the next year. More importantly, when Arizona joined the brand new Border Conference in 1931, he posted an 18-2 season and took the conference championship, beating teams such as Pomona, Arizona State (then known as Arizona State Teachers College at Tempe) and New Mexico State. They came in first again the following year, and took second place in the conference in 1933-34. Although Enke’s teams experienced their share of losses, in his 36-year career he averaged better than a 60 percent win-loss record, and racked up 509 victories, making him the winningest coach in UA history. Under Enke, Arizona won 11 Border Conference championships, and beat out all the other teams in the conference in terms of the number of total league wins (an amazing 231).

And if that doesn’t whip your head around faster than a no-look pass, consider his 81-game winning streak in Bear Down Gym.

 

Tell The Team To Bear Down

Many in the Old Pueblo have never seen the Cats play in any venue other than McKale Memorial Center, but once upon a time, Bear Down Gym was not only the team’s home, but one of the great sports venues in this part of the country.

Completed in 1926, the gym was first used for a b-ball game in 1927. “At that time, it was the largest and best on-campus, basketball facility in probably the entire West,” Jon Alquist notes. “Most of the larger arenas on the West Coast were municipal-type courts — they weren’t on campus. None of the colleges that you think of now as having big facilities — Stanford, Cal, UCLA, USC – had anything comparable to Bear Down Gym. It was a showcase in the Western United States.”

The name of the facility, of course, is part of the U of A tradition of creating legends. John “Button” Salmon, a football/baseball star with the Cats, was gravely injured in a car accident in October 1926. While dying in the hospital, he allegedly beseeched Pop McKale to “tell the team to bear down.”

Though the story has been disputed over the years, no one can deny that this popular phrase, which was given even more authority when UA Band Director Jack Lee wrote the school fight song “Bear Down Arizona” in 1952, is a rousing piece of athletic history.

The Wildcats Sharpen Their Claws

As hard as the Great Depression was on America, impacting virtually every area of life, World War II presented its own set of challenges and tragic circumstances. George Genung was a member of the “lost” class — the one that was supposed to graduate in 1944 — before Dec. 7, 1941 changed everything for his generation. A Tucson High graduate, he was able to earn letters in basketball and baseball at the U of A, before being drafted into the Army and sent overseas to fight under “Blood & Guts” Gen. George S. Patton. At a time when he should have been working on his jump shot, he was keeping his head down in foxholes around Europe, until at last his division was sent home. “I was glad to get back,” he remarks in his quiet, unassuming way. “I didn’t think much of shooting anybody, or anybody shooting me.”

Playing as both a center and a forward from 1942 to 1947, he was a member of three Border Conference championship squads, and was a two-time team captain. From 1943-44 he led the team with a points-per-game average of 13.6. “I played 14 games for Coach Enke that season and was captain of the team,” Genung recalls. “That was the only time I ever had a decent average because (star player) Vince Cullen had graduated so I got to shoot more.” Incidentally, while in the service and on leave, he donned a uniform several times to play in UA basketball games. “I don’t think the NCAA would go for that now,” he says with a chuckle.

Genung — who earned an astounding 10 letters as a Wildcat, and went on to a highly successful career as a coach for Amphitheater High School — has the distinction of having played with several UA legends, including Lincoln Richmond, the school’s only six-year letterman, and Mo Udall, a future congressman and candidate for the Democratic nomination for President.

“Mo was my buddy and we ran around together,” Genung recalls. “He lived in the basement of the infirmary, which was where they used to put up some of the students during the war.”

The two had a number of adventures together, including traveling on road trips in a beat-up old bus to out-of-town games. Conditions on the vehicle were rather cramped, and it was tough to get a good seat, so players were reluctant to get out when the bus made a pit stop. The scramble to keep a comfortable spot got a little out of hand during a trip to play UTEP in El Paso. Udall — who was a talented athlete despite having only one eye as the result of a childhood accident — had exited the bus to get a beverage, and in his zeal to return to his seat, made an effort to dive in through a window. “Morris Udall came flying through the half-open window with a soda pop in his hand,” Genung recalls, “and took a semi-circle piece out of the window with his knee.” Needless to say, Coach Enke wasn’t amused.

One of the highlights of Genung’s UA career was playing in Madison Square Garden at the National Invitation Tournament (NIT) against Kentucky. The Garden, famous as a sports venue, was anything but glamorous back then. “There were 18,000 people there, and I think 14,000 of them were smoking,” Genung recalls. “There were two bands up there, but I never did see them because it was so smoky. It was hard to breathe after a while. I didn’t want the coach to take me out, so I just suffered the whole game.”

The Golden Years

The team’s winning touch certainly didn’t suffer during those post-war years. They were among the best seasons that UA basketball teams have ever put together. “Shortly after the war — 1946-51 — Arizona won six straight conference championships,” Alquist says. “And they did it almost completely with kids from Arizona schools. A majority of them, if not all, were war veterans. Some had even been on the team before the war. They were pretty old by today’s standards. But they dominated the Rocky Mountain Southwest area, made annual trips to the East Coast and beat some of the top teams back there. They made one trip where they played Duquesne (and lost by two points), West Virginia (won by one point), and beat CCNY (41-38) in a famous game in Madison Square Garden. During those years, basketball was the sport with which Arizona was identified.”

A number of the U of A’s top cagers came out of this era. Forward Leon Blevins was an all-Border Conference team athlete twice; Hillard “Junior” Crum played on four consecutive conference championship teams as well as in UA’s first-ever post-season NIT game; Fred W. Enke (son of the team’s coach) racked up 18 points in the famous NIT game against Kentucky, and was a three-time All-Border Conference selection (a multi-sport athlete, he went on to play football for the Detroit Lions); Bob Honea led the team in scoring for 1950-51 with a 12.8 points-per-game average; and Roger Johnson was the school’s first All-American basketball player, and later was drafted by the NBA.

“A lot of people don’t understand just how good Arizona basketball was under Enke because the game was so different then,” notes Richard Paige, UA’s associate director of media relations. “For example, only eight to 16 teams nationally played in the NCAA tournament. The NIT, although it was the premier tournament at the time, was still dominated by the East Coast just because it was far easier travel-wise for those teams to get there. For Coach Enke to do the kind of things that he did to win more than 500 games and 12 conference championships and take us to four post-season appearances, we were as good as any basketball program in the Western half of the United States.”

A Cold War ... And A Cold Team

It’s tempting to remember the 1950s as being all about duck tails and leather jackets, Harley Earl’s amazing designs for Chevrolet, and doo-wop songs on the jukebox. The reality was that from 1950 through 1953, we were fighting a bloody and enervating war in Korea, and Washington waged a daily battle of words with Moscow.

The Wildcats seemed to fall prey to the miasma that was choking the country. From the 1951-52 season on, the yearly stats were less than stellar, and we failed to dominate the Border Conference as we once had. “Following the 1951 season, the program went into limbo,” remarks Alquist. “Enke wasn’t interested in recruiting that much. He kind of thought that kids in the state owed it to play for the U of A, and he wasn’t inclined to go much out of state for players. These days, if you get a good Arizona kid on the team it’s a rarity.

“Prior to that we didn’t have much competition from Arizona State College. They were considered more of a minor program, and then they started to expand toward a full university status, and they became more active in recruiting the better in and out of state players.”

In fairness to Coach Enke, the game had come a long way since he first began coaching in the 1920s. Players were bigger, stronger, more athletic. Scores were doubling (during the 1953-54 season for example, Arizona narrowly lost to Arizona State in overtime, 103-104), and the once state-of-the-art Bear Down Gym just wasn’t big enough to accommodate the needs of the athletes or the fans.

Perhaps the most telling point about the gym was the game against Long Island University in 1951 that was attended by 4,600 screaming fans, about 1,000 more than were supposed to be allowed into the facility.

The writing was on the wall in the 1950s: the U of A’s program needed something special to snap its descent into mediocrity.

Monsoon Clouds, And A Little Sunshine

Even in the midst of some dreary seasons, Arizona managed to show the nation a thing or two. From 1953-55, forward Hadie Redd was a top scorer for the team, becoming a two-time All-Border Conference selection, and the first African American letter winner for the U of A.

Also, Arizona finally acknowledged that its basketball program needed more help, and hired the first full-time assistant coach — former UA Basket Cat Bruce Larson. “That shows how backward the program was before then,” comments Jon Alquist. “The assistants Enke had, even during the time that we had great teams, were just part time, and some were other members of the athletic staff, like Frank Sancet, the legendary baseball coach, or they were ex-players.”

Larson knew the school and the program, and he was quickly groomed to replace Fred Enke, who retired in 1961. Another huge change took place in the same time period when Pop McKale stepped down in 1957. His contributions as athletic director for more than four decades, and as the school’s first outstanding b-ball coach, cannot be overstated.

“Pop McKale was a highly successful basketball coach here,” remarks Richard Paige. “He won more than 80 percent of his games, had three undefeated seasons, including a winning streak that lasted 21 games. He set the tone for Arizona excellence across the board, and every one of our athletic achievements can be traced to him. He was good at everything he did, whether it was baseball, football, basketball, administration ... there was a reason why Pop was a legend, and why his name is on the building. He was that special of a person.”

Not-so-special was our affiliation with the Border Conference, which by 1961 Arizona had definitely outgrown. The school joined the new Western Athletic Conference (WAC) and struggled a bit at first. Though we beat teams like BYU, Utah and USC within the first few years, we didn’t post the best numbers the school had ever seen, and we never went to the post season in the 11 years (1961-1972) that Larson led the team.

Still, Alquist is quick to give the coach his props. “Larson made good progress toward getting the program back on its feet, and he had some teams that contended for the WAC title. At that time the conference was very strong — teams like New Mexico, Utah, Wyoming. Although Arizona never won a WAC title, they were competitive. Several times, a game here or there might have made a difference.”

One of the coach’s star players was guard Warren Rustand, who was the U of A’s first Academic All-American, and the only player to ever lead UA in free throw and field goal percentage for three consecutive years. His career free-throw percentage was an eye-popping .814, and it’s no surprise that the NBA snapped him up in the 1965 draft. The renowned athlete-turned-entrepreneur later went on to serve in President Gerald Ford’s administration as the White House scheduling director.

