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The best players in UCLA men’s basketball history

by TLD

No school has won more men’s basketball national championships than UCLA’s 11. All but one of those titles was guided by legendary coach John Wooden. Naturally, the Bruins were successful because of those players on the floor — some blossomed into legends of the game. Here’s our list, in chronological order, of the top players in UCLA basketball history.

 

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Don Barksdale, Forward (1942-43; 1946-47)

Los Angeles Sentinel

When it comes to historical significance, Barksdale was a true trailblazer. Though his time at UCLA was relatively short — and interrupted by a stint serving in World War II following the 1943 season — Barksdale is noted as the first African-American to earn consensus All-American honors. The 6-foot-6 Hall of Famer was also the first Black player to be part of the United States’ men’s Olympic basketball team.

 

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Walt Hazzard, Guard (1962-64)

Walt Hazzard, Guard (1962-64)

NCAA

 

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Gail Goodrich, Guard (1963-65)

Gail Goodrich, Guard (1963-65)

Bettmann/Contributor/Getty Images

Despite his lack of height (a generous 6-foot-1), Goodrich was another star of John Wooden’s early national championship teams at UCLA. Goodrich averaged 19 points and shot 47.6 percent during his Bruins career, and he teamed with Walt Hazzard to win the school’s first title in 1964. After Hazzard left, Goodrich averaged 24.8 per contest in 1964-65, and his 744 points during that campaign rank third in school history. In UCLA’s 91-80 victory over Michigan in that season’s national championship game, Goodrich dropped 42 on the Wolverines — a finals record at the time.

 

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Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Center (1965-69)

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Center (1965-69)

Bob Luckey/Newsday RM via Getty Images

While at UCLA, Jabbar was still known as Lew Alcindor. A legendary prep star from New York City, Kareem’s legacy grew while playing for John Wooden at UCLA. The 7-foot-1 superstar is one of four players to start on three UCLA national championship squads, and he remains the school record holder in single-season points (870 from 1966-67), single-game points (61 in 1966-67), and scoring average (26.4). The three-time national player of the year ranks second in school history for career points (2,325) and rebounds (1,367).

 

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Curtis Rowe, Forward (1969-71)

Curtis Rowe, Forward (1969-71)

YouTube

Rowe joins Kareem as one of those four players to start on three of UCLA’s national championship teams. In Rowe’s case, that came in 1969, ’70 and ’71. During those three seasons at UCLA, Rowe averaged 15.2 points while shooting 52.6 percent from the field and 8.8 rebounds over 90 games. A solid, strong presence at 6-foot-7, Rowe was a two-time All-Pac 8 performer and consensus second-team All-American.

 

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Sidney Wicks, Forward (1969-71)

Sidney Wicks, Forward (1969-71)

Rich Clarkson/NCAA Photos/Contributor/Getty Images

Wicks’ progression in three seasons of varsity play at UCLA was quite remarkable. In 1968-69, Wicks averaged just 7.5 points, but two seasons later, he was awarded multiple national player of the year honors while averaging 21.3 points and shooting 52.4 percent. The Most Outstanding Player of the 1970 Final Four, Wicks played on three of the Bruins’ national championship squads and ranks 10th in school history with 894 rebounds.

 

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Henry Bibby, Guard (1970-72)

Henry Bibby, Guard (1970-72)

Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images

Another Bruin to start on three of the school’s national title-winning teams, Bibby was one of the great point guards throughout college basketball in the decade of the 1970s. He averaged 14.4 career points and recorded at least 100 assists in each of his three seasons at UCLA. Bibby was a first-team All-American for the 1971-72 campaign, when he averaged career highs of 15.7 points and 3.5 assists. Bibby also enjoyed a long coaching career, notably spending time in charge of Los Angeles rival USC (1996-2005).

 

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Bill Walton, Center (1972-74)

Bill Walton, Center (1972-74)

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The free-spirited Walton was a character from the moment he stepped on to the UCLA campus. He was also one of the great players in college basketball history. Indebted to his legendary coach John Wooden, Walton was part of two Bruins national championship teams from 1972 and ’73, and he was named Final Four Most Outstanding Player in each tournament. Walton averaged 20.3 points — on 65.1-percent shooting — and 15.8 rebounds for his collegiate career. He was a three-time national player of the year, and his 1,370 rebounds are the most in school history.

 

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Jamaal Wilkes, Forward (1972-74)

Jamaal Wilkes, Forward (1972-74)

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Playing alongside Bill Walton, Wilkes was a two-time national champion (1972, ’73) and consensus All-American (1973, ’74). Wilkes earned the nickname “Silk” because he essentially made the game look easy with the ball in his hands. He averaged 15 points while shooting 51.4 percent and 7.4 rebounds during his three-season varsity career at UCLA. All of it set the stage for a successful NBA stint. 

 

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Dave Meyers, Forward (1973-75)

Dave Meyers, Forward (1973-75)

Bettmann/Contributor/Getty Images

It would be easy for Meyers to get lost in the shadows of great UCLA big men like Bill Walton or Jamaal Wilkes. Meyers played on two national championship teams at UCLA and solidified himself as the standout of the 1974-75 group after Walton and Wilkes were gone. That season, Meyers led the Bruins in scoring (18.3 points per game) and rebounding (7.9 per game) while earning first-team All-American honors. 

 

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Richard Washington, Forward (1974-76)

Richard Washington, Forward (1974-76)

UCLA Men’s Basketball

Like Dave Meyers, Washington was part of John Wooden’s final national championship squad at UCLA in 1975, which also happened to be the legendary coach’s last season at the school. That season, Washington averaged 15.9 points and 7.8 rebounds, and he was the Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four. A season later, Washington was scoring at a clip of 20.1 points per game and pulling down 8.6 rebounds en route to a consensus first-team All-American honor.