The Fox Is In The House

To most Tucsonans who’ve been around the Old Pueblo 40 years or more, the history of UA basketball greatness begins with Fred Snowden. Nicknamed “the Fox,” the magnetic coach with the hip clothes and Afro hairstyle was just the guy to inject new energy into a program that needed it as much as wildflowers need rain.

Snowden had been recruited by new UA Athletic Director Dave Strack and college President John P. Schaefer. McKale Center was already being built, and it was more or less Strack’s job to fill the 13,658-seat facility (which is now 14,545 seats). He knew about Snowden — a standout high school basketball coach from the Detroit area — and realized his potential for the U of A not only as a great leader, but also as a symbol that the 1970s would be a new decade. “Snowden broke a lot of barriers,” remarks Jon Alquist. “He was the first African American head basketball coach at a major university.”

He was someone who didn’t come up through the ranks of the program created by Pop McKale and Fred Enke, and he brought in fresh ideas of what UA basketball could be. His very first season (1972-73) he posted a 16-10 record, guided the team to second in the WAC, and broke in McKale Center with a rout of Wyoming, 87-69.

“He really shook everybody up,” enthuses Alquist. “The team had a dynamic offense. They were up and down the floor. They set school records for shooting and scoring and everything under the sun and had people really excited. The first year they missed winning the WAC title by one game.”

Snowden’s recruiting efforts drew on schools he was familiar with around Detroit, Chicago, and Gary, Indiana, and he pulled together a group that people still speak of reverentially today — the “Kiddie Korps.” Because the NCAA had ruled that freshmen were eligible to compete in athletics, coaches like Snowden saw the potential in having a team comprised of guys like Herman Harris, Coniel “Popcorn” Norman and Eric Money, who were untested in college competition, but had skill and energy to spare.

Although the staff of the U of A athletics department had seen its share of talented coaches over the years, Snowden was probably the first one to become a bona fide celebrity. He had his own TV sports show and an enthusiastic following, for which he may or may not have been prepared.

He also made citywide heroes of young players who became known for a vastly entertaining style of play where last-second wins were not uncommon. But not everyone who played for the Fox has been properly recognized. “The Fred Snowden era, that’s probably the point in the Arizona timeline where more really good-to-great players get overlooked than in any other time period,” says Richard Paige. “All the people who played for Enke, they sort of get their historical due, but guys like Bob Elliot, Joe Nehls, Popcorn Norman, Eric Money, Russell Brown, Al Fleming or Larry Demic, those guys, for some reason, have a tendency to be more overlooked.”

Russell Brown and Larry Demic should definitely be on many fans’ lists as players who made a big difference in the Snowden years. “Brown still holds the school records for single-game assists, season assists and career assists,” observes Alquist. “He was the unique, pure point guard. He could make some of the most spectacular no-look, blind passes. He never averaged more than 5 points per game, but talk about a guy who could run the offense. He was a classic.”

Unlike Kiddie Korps members like Eric Money, Larry Demic didn’t make much of an impact at first. “This was a guy who was kind of a journeyman player until late in his junior season, and then he just blossomed his senior year,” says Alquist. “I think he had a 34- or 36-point game in Pauley Pavilion against UCLA. He was a consummate shot blocker. He really didn’t get credit for them all. I remember one game we played in El Paso. He was swatting balls all over the gym, and when the stats came out, he was credited with one or two blocks. I got the tape of the game, re-scored it myself, and came up with nine or 10 blocks. He was a guy who went from being sort of a marginal player as a junior to an NBA draftee who played pro ball in the NBA.

“Jim Rappis was another overlooked one. He was kind of the glue that held the team together. A point guard, defensive player, role player — a guy who just fit in anywhere. Not the kind of player who gets the all-conference type recognition, but one of the ones who’s so key to the team’s success.”

From A Bang To A Whimper

Round up 10 UA basketball fans who followed the games during the decade that Fred Snowden coached and ask them what went wrong in the end, and you’ll probably get 10 different answers. Maybe the pressure of his celebrity was too much; maybe he lost some of his passion for the game; maybe he was just out-recruited by other, bigger programs.

 

The fact is that the coach took his team into the NCAA tournament in 1976, the first time in 25 years that had happened for UA. Arizona beat UNLV 114-109, and then lost to UCLA. It was a disappointing defeat, but the next year we had another top-ranked team, and Cat fans had every reason to be hopeful.

 

We didn’t win the WAC title that year, however, and we never returned to the Final Four under Snowden’s leadership. “It’s kind of a mystery as to what happened to his program,” Alquist admits. “As we entered the 1980s, it was clear that he just wasn’t able to keep up that initial level of competitiveness. Interest was dropping, his last few teams were not very good, and were not even competitive in the Pac-10 (which we joined in 1978), although there were occasional big victories here and there. Everyone was looking forward to USC and UCLA coming in here, and we beat them in two very exciting games. That was kind of the highlight. When we went over there, they blew us out.”

 

A Blessing In Disguise?

Snowden’s last year as head coach at the U of A ended with a lamentable 9-18 overall record (4-14 in the Pac-10). But if Cat watchers thought it couldn’t get any worse, they were wrong.

 

Athletic Director Dave Strack brought in Ben Lindsey to replace Fred Snowden, and on the surface, it seemed like a reasonable move. After all, Snowden hadn’t had any college coaching experience prior to the U of A, but he had leaped out of the box with both guns blazing. Lindsey had junior college expertise, having had a successful career at Grand Canyon University, where he won two national titles. And, as Alquist notes, “That’s a lower level of competition, but you have to consider that big college coaches can be successful because they can recruit big time players. At the level of the junior schools, in my opinion, the difference is coaching, because the players are all pretty equal.”

 

So in theory, Lindsey’s coaching acumen should have served him well at the U of A, but that definitely wasn’t the case. His overall record was 4-24, with only one Pac-10 win.

 

“The team was worse than awful,” Alquist states, “they were dreadful. So the question is, what happened to Lindsey when he came to the U of A where he should have been able to apply his skills? Maybe the step up was too much. Who knows?”

 

It didn’t help his tenuous standing in the community that there were rumors swirling around about his off-court antics that may have caused some parents to think twice about sending their kids to The University of Arizona to get an education. Clearly, he had to go.

Oddly enough, his one-season career at UA may have helped the program enormously.

 

“In my sort of jaundiced opinion, the greatest thing that ever happened to U of A sports was the hiring of Ben Lindsey,” notes Alquist. “I think that was probably Strack’s last important decision. If Lindsey had not been such a complete and utter flop, he might have stayed around for a couple of years, and Lute Olson would never have entered the picture.”

 

A Silver-Haired Wizard Appears

There may be very little that Wildcat fans don’t know about Basketball Hall of Famer Robert “Lute” Olson; he’s as popular around these parts as a two-scoop cone on a hot summer day. Even when he first arrived to take over the UA program, the North Dakota native was a familiar face to all who feverishly follow college hoops.

 

A multi-sport jock in high school, he excelled at basketball, taking his team to the North Dakota State Championship in 1952. After playing for Augsburg College in Minneapolis (where he was the school’s all-time leader in steals), he launched his career in high school coaching, leading teams in Minnesota and Southern California before landing at Long Beach City College in 1969. His LBCC teams won three Metro Conference titles, as well as the Junior College State Championship in 1971.

 

But, as we all know, Olson was just getting warmed up. He took over at Long Beach State for a 24-2 season, and then moved on to the University of Iowa, where he became the winningest coach in that school’s history, capturing the Big Ten Championship in 1979, and playing in the Final Four in 1980.

 

One of the things that certainly impressed UA Athletic Director Cedric Dempsey about Olson was how he had turned Iowa’s program around in a very short time. The Wildcats needed someone experienced and sure-handed at the throttle to rev up the team and get them to play at their full potential — and sooner, not later.

 

“Dempsey pulled the coup of the century by getting Olson to come to the U of A,” Alquist understates. “The first year, he got the program back on its feet, within two years made it to post-season play, and within three won a Pac-10 title.”

 

The Building of a Dynasty

It can never be said that Coach Olson doesn’t love a challenge. When he took over the UA basketball program, it was in worse shape than motorcycle daredevil Evel Knievel after his Caesar’s Palace crash. “I knew we had a tremendous amount of work to do,” Olson recalled in a recent interview with Tucson Lifestyle. “The program was in shambles at that point, after the terrible year before. Attendance was a problem because we weren’t marketing what we were trying to do. I think any time you go in as a coach you think it’s probably going to take you four to five years to turn it around. After seeing how far down this program was, we were all sort of wondering if we could get it done in that length of time.”

 

History records how hard he had to work that first year. The team posted an 8-10 record in the Pac-10, but managed to beat teams like Oregon, Oregon State, ASU, USC and Stanford. For a rebuilding year, it was mighty impressive, especially the 69-58 Wildcat mauling of the Beavers, which found the UA freshmen and junior college transfer players performing like champions, hitting 25 of 35 field goal attempts; this .714 field goal percentage still stands as a school record. And the same season, the Cats beat ASU 71-49, in a game that is perhaps best remembered because guard Steve Kerr had just lost his father — the president of American University in Beirut, Lebanon — a few days earlier to an assassin. Kerr bravely took the court and played a solid 25 minutes, leaving the floor finally with 12 points and a standing ovation.

 

The next year, the public definitely caught on that there was magic happening in McKale Center, and when the Cats clashed with Oregon State again — chewing them up 67-52 — the arena recorded its first sellout crowd. Fans had plenty to cheer about that season: a 21-10 overall record, defeats of ASU, California, UCLA, Washington, Washington State, and Stanford, and a tie for third place in the Pac-10.

 

A Shot At The Title

Although Olson’s projection for turning things around may have initially been set at the five-year mark, his teams didn’t wait that long to show their greatness. In 1986, the U of A silenced the skeptics by being crowned Valley Bank Fiesta Bowl Champions, posting a record of 23-9 overall, and demonstrating to the other schools in the conference that there was a new sheriff in town. The coach recalls that season as one of his most memorable.

 

“When we won our Pac-10 championship with a very young team, that was meaningful, because it showed the changing of the guard,” he comments. It wasn’t lost on anyone that the final victory occurred on enemy turf, with an 88-76 dust-up of UCLA. Said Steve Kerr at the time, “Pauley Pavilion used to be the toughest place to play. UCLA used to be the toughest team in the league. Now the toughest place to play is in Tucson, and the toughest team to play is in Tucson.”

 

The Cats also played in the NCAA Tournament, and Olson was chosen as the Pac-10 Coach of the Year. Kerr, Sean Elliott and Coach Olson added to their victories that summer; Lute coached the 1986 World Championship Basketball team, which along with the two aforementioned Wildcat players included the likes of David “The Admiral” Robinson.

 

The year that followed saw Arizona play in the NCAA Tournament again, finish second in the conference, and gear up for what was to be an amazing 1987-88 season, which included taking the Great Alaska Shootout championship, the Valley Bank Fiesta Bowl Classic championship, the Pac-10 championship, and even making it to the Final Four. Finally, Tucsonans had hope that their basketball program could really earn the title of the best in the nation.

 

Another Run At It

Olson had firmly established UA’s dominance of the Pac-10. Over and over again, the Cats finished first or second in the conference, and in 1994 (the same year that Jim Livengood took over as UA athletic director), they returned to the Final Four. Under the backcourt leadership of future NBA players Khalid Reeves and Damon Stoudamire, the Cats used their quickness and shooting proficiency to advance through the tournament, even upsetting highly favored Missouri 92-72. Alas, a national championship was not to be, but Cat supporters were confident that we would make it back to the big show, and in 1997, UA did just that. With Mike Bibby, A.J. Bramlett, Bennett Davison, Eugene Edgerson and Donnell Harris, this super-charged version of the Wildcats did something no one in the country had ever done: beat three No. 1 seeded teams to take the national title.

 

It was certainly a season that no Cat fancier can forget. The rest of the NCAA basketball world was stunned; Tucson was elated, turning out in droves to celebrate the victory (a party that got out of bounds, with a near-riot breaking out on Fourth Avenue, which fortunately did little to diminish what the team and the coach had accomplished.)

It’s perhaps inevitable that once a town tastes victory that sweet, it’s hard to settle for anything less than the whole cake with all three layers of frosting. But although the team consistently went to the NCAA Tournament, and held impressive records between 1998 and 2000, fans were clamoring for another Final Four fix.

 

A New Millennium, A Hard Year

Officially, 2001 was the start of the new Millennium. It was also one of the most challenging years in UA basketball history. Lute Olson’s wife Bobbi, well known to players and fans alike as a steadfast presence on the sidelines, lost her battle with cancer.

 

The team, which had been a preseason pick by many to go all the way, had to soldier on without its commander for three long weeks. After Lute returned from bereavement leave, the Cats vowed to pick up the pace and dedicate their season to Bobbi. How well they lived up to their vow is extraordinary. With guard Jason Gardner, center Loren Woods and forward Michael Wright — each an All-American — leading the way, the Cats ripped their opponents to ribbons, beating Oregon 104-65, devastating USC 105-61, and charging through the Final Four like a hungry feline after a napping lizard. They took down Eastern Illinois, Butler, Mississippi, Illinois, and Michigan State ... only to be stopped by Duke in the last game.

 

Lute Gets His Due

Though the U of A had won the National Championship in 1997, and came this close to taking the title again in 2001, the man who was responsible for getting the team there had to wait until 2002 to be recognized for all his achievements. That’s when Lute Olson was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, joining the ranks of such b-ball greats as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Meadowlark Lemon, and Nancy Lieberman (whose credits include winning a silver medal in the 1976 Olympics, playing for the Phoenix Mercury and coaching the Detroit Shock). At the time, Olson remarked that it was “the crowning achievement of a career,” which sounded to some like retirement talk.

 

Fortunately, that was not the case, and the wily Cat wrangler returned for a 2002-2003 season that saw the Cats — led by Luke Walton (now with the Lakers) and Jason Gardner (named to six All-America teams) again take the Pac-10 title, win 28 games, and return to the NCAA tournament for the 19th year — the longest active streak of its kind in the nation. The big story that year, notes Richard Paige, “would probably be Luke Walton’s reoccurring ankle injury. That’s sort of the nature of the Arizona basketball program — for the second time in three years we were expected to be a serious national championship contender. One of three or four teams that could win it.” Injuries may have kept us from claiming the title, but with returning players like Isaiah Fox and Channing Frye, and new recruits like 6’10” Kirk Walters, there definitely is reason to be hopeful for the 2003-2004 season.

 

A B-Ball Revolution

The game has come a long way since Dr. Naismith channeled the divine muse by creating a simple, yet endlessly evolving, sport with two peach baskets and a soccer ball. In the time of Coach Pop McKale, no one could have imagined that one day there would be giants playing b-ball, high-flying men so powerful that their assault on the basket would shatter backboards and knock hoops to the floor. Players like Michael Jordan literally brought the game to new heights; in the beginning, basketball players rarely left their feet except to rebound, or for a jump ball. Now it’s aerial combat, with guards elevating for three-pointers, forwards sailing well above the rim to jam, and centers using their long legs and fearsome reach to pick the ball from the sky.

 

The trouble with all this progress toward improved athletic prowess is that college players don’t stick around long anymore. They’re too good too fast. “Before, you could recruit a player and expect four years to build and develop,” says Richard Paige. “Now that’s changed to two years. You can’t expect a great player to be in the program longer than that. And that’s changed the game a great deal because it forces you to continually go for the best players out there at every position. You can’t just sign a great guard and think in two or three years you’ll sign another one. You sign a guard one year, and look for another the next year. You have to continually build, as opposed to focus on one area one year, and another the next.”

 

The competition to sign top players is tougher than a bar full of Marines. Getting the best student-athletes to commit, and stay in the program, requires not only skill, but a certain amount of gambler’s luck. Just this year, the U of A recruited — and lost to the Minnesota Timberwolves — forward Ndudi Ebi. Notes Coach Olson, “People say, ‘Well, you get that scholarship money back to offer to someone else.’ Yes, but by then, all the good players are taken.”

 

The pressures on student-athletes today are, in many ways, much greater than those on their peers 30, 40 or 50 years ago. Media coverage has altered the nature of the sport.

 

“Guys who played under Fred Enke, for example, Roger Johnson, our first All-American, could probably expect to go to class somewhat anonymously,” notes Richard Paige. “When Channing Frye walks into class, everybody knows who he is.” And he’s not just famous at the U of A, but nationwide. Due to increased broadcasting of college hoops, basketball fans, players and coaches all over the country can closely follow their favorites, as well as their opponents. If UA’s star center tears his Achilles tendon, or has problems with his academic requirements and loses his spot on the team, it’s no secret to anyone.

 

The lure of big money also has changed the game. The U of A has prepared many players for the pro ranks since Mo Udall was drafted by the Denver Nuggets in 1948, but only relatively recently has a b-ball career been so dazzlingly lucrative (factoring in endorsement deals), that the notion of staying in school versus accepting millions to play basketball is a real Hobson’s Choice. Coach Olson points out, however, that remaining in school for a year or two can make a significant difference in a player’s earning potential, since college is where a player learns, and hones, his knowledge of game fundamentals, and where he has the best opportunity to show off his skills to agents and team owners. “A one- or two-year investment in college can be worth millions to an athlete,” he observes.

 

Predictions, Anyone?

It’s always risky to guess where the Cats, or any team, will end up on the march to the Final Four. There are so many factors to consider, including injuries, and improved play on the part of rival schools. Nevertheless, the program has been very consistent under Olson’s direction, and even though the team has only two seniors on the roster, Cat fans can expect an explosive, exciting kind of play, with more than one standout in the pack. “Our team has always been pretty well-balanced, with four or five players in double figures,” notes Lute. “We get asked all the time, ‘Who’s the go-to guy?’ Well, the open guy is the go-to guy.”

 

The U of A’s Hall of Fame coach is humble in his estimation of himself, and quick to give others the credit they deserve. And though he is reluctant to single out one player or position that will be most important to success this season, he comments, “If you look back through the history of NCAA basketball, the one thing that you usually notice is that on winning teams there’s a perimeter player who makes everybody else better. There have been a lot of teams with good big men that have not won games unless they had an equally good guard with them. The inside guys do a tremendous job ... but it’s hard to win a national title without good guards.”

Geno Auriema, the preternaturally skilled coach of UConn’s women’s basketball program, has observed that his mentors taught him, “There are only two good plays — South Pacific, and put the ball in the basket.” Ultimately, no matter what players or plays you have, victory comes down to your team’s ability to score more points than their opponents. Fortunately, Arizona has a habit of doing just that. Expect them to do a lot of it this year.

 

One Last Thought

George Kalil, who has been such an ardent fan of UA basketball that he has missed only two games in 30-plus years, and even managed to make it to the last half of a game after being knocked unconscious in a car accident, observes that, “We’re very fortunate to get a taste of big time college basketball right here.” It’s a taste that’s been steadily fed over a century, leading to a Wildcat basketball fan base that has come to demand nothing less than five-star quality.

 

“The expectations now at the U of A are of excellence sustained,” Richard Paige concludes. “Essentially it doesn’t matter who the players are — the fans and the people in the program have come to expect greatness, game in and game out.”

 

Somewhere, no doubt, Pop McKale is beaming with pride.

 

 

A Century of Memories

100 Wildcats of Note

 

Charles O. Brown, Jr., 1904-06

A member of the first two Arizona men’s basketball teams in 1904-05 and 1905-06 ... Served as the team captain in each of those seasons ... Led the Wildcats to a 59-51 win in its first and only intercollegiate game in 1904-05 for head coach Orin A. Kates.

 

Alter Louis Slonaker, 1917-22

A five-year letterwinner ... Earned all-Southwest accolades in 1920 ... Team captain in 1920 ... Averaged an incredible 23.7 points per game in 1920 (though statistics are incomplete), a figure that wouldn’t be topped for 54 years.