 

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Marques Johnson, Guard-Forward (1974-77)

Marques Johnson, Guard-Forward (1974-77)

Brian van der Brug/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Johnson was a highly touted recruit who starred at Los Angeles’ famed Crenshaw High School in the later days of the John Wooden era. He was part of that 1975 title-winning Bruins team. Two years later, he was tabbed national player of the year — that later became the John R. Wooden Award — for averaging 21.4 points and 11.1 rebounds. Johnson’s 897 career rebounds rank eighth in school history. 

 

13 of 20

David Greenwood, Forward (1976-79)

David Greenwood, Forward (1976-79)

uclabruins.com

While UCLA’s dominance in college basketball waned in the late 1970s, the program was obviously not void of individual talent. Greenwood was UCLA’s star in those later years, averaging at least 16.7 points in each of his final three seasons — highlighted by a career-high 19.9 in 1978-79. Greenwood was a two-time Pac-10 Player of the Year and consensus first-team All-American (1978, 1979). His 1,022 career rebounds are fourth-most in UCLA history.

 

Reggie Miller, Guard (1984-87)

Bernstein Associates/Getty Images

Of course, Miller is known for his stellar NBA career with the Indiana Pacers, but that foundation was definitely laid at UCLA. One of the most dynamic players in college basketball during the 1980s, Miller averaged 25.9 points as a junior and 22.3 during his senior season. Miller’s 2,095 points are tied for third all time, while his 750 from the 1985-86 campaign rank second in school history for a single season. He was a 54.7 percent shooter and recorded 158 steals — tied for ninth in UCLA history. Miller was a two-time first-team All-Pac-10 selection and had his No. 31 retired by the school.

 

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Jerome “Pooh” Richardson, Guard (1986-89)

Jerome "Pooh" Richardson, Guard (1986-89)

Bernstein Associates/Getty Images

A four-year starter for the Bruins, Richardson could do a little bit of everything during his time in Westwood. While Richardson averaged 12 career points (15.2 as a senior) and shot 51.3 percent, he was best known for his ability to distribute the basketball. “Pooh,” as he’s affectionately known, remains the school’s all-time leader with 833 assists and is responsible for three of the top seven assist seasons in UCLA history. Richardson was the Pac-10 Freshman of the Year in 1986 and a three-time first-team all-conference selection.

 

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Don MacLean, Forward (1989-92)

Don MacLean, Forward (1989-92)

Bernstein Associates/Getty Images

In the storied history of UCLA basketball, it’s MacLean who sits atop the school’s career scoring list with 2,608 points. The pride of nearby Simi Valley, MacLean averaged 20.5 points on 53.1-percent shooting while starting all 127 games he played at UCLA. He’s also the Pac-12’s all-time leading scorer. 

 

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Ed O’Bannon, Forward (1992-95)

Ed O'Bannon, Forward (1992-95)

J.D. Cuban/Staff/Getty Images Sport

UCLA reached the Final Four in 2021, but its most recent national championship came in 1995. O’Bannon helped the Bruins win that title as the best player in the country. A 15.5 average career scorer and 51.3 percent shooter put up 20.4 points and registered 8.3 boards in 1994-95. He also pulled down 7.0 rebounds per game in his four collegiate seasons. Not only was O’Bannon, now best known for championing the likeness rights of college athletes, not only was a first-team All-American in 1995, he was the Wooden Award winner, USBWA College Player of the Year and Final Four Most Outstanding Player.

 

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Jason Kapono, Forward (2000-03)

Jason Kapono, Forward (2000-03)

Jeff Gross/Getty Images

Right up there with the offensive greats in UCLA history is Kapono, who is tied for third on the school’s all-time scoring list with 2,095 points. Complete with his trademark headband, Kapono also ranks second in program history with 317 made 3-pointers and a 44.6 shooting percentage from beyond the arc. He was the first Bruin to be named first-team All-Pac-10 all four years in school, and the only one to lead the team in scoring four straight seasons.

 

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Arron Afflalo, Guard-Forward (2005-07)

Arron Afflalo, Guard-Forward (2005-07)

Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images

Afflalo is one of the most complete players in UCLA basketball history. While he certainly made a name for himself on the defensive end of the court, Afflalo averaged nearly 15 points and shot 45.7 percent for his three-year collegiate career. Afflalo, the Pac-10 Player of the Year when he averaged 16.9 points and shot 46.1 percent in 2006-07, sits tied for third in school history with 209 made 3-pointers.

 

Lonzo Ball, Guard (2016-17)

Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Ball spent just the one season at UCLA, but it remains one of the best in college basketball history. Regardless what fans think of his family situation, Ball averaged 14.6 points on 55.1 percent shooting from the field and 41.2 from 3-point range, plus 7.6 assists (single-season school-record 274) and 6.0 rebounds in 36 collegiate games in 2016-17. His 66 steals rank eighth all-time in program history. Ball was an unanimous first-team All-American by The Associated Press and only freshman finalist for the three major national player of the year awards: Wooden Award, Naismith, and Oscar Robertson Trophy. Ball currently stars for the Chicago Bulls,

Jeff Mezydlo has written about sports and entertainment online and for print for more than 25 years. He grew up in the far south suburbs of Chicago, 20 minutes from the Mascot Hall of Fame in Whiting, Ind. He’s also the proud father of 11-year-old Matthew, aka “Bobby Bruin,” mascot of St. Robert Bellarmine School in Chicago. You can follow Jeff at @jeffm401.



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