 

Harold Tovrea, 1921-24

Earned four letters for the Cat cagers and served as team captain in 1923 and 1924 ... Led the team in scoring in 1923 (15.8 ppg) and 1924 (17.3 ppg) in an era when most teams averaged 30 points per game... Tallied 610 career points and a 16.5 ppg scoring average ... Tallied a career-high 35 points vs. New Mexico Mines on Feb. 28, 1924 ... Led Wildcats to a 43-8 record (.843) ... Responsible for 44.7 percent of UA’s offense in his two seasons ... Finished in double figures 13 times in 1924, including two 20-point games and three 30-point games.

 

Frank Brookshier, 1923-27

The first team captain under legendary head coach Fred A. Enke, Brookshier served in that capacity in 1925-26 and 1926-27 ... Helped Cats to a 13-4 record in 1927, which at the time was the third-most wins in school history.

 

George Sorensen, 1926-29

Team captain in 1928 and 1929 ... Helped the Cats to a school-record 19 wins in 1929, a record that stood for 14 seasons ... UA won 80.4 percent of its games with Sorensen on the roster (45-11) ... Scored in double-figures eight times in his career, including a career-high 17 points at New Mexico State on Feb. 25, 1928.

 

Waldo Dicus, Guard, 1927-30

A three-year letterwinner who served as team captain in 1930 ... In his two career-high games (21 points vs. New Mexico State, Feb. 24, 1930; 19 points vs. Arizona State, Jan. 14, 1928), he scored exactly half of UA’s points.

 

Neal Goodman, 1927-30

Led team in scoring in 1928-29 (9.6 ppg) and 1929-30 (8.4 ppg) ... Was UA’s leading scorer 17 times in his three-year career (56 games) ... Scored more than 20 points two times in his career, 22 points on consecutive nights Jan. 18-19, 1929, in leading the Cats to a sweep of Arizona State ... Team co-captain in 1930, leading Cats to a 15-6 record.

 

Jack Raffety, 1930-33

Led the Cats in scoring in 1931 (10.9 ppg) and 1933 (8.0 ppg) ... Team captain in 1931-32 ... Member of UA’s first two Border Conference championship teams ... Scored 503 points in his three-year career and averaged 9.7 ppg ... Finished in double figures 30 times in his career, including a career-high 21 points at LaVerne on Jan. 7, 1932 ... Cats posted a 46-13 (.780) record during his career, including a 15-5 Border Conference mark.

 

Vince Byrne, Forward, 1931-34

One of Arizona’s first-ever all-conference honorees, collecting all-Border Conference honors in 1934 ... Helped the Wildcats to a pair of Border Conference championships in 1932 and 1933 ... While a member of the UA varsity, Byrne compiled a 55-16 (.775) record ... Led the team in scoring (10.2) and free throw shooting (.694) as a senior in 1934.

 

Marion “Babe” Coltrin, Guard, 1935-37

A two-time all-Border Conference pick ... Earned first-team honors in 1935-36 ... Helped Cats win 1936 Border Conference championship with an 11-5 league record ... Was the team’s sixth leading scorer as a senior in 1937 with a 3.5 ppg average ... Posted a season high of 12 points on Dec. 29, 1937.

 

Lorry DiGrazia, Forward 1935-38

Arizona’s first three-time all-conference performer ... Also the first player to lead the Wildcats in scoring for three consecutive seasons ... Finished his career with 611 points and an 8.9 points per game average ... Over his three-year career, he was responsible for 23.7 percent of Arizona’s total points ... Member of the 1936 Border Conference championship team ... Team co-captain in 1937-38.

 

Carl Berra, Forward, 1937-40

Lettered in all three seasons... Captain in 1940... A consummate team player who earned all-Border Conference honors twice despite never leading the team in scoring.

 

Wilmer Harper, Forward, 1938-41

A second team all-Border Conference selection in 1940 and 1941 ... Was UA’s second-leading scorer in each of his last two seasons, averaging a career-best 10.6 ppg as a senior in 1941 ... Ranked seventh in the league in scoring with a 10.9 ppg average in 1941 ... Averaged 10.1 ppg in 1940 to rank eighth in the league in scoring ... Member of 1940 Border Conference champions with a 12-4 league record ... Averaged 4.0 ppg in Border Conference play in 1939 ... Team captain in 1941

 

George Jordan, Center, 1938-40

A second-team all-Border Conference honoree in 1940 ... Co-captain in 1940 and helped the Wildcats to 12-4 Border Conference record and league championship ... Led UA in scoring in 1938-39 (8.7 ppg) and 1939-40 (9.2 ppg) ... Ranked seventh in scoring during both the 1939 (11.2 ppg) and 1940 (11.8 ppg) Border Conference slates.

 

Vince Cullen, Forward, 1940-43

Led the team in scoring from 1940-42, including a career-best 11.0 ppg mark in 1941...Named to the all-Border Conference team in 1940-41 (second team) and in 1942-43 (first team) ... Ranked fourth in the league in scoring (conference games only) with an 11.4 ppg average in 1941 and eighth in 1943 (10.0) ... Shared the 1943 Border Conference championship with a 16-2 league record, a school record for league wins that stood for 45 seasons ... Team co-captain in 1941-42.

 

Bob Ruman, Forward, 1940-43

A three-year letterwinner who helped the Cats to the 1943 Border Conference championship, which was the first in school history to win 20 games in a season ... Cats posted a 16-2 league mark in 1943, a record for conference wins that would stand for 45 seasons ... Was a second-team all-Border Conference selection in 1942 and 1943 ... Led the team in scoring as a senior in 1943, averaging 11.4 points per game ... Also led the club in free throw shooting (.705) in 1942.

 

Morris “Mo” Udall, Forward, 1941-42, 1946-48

Helped Wildcats to a pair of Border Conference championships in 1947 and 1948 ... An all-Border Conference selection in 1948 ... Was Arizona’s top scorer in 1948 with 371 points and a 13.2 ppg average ... Led UA to 40-13 record (.755) in that span, including a 26-6 (.813) league mark ... UA’s first professional basketball player after being drafted in 1948 by the Denver Nuggets of the National Basketball League ... UA student body president ... Longtime Arizona Congressman (1961-91) who ran for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1976.

 

Marv Borodkin, Guard, 1941-43, 1945-47

Team captain in 1946 in which the Cats established a school record with 25 victories ... Won three Border Conference championships during his tenure in Tucson and posted a .746 conference winning percentage ... His 1946 squad participated in the N.I.T., UA’s first-ever postseason tournament appearance ... Three times (1943, 1946, 1947) he was a second-team all-Border Conference selection ... Posted a career-best 5.4 ppg average in 1946 ... Averaged 4.0 points per game over his 93-game career.

 

George Genung, Center, 1942-47

Listed as a center, but saw considerable time as a forward ... Named to the All-Border Conference team in 1945-46 ... A member of three Border Conference championship squads ... Participated in 1946 N.I.T. ... Two-time team captain 1945-46 and 1946-47... Led the team in scoring in 1943-44 with a 13.6 ppg average ... Totaled 553 career points in 93 career appearances.

 

Lincoln “Link” Richmond, Forward, 1943-49

UA’s first 1,000-point scorer, finishing his career with 1,246 career points (10.6 ppg) ... Won four consecutive Border Conference championships from 1946-49 ... Played on the 1944-45 team that won a school-record 25 games and played in the N.I.T., UA’s first-ever postseason appearance ... Two-time all-Border Conference pick ... Still ranks on the Arizona career scoring list ... Led the Border Conference in scoring, and ranked 25th nationally, with a 17.9 ppg average in 1946-47 ... Also led the team in free throw percentage in 1946 and 1947 ... Arizona’s only 6-year letterman.

 

Fred W. Enke, Guard, 1945-48

A three-time all-Border Conference selection... Helped team to three consecutive Border Conference championships and a three-year record of 65-18 (.783) and league mark of 40-9 (.816) ... Played in 1946 N.I.T., the school’s first-ever postseason appearance, and tallied 18 points vs. Kentucky ... Averaged 6.6 points as a senior, 5.8 as a junior and 8.7 points as a sophomore to total 552 points for his career ... Co-captain of the1947-48 team ... Son of legendary UA head coach Fred A. Enke.

 

Hillard “Junior” Crum, Center, 1945-49

Played on four consecutive Border Conference championship teams (1946-49), which started UA’s run of six straight ... A member of UA’s first-ever postseason club, the 1946 N.I.T. team ... A second-team all-Border Conference selection in 1947 and 1949 ... In 1949 he posted a 13.7 ppg average in league play to rank second overall ... Ranked 15th in the league in scoring (8.7) during the 1948 campaign and ninth in 1947 (11.4 ppg) ... Named team captain in 1948-49.

 

Leon Blevins, Forward, 1948-50

Team captain in 1950... Named to all-Border Conference first team twice, first in 1949 and again in 1950 ... As a senior in 1950, earned all-district and all-coast accolades ... Led the 1948-49 team in field goal percentage (.360) and the 1949-50 club in scoring (14.9 ppg) and free throw shooting percentage (.786) ... Both seasons he led the team in scoring and averaged 14.4 points for his career ... The first UA player to score 400 points in a single season (462/1950) ... The third Wildcat ever to be drafted by the NBA as a seventh-round pick in 1950.

 

Bob Honea, Forward, 1948-51

Led the team in scoring in 1950-51 with a 12.8 ppg average... Led the team in field goal percentage twice (1950 and 1951) ... Voted to the all-Border Conference team twice from 1949-51... Ranked fourth in the Border Conference with a 13.5 ppg average as a senior ... Won three straight Border Conference championships and finished his career with a career conference record of 42-6 (.875) ... Helped 1951 team to a 15-1 league mark and berths in the NCAA and N.I.T. tournaments ... Co-captain of the 1950-51 team.

 

Leo Johnson, Guard/Center, 1948-51

A versatile player whose height (6-foot-4) allowed him to play at the guard and center positions ... Averaged 10.1 points in 1950-51 ... A two-time all-Border Conference honoree, earning second team honors in 1950 and first team in 1951 ... Won three straight Border Conference championships and finished his career with a career conference record of 42-6 (.875) ... Helped 1951 team to a 15-1 league mark and berths in the NCAA and N.I.T. tournaments ... Co-captain of the 1950-51 team ... Averaged 12.4 rebounds per game in 1951.

 

Roger Johnson, Guard, 1949-52

Arizona’s first basketball All-American in 1951, a third-team pick by the Helms Foundation ... Finished his career with 1,046 points scored to average 12.3 ppg for his 76-game career ... Was the second Wildcat to top the 1,000-point plateau ... Named to the all-Border Conference team three times (1950, ’51 and ’52) ... Received all-District 6 honors in 1950-51 and in 1951-52 ... Voted team MVP in 1951-52 ... Played in 1950 N.I.T. and 1951 NCAA and N.I.T. tournaments ... In 1951 he received the Bobcats award for most outstanding senior athlete ... Selected in the 1952 NBA Draft.

 

Bill Kemmeries, Forward, 1950-53

Named to the all-Border Conference team in 1951-52 ... Led the team in scoring for two consecutive seasons (1952/14.1 ppg and 1953/13.8 ppg), amassing 748 of his 814 career points during that run ... Led the team in free throw percentage (.742) and field goal percentage (.408) in 1951-52 ... Won Border Conference titles in 1951 and 1953 ... A member of UA’s 1951 club that participated in both the N.I.T. and NCAA tournaments ... Voted team’s most valuable player in 1952-53.

 

Eli “Ted” Lazovich, Forward, 1951-55

Team captain in 1955 ... Won Border Conference title in 1953 ... Scored 786 points in his 84-game career, good for a 9.4 ppg average ... Ranked second on the team in scoring (11.3) and rebounding (5.9) in 1955 ... Posted a career-high 12.8 points per game average in 1954 ... Finished in double figures 10 times in 1955, including a high of 27 points on Feb. 2, 1955, vs. Bradley.

 

George Rountree, Forward, 1952-55

Team captain in 1955 ... Cats’ second-leading scorer as a sophomore in 1952-53 with a 10.5 ppg average ... Scored a team-high 18 points on Dec. 17, 1952, vs. top-ranked LaSalle ... Scored in double figures 29 times during his sophomore and senior campaigns, including a career-high 23 points vs. New Mexico State on Feb. 12, 1955 ... Totaled 707 points in 76 career games (9.3 ppg) played.

 

Hadie Redd, Forward, 1953-55

The University of Arizona’s first African-American letterwinner ... A two-time all-Border Conference pick ... Led the team in scoring and rebounding in each of his seasons with career highs of 13.6 ppg and 9.8 rpg in 1955 ... Finished his career with 655 points (13.4 ppg) and 404 rebounds (8.2 rpg) ... His .371 field goal percentage in 1954 led the Cats.

 

Bill Reeves, Center, 1954-57

One of Arizona’s finest rebounders, Reeves led the team in rebounding for two consecutive seasons (1956 and 1957) ... Shares the UA record for rebounds in a game with 26, originally set Feb. 1, 1956, vs. UC-Santa Barbara ... Holds the single-season record for rebound average with a 13.2 rpg mark in 1955-56 ... Still ranks fourth on the career rebounds list with 837, while his career average of 10.7 rpg ranks third ... His 343 rebounds in 1956 is tied for second-best in UA history ... Tallied 589 career points (7.6 ppg).

 

Bob Mueller, Forward, 1955-58

Earned first-team all-Border Conference honors in 1957 ... Scored 931 points in his career, a 12.0 ppg average ... Averaged in double figures in all three seasons on the UA varsity, including a career-high 14.1 ppg mark in 1957 ... Joins Ernie McCray (1960) as UA’s last first team all-conference selections under Fred A. Enke ... Scored in double figures 13 times as a senior in 1958, including three 20-point games ... Ranked third on the squad with 140 rebounds (5.3 rpg) in 1957-58.

 

Ed Nymeyer, Forward, 1955-58

A three-time all-Border Conference honoree ... Finished his career as UA’s second all-time leading scorer with 1,225 points (15.7 ppg) ... Led the team in scoring for three consecutive seasons, tallying over 400 points in each season and becoming the third player to score more than 400 points in a single season ... Also led team in field goal percentage in each of his varsity seasons, and finished with a .459 career field goal percentage ... Set a school record with 351 free throws made and still ranks in the top 10 ... team captain in 1958

 

Ernie McCray, Center, 1957-60

One of only six UA players to be ranked in the career top 20 in scoring (1,349 points) and top 10 in rebounding (824) ... His 10.8 career rebounding average ranks second all-time ... Two-time team MVP and all-Border Conference selection in 1959 and 1960 ... First player to lead the team in rounding three consecutive seasons (only three have done it since) ... Led the team in field goal percentage twice and also led the team in scoring from 1958-60 His 23.9 ppg scoring average in 1960 still ranks third in school history ... Drafted by the Cincinnati Royals in the 1960 NBA Draft.

 

Albert Johnson, Forward, 1962-65

One of the top rebounders in school history, Johnson never averaged less than 9.0 rebounds per game ... Three-time all-WAC honors from 1962-65 ... Voted most valuable player in 1962-63 ... Led the team in rebounding for three consecutive years, from 1962-65, including a career-best 11.0 rpg mark as a junior in 1964 that still ranks sixth in school history ... His 755 career rebounds ranks ninth all-time while his 9.9 rpg average ranks fifth ... Led the team in scoring in 1963 (12.9 ppg) and 1964 (15.2 ppg) ... His 1,034 career points ranks 33rd on the UA career scoring list.

 

Warren Rustand, Guard, 1962-65

Arizona’s first Academic All-American in 1965 ... Two-time team most valuable player... Named to the all-WAC team three consecutive seasons from 1963-65 ... All-WAC Academic team in 1964 and 1965 and won the WAC Scholar-Athlete award in 1965 ... The only player in school history to lead the team in free throw and field goal percentage in three consecutive seasons ... His .814 career free throw percentage still ranks seventh on the career charts ... Team captain in 1964 and 1965 ... Selected in the 1965 NBA Draft.

 

Joe Skaisgir, Forward, 1960-62

Two-time most valuable player... Earned an all-Border Conference honors in 1961-62... Led the team in rebounds, scoring and field goal percentage in 1960-61 and 1961-62... Was the first player in school history to score more than 1,000 points in two seasons (1,034) ... His 19.9 career scoring average ranks second in school history ... Shares the school record for rebounds in a game with 26, set Jan. 31, 1962, vs. Cal State Los Angeles ... His 11.2 career rebound average tops the UA career list ... Averaged a career-best 12.1 rebounds per game in 1961-62.

 

Ted Pickett, Guard, 1963-66

A three-year letterwinner who helped the Wildcats to three consecutive winning seasons ... A second-team, all-Western Athletic Conference pick in 1966 ... Scored 763 points in his 67-game career (11.4 ppg) and averaged 5.8 rebounds during his career as well ... Scoring average and output improved with each season ... Led the team in scoring (16.5) and field goal percentage (.493) as a senior in 1966, while his 7.2 rpg average ranked second ... Voted Most Valuable Player by his teammates in 1966.

 

Bill Davis, Forward/Center, 1966-68

Led the team in scoring, field goal percentage and rebounding in 1966-67 and 1967-68 ... Two-time team MVP ... Ranked No. 9 in career rebounding average (9.1 rpg) and No. 10 in scoring average (16.4 ppg) ... An all-WAC performer in 1967-68 ... Scored a team-leading 421 points in 1967-68... Co-captain of the 1967-68 team.

 

Mickey Foster, Guard/Forward, 1967-70

Team most valuable player in 1968-69 ... Ranks fifth on UA career free throw percentage list (.824) ... Averaged in double figures in all three seasons with the UA varsity (12.4 ppg) ... Scoring average improved in WAC play to 14.1 ppg ... Led the team in free throw percentage for three consecutive seasons with a with a career best of .855 as a senior in 1970 (sixth-best on UA single-season list) ... Voted outstanding senior in 1969-70... Recipient of the Bobcats Award for most outstanding senior athlete... Drafted by the Indiana Pacers in the 1970 ABA Draft.

 

Tom Lee, Forward, 1968-71

Finished his career with 922 points (12.0 ppg) and a 737 rebounds (9.6 rpg) in his 77-game career ... His 737 career boards still ranks 10th all-time at Arizona ... Led the team in rebounding in 1969-70 at 9.9 rebounds per game ... Also led the 1971 team in field goal percentage (.493) ... A ninth round pick in the 1971 NBA Draft.

 

Eddie Myers, Center, 1968-71

Led the team in rebounding in 1969 (10.3 rpg) and 1971 (9.2 rpg) ... His 9.5 career rebounds per game average still ranks No. 6 in UA history ... Voted Most Improved Player in 1970-71 ... Scored in double figures 17 times in 1971, including a career-best 31 vs. Utah ... Averaged in double figures in each of his three seasons with a high of 12.7 ppg as a senior ... Never averaged fewer than 8.9 rebounds per game for a season.

 

Bill Warner, Forward, 1968-71

Two-time all-WAC honors and was named team most valuable player in 1970 and 1971... Led the team scoring for three consecutive seasons and averaged better than 20 points in his junior and senior seasons ... His 543 points scroed in 1971 was the second-highest total in school history at the time ... Tallied 1,462 points which ranks him 13th in career scoring... Also ranks in the top-10 for scoring average for a career (18.7) and for a season (20.4) ... Was drafted in both the 1971 NBA and ABA drafts.

 

Bruce Anderson, Center, 1969-72

Team captain in 1972 ... Voted team Most Valuable Player in 1972 after averaging 15.7 points and 9.3 rebounds per game ... Tallied 806 career points (11.7 ppg) and 546 rebounds (7.9 rpg) ... Scored in double figures in 18 of 26 games as a senior, including a high of 23 points vs. San Francisco on Dec. 22, 1971 ... His .478 field goal percentage as a junior ranked second on the club.

 

Jim Huckestein, Guard, 1970-72

Enjoyed a strong senior season that ended with all-WAC and was a USBWA all-District 7 honoree in 1971-72... Led the team in scoring (17.4 ppg) and free throw percentage (.771) in 1971-72 ... His 451 points scored in 1972 was the seventh-best total in UA history at the time ... As a senior, scored in double figures in 22 of 26 games ... Co-captain in 1971-72.

 

Al Fleming, Forward, 1972-76

A member of Arizona’s famed “Kiddie Korps” team ... The top rebounder in school history with 1,190 career rebounds ... Ranks second with a 10.8 rebounds per game average .. His 1,765 points scored still ranks seventh all time ... Listed in the top-10 of four other career categories:  field goals (688/3rd), field goal percentage (.583/4th), free throws (389/8th) and free throw attempts (522/9th) ... His .667 field goal percentage in 1974 is still a school record ... Three-time all-WAC honors ... A two-time USBWA all-District 7 honoree... Has two of the top nine single-game scoring totals in UA history.

 

Eric Money, Guard, 1972-74

Key member of Arizona’s “Kiddie Korps” in 1973 ... A two-time second team all-WAC selection ... Averaged 18.6 points per game in his two-year career to rank sixth all-time ... Scored 492 points as a freshman in 1972-73 ... Averaged 20.3 ppg in conference play for his career ... Scored 30 or more points five times in his career, including a career-high 37 twice ... Led the team in assists with 96 in 1973 and 110 in 1974 ... Team’s most valuable player in 1972-73 and 1973-74 ... Drafted in the 1974 NBA and ABA draft.

 

Coniel “Popcorn” Norman, 1972-74

A sweet shooter with unlimited range ...Along with Eric Money, gave the Cats an electrifying backcourt as part of Arizona’s “Kiddie Korps” in 1973 ... A two-time all-WAC selection while earning both Player- and Rookie-of-the-Year honors in 1973 ... Averaged better than 23 points per game to lead the team in scoring in both seasons in Tucson ...Scored 1,194 career points to rank 21st all-time in UA history ... His 23.9 ppg scoring average is the highest in school history ... Set a UA freshman record with 576 points in 1972-73 that still stands today ... Led the Cats in scoring in 32 of 50 career games played ... Drafted in the 1974 NBA and ABA draft.

 

Jim Rappis, Guard, 1972-76

Constantly battled injury, but managed a productive career by averaging 10.1 points and 2.1 rebounds ... A member of 1976 WAC champion and NCAA West Regional finalist ... A second team all-WAC pick in 1976 ... A two-time all-WAC academic selection ... Averaged 12.7 points and shot 46.1 percent from the field over his last two seasons ... Scored a team-high 20 points in 1976 NCAA Tournament win over Georgetown ... Led the team in assists in 1975-76 ... Voted team co-captain and co-MVP in 1975-76... A fifth round pick in the 1976 NBA Draft.

 

Bob Elliott, Center, 1973-77

Two-time All-American (1976, 1977)...The second-leading scorer and rebounder in UA history with 2,131 points and 1,083 rebounds ... The only UA player to top 2,000 career points and 1,000 rebounds ... His 677 points in 1974-75 was a school record for 13 years ... Ranks in the top 10 in eight different career and nine single-season categories ... Named to the all-WAC team, USBWA all-District 7 and all-WAC academic team three times from 1974-77 ... A CoSIDA Academic All-American and the only UA athlete to be inducted into Academic All-America Hall of Fame.

 

Herman Harris, Guard, 1973-77

Led the team in scoring in 1976-77, scoring 543 points which at the time was the seventh-best in school history ... His 1,174 career points still ranks 25th in school history ... Scored 35 points in a game two times in his career in consecutive games, Jan. 20-22, 1977, vs. Utah and BYU ... Led the team in free throw percentage (.760) in 1976-77 ... Led the team twice in steals, from 1976 and 1977 ... Named first team all-WAC, USBWA all-District 7, and participated in the 1977 East-West All-Star game in 1977...  Voted most outstanding senior in 1977.

 

Gary Harrison, Guard, 1974-77

A member of UA’s 1976 WAC championship team and NCAA West Regional finalist ... Participated in two NCAA Tournaments ... Spent most of his career as the sixth man until his senior season ... Averaged a career-best 9.3 points, 1.6 rebounds and 4.7 assists in 27 games in 1977 ... Led the team in assists (128) in 1976-77 ... Also ranked second on the club with 33 steals in 1977 ... Voted most improved player in 1976-77.

 

Phil Taylor, Center, 1974-78

Garnered all-WAC honors in 1977-78 as well as being voted team most valuable player... Led the team in scoring from 1977 and 1978 ... His 16.6 ppg average in 1977-78 was a career best ... Tallied 1,127 career points and ranks 27th on the UA career scoring list ... Averaged 11.1 points and 6.8 rebounds in his career ... Grabbed a career-best 292 boards in 1977, which is the ninth-best single-season tally in UA history ... His 10.8 rpg average in 1977 ranks seventh ... Drafted by the Denver Nuggets in the 1978 NBA Draft.

 

Larry Demic, Center, 1975-79

Arizona’s first-ever first-team all-Pac-10 performer and first round NBA Draft pick ... A member of UA’s 1976 WAC championship club ... Made NCAA Tournament appearances in 1976 and 1977 ... Led the Wildcats in scoring (19.3 ppg), field goal percentage (.571), rebounding (10.3 rpg) and blocked shots (0.8 bpg) in 1978-79 ... He is the last UA player to average more than 10 rebounds per game for a season ... Also led the team in blocked shots in 1977-78 ... His .553 career field goal percentage still ranks eighth all-time at UA ... A first-team all-Pac-10 and USBWA all-District 8 pick in 1978-79.

 

Kenny Davis, Forward, 1976-78

A two-year player who averaged 8.7 points, 5.9 rebounds and shot 40.7 percent from the floor in his 51-game career ... An athletic big man who played in the shadows of players like Phil Taylor, Bob Elliott, Robbie Dosty and Larry Demic ... In one extraordinary effort, Davis equaled a McKale Center record with 25 rebounds vs. Texas-El Paso on Feb. 11, 1977, which was one shy of the school record ... Included in the feat was 15 rebounds in the second half, still a school record to this date.

 

Russell Brown, Guard, 1977-81

Arizona’s first outstanding point guard of the Pac-10 era, Brown is the only player in school history to lead the team in assists in four consecutive seasons ... Still ranks as the UA all-time leader with 810 assists (7.6 apg) and is third all-time on the Pac-10 list ... Holds the school and Pac-10 record for assists in a single game with 19 vs. Grand Canyon on Dec. 8, 1979 ... Ranks third all-time on the UA minutes played per game list at 33.2 ... An honorable mention All-Pac-10 pick in 1979 ... His 247 assists in 1978-79 is a UA single-season record and ranks fourth in the Pac-10 record book.

 

Robbie Dosty, Forward, 1977-81

Rebounded from multiple knee surgeries following a car accident to post the best season of his career as a senior in 1980-81 by averaging 13.4 points and 6.6 rebounds ... Averaged 16.3 points and 7.1 rebounds as a senior in Pac-10 play ... Scored a career-high 32 points at Stanford on Jan. 30, 1981 ... Led the team in free-throw percentage (.790) and rebounding 178/6.6 rpg) in 1980-81... Voted Most Improved Player in 1980-81... A sixth-round pick of the Golden State Warriors in the 1981 NBA Draft.

 

Joe Nehls, Guard, 1977-80

Arizona’s first two-time all-Pac-10 selection, earning the distinction in 1979 and 1980 ... Also garnered most outstanding senior and team MVP honors in 1980 ... Ranks 16th in career points scored with 1,409 ... Averaged 16.8 points over his career and 21.1 ppg in Pac-10 play as a senior ... Scored 30 or more points four times in his career, including a high of 35 vs. Stanford on Jan. 31, 1980 ... Led the team in free throw percentage for three consecutive seasons and finished his career as the all-time leader in free throw percentage (.855) ... Drafted by the Houston Rockets in the 1980 NBA Draft.

 

John Smith, Guard, 1977-81

Three-year sixth man who became a starter as a senior and responded with career-high averages of 10.0 points,  3.4 rebounds and a .483 field goal percentage ... Definitely had a flair for the dramatic ... Tallied game winning free throw with nine seconds left in UA’s 70-69 win over third-ranked UCLA on Jan. 18, 1979 ... Hits UA’s last four points in 65-61 win vs. Fresno State on Dec. 17, 1979 ... Led the team in steals with 27 in 1980-81 ... Averaged 6.7 points for his career.

 

Ron Davis, Forward, 1979-81

Led the team in scoring in 1980-81 with a 19.6 ppg average ... Davis’ 1981 scoring average was the sixth-best of the Fred Snowden era ... His 529 points scored in 1981 was the ninth-best in school history at the time... Led the team in field goal percentage in 1979-80 (.506) and shot over 50 percent from the floor in his two-year career... Named all-Pac-10 and team MVP in 1980-81.

 

Frank Smith, Forward, 1979-83

Received all-Pac-10 honors in 1981-82 after averaging career-bests of 14.4 points and 7.8 rebounds ... Voted team most valuable player in 1982-83 ... Ranks 17th in career scoring with 1,329 points ... Led the team in blocked shots all four years, from 1979-83... Still ranks seventh all-time with 84 blocked shots ... Averaged better than 11 points per game in each of his last three seasons ... Shot 53.4 percent from the field in his career ... Led the team in rebounding as a freshman, junior and senior ... Tallied 16 double-doubles over his last two seasons.

 

Brock Brunkhorst Guard 1981-85

Point guard that was the link between Fred Snowden and Lute Olson ... Tallied 733 career points and 414 assists ... Led the team in assists for three straight seasons from 1983-85 ... Led the team in free-throw shooting in 1982-83 with a mark of .762 ... Voted most improved player in 1982-83 ... Voted team captain in 1984-85 ... Named to the Pac-10 all-Freshman team in 1981-82.

 

Steve Kerr, Guard, 1983-88

Earned two All-America accolades in 1988 ... Ranks 15th on the career scoring list with 1,445 points, scoring more than 400 points in a single season twice ... Career leader in 3-point shooting percentage (.573) ... No. 6 in career free throw percentage (.815) ... Recorded the most 3-pointers in a single season in school and Pac-10 history with 114 in 1987-88 ... Despite being an outside shooter, still ranks ninth on the UA career field goal percentage list at .551 ... Two-time Pac-10 All-Academic team member... Voted USBWA Most Courageous Athlete in 1988

 

Eddie Smith, Forward, 1983-85

Started all 59 games of his UA career ... Scored in double figures in 47 of those 59 appearances ... Received all-Pac-10 honors in 1984-85... Led the team in scoring in 1984-85 with 500 points... Posted career averages of 14.7 points and 7.0 rebounds ... Voted best defensive player in 1984 and 1985 ... Ranked second in the Pac-10 with 46 steals in 1984 ... Averaged 1.4 steals per game during his career ... Hit game-winning, buzzer-beaters to down Arizona State in two trips to Tempe ... A seventh round pick in the 1985 NBA Draft.

 

Pete Williams, Center, 1983-85

A critical late recruit that turned out to be something special ... Two-time team MVP and all-Pac-10 honoree ... Led the team in blocked shots, rebounds and field goal percentage in 1984 and 1985 ... His .605 career field goal percentage is the second-best in UA history ... Led the team in scoring in 1983-84 with 407 points and a 14.5 ppg average ... Led the Pac-10 in rebounding (9.9 rpg) in 1984 and set a UA Pac-10 record with 252 rebounds (14.0 rpg) in conference play ... Ranks eighth in career rebound average (9.2) ... A fourth-round pick in the 1985 NBA Draft.

 

John Edgar, Center, 1984-86

At 6-foot-6, he was the Pac-10’s shortest starting center, but he managed to help the program to its first Pac-10 Conference championship in 1986 ... Led the team and ranked seventh in the league in rebounding (7.3 rpg), while ranking 10th in field goal percentage (.509) ... Registered more dunks than any other UA player in 1985-86 (28) and earned best defensive player accolades as well.

 

Craig McMillan, Guard, 1984-88

Heady ballplayer who gladly accepted whatever role the team needed ... Won two Pac-10 titles and helped 1988 club to the Final Four ... Tallied 1,174 points over his four-year career and still ranks 23rd on the UA career scoring list ... Averaged a career-best 12.9 ppg and shot 47.2 percent from the floor in 1987 and posted a 2.87 assist:turnover ratio in 1988 ... Voted best defensive player in 1986-87 ... Led the team in 3-point shooting (.425)  in 1986-87...  Ranks fourth in career starts with 109 and tied for fifth with 130 games played.

 

Anthony Cook, Center, 1985-89

Holds four of the top-10 single-season block records, his highest mark ranks him second, with 84 in 1988-89 ... He also owns the top-position for a career with 278 ... Tied for first for most games played in a single season with 38 ... Ranks fifth in single-season starts with 37 in 1987-88 ... Ranked in the top five in four different career statistical categories ... Scored over 500 points in a single season twice (1988 and 1989) ... Named to the all-Pac-10 team twice in 1987-88 ... A two-time all-Pac-10 Tournament  selection.

 

Sean Elliott, Forward, 1985-89

The consensus 1989 national Player of the Year ... A consensus All-America pick in 1988 and 1989 ... Arizona’s all-time career scoring leader with 2,555 points ... Finished his career as the Pac-10’s career scoring leader ... 1988 and 1999 Pac-10 Player of the Year and a three-time all-conference honoree ... The only player in UA history to lead the Wildcats in scoring in four consecutive seasons ... Scored in double figures in 128 of 133 career games ... Finished his career as the UA career leader in 11 different statistical categories.

 

Ken Lofton, Guard, 1985-89

A member of three Pac-10 championship teams and the 1988 Final Four outfit ... One of the finest defensive players in UA history, Lofton is one of only two players to lead the team in steals for three consecutive seasons ... Finished his career as the all-time leader in steals with 200 and still ranks fourth ... An excellent point guard who led the 1988-89 club with 135 assists (4.1 apg) ... Tallied 329 career assists ... Shot 53.4 percent from the floor in 1988 ... Voted most improved player in 1986-87... His career-high 67 steals in 1989 was a UA single-season record that still ranks No. 6.

 

Jud Buechler Forward, 1986-90

Ranks No. 25 in career scoring with 1,144 points ... Scored a career-best 477 points in 1989-90... Was named to the Pac-10 All-Tournament team twice, in 1989 and 1990... As a senior In 1989-90, he was named to the all-Pac-10 team, team captain, co-MVP of the Pac-10 Tournament, USBWA all-District 7 ... A member of Arizona’s first Final Four team in 1988 ... Played more Pac-10 Tournament games (10) than any other UA player and helped the program with three consecutive tournament championships (1988-90).

 

Tom Tolbert, Center, 1986-88

A two-year starter for the Cats ... Was key to UA’s 1988 NCAA Final Four run, as he tallied 14 of his 21 points in the decisive 30-10 run vs. North Carolina in West Regional final ... Earned all-NCAA West Regional honors for his efforts ... Averaged 14.0 points, 6.0 rebounds, and shot 53.0 percent from the floor in his 68 games as a Wildcat ... His .812 free throw percentage in 1988 led the club ... Helped UA to a 43-15 record and one Pac-10 title ... 1988 team won a school-record 35 games ... A second-round pick in the 1988 NBA Draft.

 

Matt Muehlebach, Guard, 1987-91

Member of the 1988 Final Four team... Three-time Pac-10 all-Academic honoree... Ranks eighth with 458 assists and 36th in career scoring with 1,006 points ... Finished his career with 138 steals ... Co-Most Outstanding Player of the 1990 Pac-10 Tournament ... First UA player to register a triple-double ... Led the team in steals in 1990 and ‘91... Led the team in assists (181) and free throw percentage (.816) in 1989-90 ... Voted three times as the team’s best defensive player ... Won more games in a UA uniform than any other player (117) and never lost a game in McKale Center.

 

Matt Othick, Guard, 1988-92

First player in school history to notch 1,000 career points and 500 assists ... A strong point guard with a 3:1 assist:turnover ratio for his career ... Finished his career as the UA career leader in three-point field goals (193) and attempts (485), while ranking No. 2 in assists (548) ... Led the team in assists from 1991-93... Still ranks 10th in career steals with 142 ... His career-best 182 assists in 1991 ranks ninth on the UA list ... Listed in the single-season games started with 35 nods in 1991 ... A tri-captain in 1992.

 

Sean Rooks, Center, 1988-92

Won three Pac-10 titles during his career ... Earned honorable mention All-America, USBWA all-District 8, NABC all-District 15 and all-Pac-10 honors in 1992 ... Finished career ranked fifth on the all-time scoring list with 1,497 points ... Still ranks fifth on the career field goal percentage list (.575) ... Led team with a 16.3 ppg average and .560 field goal percentage in 1991-92 ... Ranks fourth with 590 career free throw attempts ... His 142 career blocked shots still ranks fourth all-time ... Tri-captain in 1992 ... A second round pick in the 1992 NBA Draft.

 

Wayne Womack, Forward, 1988-92

Team co-captain in 1992 ... Won three Pac-10 championships in his four seasons in Tucson, while posting averages of 5.7 points and 3.7 rebounds per game ... In his four-year career, Womack helped the Cats to a 106-25 (.809) record ... Earned a starting role in 1991-92 after spending the two previous two seasons as a key reserve ... One of those indispensable guys with all of the intangibles ... Shot 50 percent or better from the floor in three of four collegiate seasons and .520 for his career ... Defense and shot blocking were his forte.

 

Ed Stokes, Center, 1989-93

A tremendous defensive presence who still ranks third on the career block list with 167 ... Won three Pac-10 championships ... Earned Basketball Weekly all-Far West honors in 1993 after averaging a career-best 11.5 points and 7.7 rebounds per game ... Voted co-best defensive player in 1992-93 ... Led the team in blocked shots three of his four years, 1990,  ’92 and ’93 ... Averaged 8.0 points, 5.3 rebounds and shot 51.1 percent from the floor in his 121-game career.

 

Brian Williams, Forward, 1989-91

Garnered an All-American honors in 1991... Voted to the NCAA all-West Regional team in 1991 ... An all-Pac-10 and USBWA all-District 8 selection in 1991 ... Posted 10 double-doubles in 1991 ... Co-MVP of the 1990-91 team ... Shot .619 from the floor as a senior, the third-best mark in school history ... Also ranks third with a .591 career field goal percentage ... Led the team in rebounding (7.8 rpg) in 1990-91... The second UA player to be a Lottery pick, he was the 10th overall selection in the 1991 NBA Draft.

 

Chris Mills, Forward, 1990-93

Six-time All-American from 1991-93 ... Named Pac-10 Player of the Year in 1992-93 after averaging 20.9 points and 7.9 rebounds ... Still ranks ninth in career scoring with 1,619 points... Ranks in the top 10 in eight different career statistical categories...Shot .483  from three-point range in 1992-93, the second-best single-season percentage in UA history ... His 17.2 career scoring average ranks eighth ... In 1993, Mills led his team in five different categories ... Scored in double figures in his last 46 games and collected 30 double-doubles ... A first round NBA Draft pick in 1993.

 

Khalid Reeves, Guard, 1990-94

Received six All-America honors in 1994... Led team to 1994 Final Four by averaging 27.4 ppg in NCAA Tournament ... Named NCAA West Regional Most Outstanding Player ... Won three Pac-10 titles in his career ... Finished his career ranked third on the career scoring list with 1,925 points ... Owns the record for points in a season with 848 and single-season scoring average (24.2 ppg) in 1994 ... Set six single-season records in 1994 ... Still ranks among the top-10 in six career statistical categories ... Scored 30 or more points eight times in 1994 ... A first round pick in the 1994 NBA Draft.

 

Ray Owes, Forward, 1991-95

Steady and consistent, Owes won a pair of Pac-10 championships and played on the 1994 Final Four squad ... An all-Pac-10 and NABC all-District 15 selection as a senior ... Finished his career with 1,178 points and 721 rebounds ... His scoring improved in each of his four seasons, while tallying more than 400 points twice ...  Finished in double figures in 55 of his last 66 games ... Led the team in rebounding for two consecutive seasons (1995 and 1996) and ranked fifth in the Pac-10 (8.1 rpg) as a senior ... Tri-captain in 1994.

 

Damon Stoudamire, Guard, 1991-95

Received three All-American honors in 1994 and was a consensus All-American as well as the co-Pac-10 Player of the Year in 1995 ... Played on two Pac-10 championship teams and the 1994 Final Four club ... Ranks fifth on the career scoring list with 1,849 points ... Only player to score 40 points in a single game twice ... One of only three UA players to score more than 600 points in a season twice ... Finished his career as the leader in career three-point goals (272) ... Ranks in the career top 10 of eleven different statistical categories... The seventh pick of the 1995 NBA Draft.

 

Joseph Blair, Center, 1992-96

Finished in the top 30 in career scoring with 1,086 points, and averaged 10.4 during his four years... Holds the all-time record for field goal shooting in a career with a .613 average... Voted co-Most Inspirational Player in 1994-95... Named to the all-Pac-10 team in 1994-95... Led the team in blocks and field goal percentage in 1993-94 and 1994-95... Holds the No. 6 slot on the career blocked shots list.

 

Reggie Geary, Guard, 1992-96

One of the finest defenders in UA history ... 1994 Final Four participant ... Two-time Pac-10 champion ... Finished his career as the all-time leader in steals with 208 (still ranks third) ... Ranks fifth in assists with 560 ... Named all-Pac-10 in 1995-96... Earned NABC all-District 15 honors in 1995-96 ... Fiesta Bowl Classic MVP as a senior ... Co-captain in 1995 and 1996 ... Won more than 80 percent of his games as a Wildcat ... Drafted in the second round of the 1996 NBA Draft.

 

Ben Davis, Forward/Center, 1994-96

A first team all-Pac-10 and a second team NABC all-District 15 selection in 1996 ... Holds the No. 7 position on the UA single-season rebounding list with 313 in 1995-96 ... Led the team in rebounding (9.5 rpg), field goal percentage (.546) and scoring (14.2 ppg) in 1995-96... Scored 469 points in the 1995-96 campaign ... Named team most valuable player in 1995-96 ... Co-captain of the 1995-96 team ... A second round pick of the Phoenix Suns in the 1996 NBA draft.

 

Michael Dickerson, Forward, 1994-98

Two-time All-American (1997, 1998) ... Member of the 1997 National Championship team... One of three UA players to score more then 600 points in two separate seasons... Ranks sixth in career scoring with 1,791 points... Listed among the top 10 in four single-season statistical categories:  points scored (7th/642), field goal attempts (2nd/565), field goals (6th/241) and games started (8th/35) ... Named to the all-Pac-10 team twice (1997 and 1998) ... Named to the USBWA all-District 8 team in 1996-97... Named NABC all-District 15 in 1997-98... One of 12 Arizona NBA first round draft picks.

 

Miles Simon, Guard, 1994-98

Earned four All-American honors in 1998... A member of the 1997 National Championship squad and 1998 Pac-10 champion ... Named Most Outstanding Player of the 1997 Final Four and Southeast Regional ... All-District pick by NABC and USBWA in 1998 ... Three-time all-Pac-10 honoree... Ranks eighth in career scoring with 1,664 points ... Tallied 34 20-point games in his career ... Listed in five career top-10 lists ... Co-captain of 1997 and 1998 teams ... Played on one of only two 30-game winners in UA history ... Drafted in the 1998 NBA draft.

 

A.J. Bramlett, Forward, 1995-99

Led the team in rebounding three consecutive seasons from 1997-99 ... In that span he never averaged fewer than 6.9 rebounds per game ... Led the team twice in blocked shots ... Was the regular starting center for the team all three seasons... ... Earned all-Pac-10 honors in 1997-98 ... Named co-captain in 1998-99 ... Named UA’s best defensive player in 1997-98 and 1998-99 ... Co-outstanding senior in 1998-99.

 

Jason Terry, Guard, 1995-99

Earned national Player of the Year and five All-America accolades in 1999 to go with Pac-10 Player-of-the-Year honors ... A member of the 1997 National Champions and 1998 Pac-10 champions ... Shined as a senior by scoring 635 points (No. 9 all-time) and averaging 21.9 ppg (No. 8 all-time) ... Ranks 14th in career scoring with 1,461 points (11.3 ppg) ... School record holder with 245 career steals ... Ranks third for with 193 career three-point field goals and 514 career three-point attempts ... His 129 career games played ranks eighth ... Was the 10th pick of the first round of the 1999 NBA Draft.

 

Mike Bibby, Guard, 1996-98

Named a consensus All-America, Pac-10 Player of the Year, all-Pac-10, all-NABC District 15 and team MVP in 1997-98 ... Ranks in the top 10 in five different categories including, 3-point field goals made, 3-point field goals attempted, steals, games started, and single-season assists... Scored 603 points in the 1997-98 campaign... In 1996-97 was named national freshman of the year, all-Final Four, all-Southeast Regional and Pac-10 Freshman of the Year... Highest-drafted player in school history, as he went No. 2 in the 1998 NBA draft.

 

Bennett Davison, Forward, 1996-98

Member of the 1997 National Championship team... A two-year starter who led the team in field goal percentage (.590) in 1997-98 ... Led the team in blocked shots in 1996-97 ... Holds the school record for steals in a game with nine vs. Stanford on Feb. 28, 1998 ... Posted four double-doubles in his career, including a 14-point, 12-rebound effort vs. Providence in the 1997 NCAA Southeast Regional final that sent the Cats to the Final Four.

 

Eugene Edgerson, Forward, 1996-2001

A fan favorite whose high socks and afro signified his “old school” game ... Only Arizona player to play in two Final Fours (1997 and 2001) ... Member of the 1997 National Championship team ... Also won two Pac-10 titles (1998 and 2000) ... Known more for his defense and rebounding, he averaged 4.2 points and 4.4 rebounds in his 130-game career ... A Pac-10 all-Academic and Arthur Ashe, Jr., Scholar-Athlete award winner in 2001... Named most inspirational player in 2000-01 ... Redshitred in 1999-2000 to accomplish his goal of earning his UA degree and teaching certificate in four years.

 

Rick Anderson, Forward, 1998-2003

Tri-captain in 2001-02 and 2002-03... Member of the 2001 Final Four Team... Voted Most Inspirational Player in 2001-02... Received Most Improved Player honors in 2000-01... Tri-Most Outstanding Player in 2002-03 ... Saw action in 124 career games and helped UA win 99 of those (.798) ... Averaged 11.4 points, 7.0 rebounds and shot 51.1 percent from the floor over his last two seasons.

 

Richard Jefferson, Forward, 1998-2001

An ultra-athletic player whose defense was a key to the run to the 2001 Final Four ... Averaged 11.2 points and 5.0 rebounds per game in his 84-game UA career ... A starter in 77 career appearances ... Named to the NCAA all-Final Four team and the NCAA all-Midwest Regional team in 2000-01...A Pac-10 all-Freshman selection in 1998-99... Voted UA most improved player in 1998-99... Voted best defensive player in 2000-01... Arizona’s 12th first round NBA Draft pick and its sixth Lottery pick.

 

Michael Wright, Forward, 1998-2001

Earned All-America accolades in 2000 and 2001 ... A three-time all-Pac-10 pick ... Voted Pac-10 Freshman of the Year in 1998-99 ... Led the team in rebounding and field goal percentage in 2000 and 2001 ... Ranks 12th in career scoring with 1,497 points, fifth in field goal percentage (.575) and fifth in rebounding (832) ... Averaged 15.1 points and 8.4 rebounds for his career ... Never scored fewer than 400 points in his three seasons, including a career-high 561 in 2001... Started the final 94 games of his career and collected 34 double-doubles ... A second-round NBA Draft pick in 2001.

 

Luke Walton, Forward, 1999-2003

A five-time All-American and two-time all-Pac-10 honoree ... A member of UA’s 2001 Final Four team ... Named Most Outstanding Player of 2002 Pac-10 Tournament ... One of three players in Pac-10 history to tally 1,000 points, 500 rebounds and 500 assists in a career ... Ranks 22nd on the UA career scoring list with 1,179 points ... Also ranks fourth in assists (582), tied for eighth in games played (129), and ninth in steals (151) and minutes played (3,514)... A two-time team tri-captain that helped the Cats to a 107-29 (.787) record and two Pac-10 championships  in his career.

 

Loren Woods, Center, 1999-2001

Earned All-America and all-Pac-10 honors in 2000 and 2001... Earned a spot on the NCAA Tournament’s all-Final Four and all-Midwest Regional teams with his outstanding play after averaging 16.0 points, 7.7 rebounds and 4.0 blocks in the postseason ... Ranks second in career blocked shots with 186 while holding down the top two single-season marks in school history, including a school-record 104 blocks in 2000 ... Led the team in free throw shooting in 2000 and 2001 and led the team in scoring during the 1999-2000 campaign (15.6 ppg) ... A second-round pick in the 2001 NBA Draft.

 

Gilbert Arenas, Guard, 1999-2001

Ranks No. 27 on the career scoring list with 1,105 points, one of only six UA players to top 1,000 points in two seasons... Led the team in scoring with 581 points as a sophomore in 2000-01... Appeared in every game in 2000-01... Led the team in steals twice with 36 in 2000-01 and 35 in 1999-2000... Named All-American, all-NCAA Midwest Regional, NABC all-District 15 and team co-MVP in 2000-01... Received all-Pac-10 Conference honors twice... A Pac-10 all-Freshman pick in 1999-2000.

 

Jason Gardner, Guard, 1999-2003

Highest-scoring guard in Arizona history (1,984 points) ... Frances Pomeroy Naismith Player of the Year in 2003 ... Amassed 12 All-America accolades to go with three all-Pac-10 honors ... 2001 Final Four participant ... Two Pac-10 championships and a Pac-10 Tournament title to his credit ... The UA career leader in games played (136), games started (135), minutes played (4,825), average minutes per game (35.5), 3-point field goals (318, 2nd in Pac-10 history) and 3-point field goal attempts (875) ... One of only four players in Pac-10 history to amass over 1,500 points, 500 assists and 500 steals ... 2000 national Freshman of the Year ... UA was 107-29 (.787) during Gardner’s career.