College basketball: Looking back at the NCAA careers of 2016 Basketball Hall of Fame inductees
Ten individuals, headlined by some of the NBA’s most iconic names from the 1990s to early 2000s in Shaquille O’Neal, Yao Ming and Allen Iverson, will be honored among the greats Friday as part of the 2016 Basketball Hall of Fame induction ceremony.
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Here’s a look back at the college careers of some of the 2016 Hall of Famers:
Shaquille O’Neal – LSU (1989-92)
Shaq has always had a larger-than-life personality to go along with his towering 7-foot-1 physical presence. This first became apparent in his three years playing for the Tigers.
O’Neal was a two-time All American, the 1991 AP Player of the Year recipient and led LSU to three NCAA tournament appearances. He did this while dominating in the post with 21.6 points and 13.5 rebounds per game over his three seasons in purple and gold.
It didn’t take a look at the numbers to see how dominant O’Neal truly was though. Whether it was a powerful dunk or emphatic block, O’Neal was the most-physically gifted talent in the NCAA at the time and he translated that into a historic NBA career.
O’Neal was drafted first overall by the Orlando Magic in 1992 and finished with four NBA titles and three Finals MVPs while playing for six different teams.
In a modern era where smaller, more athletic big men are taking over at the collegiate and professional levels, O’Neal’s legacy as one of the best true centers will never be forgotten.
Allen Iverson – Georgetown (1994-96)
Before there was Steph Curry and Kyrie Irving breaking defenders’ ankles, there was Allen Iverson with arguably the nastiest crossover ability ever seen in the game. That started while playing for the Hoyas during the golden age of Big East basketball.
The explosive guard average 23 points, 4.6 assists and 3.2 steals per game in two seasons and was an All American in 1996. Iverson led the Hoyas to three wins in two appearances in the NCAA tournament.
But perhaps Iverson will be most remembered for his part in the clashes of 1990s Big East titans in Georgetown, Syracuse and UConn.
Albeit in a Hoyas loss, Iverson squared off with Huskies star Ray Allen pound for pound in the 1996 Big East championship game that UConn came back to win with under two seconds left behind a 12-0 run.
Like O’Neal, Iverson also went on to become the first overall pick by the Philadelphia 76ers. His mixture of lightning-quick speed, marvelous ball handling skills and mouth-dropping dunking ability for his 6-foot build made him one of the game’s most exciting fixtures.
Tom Izzo – Michigan State (1995-current)
One of the most successful college basketball coaches in the game will be inducted Friday in Izzo, who joined the Spartans staff as an assistant in 1983 and never left since his promotion in 1995.
Izzo has 524 wins to date, placing him in a tie for 52nd on the all-time men’s college basketball list and a tie for 15th among current coaches. He delivered the Spartans their second all-time NCAA tournament title in 2000 and has led Michigan State to seven Final Four appearances.
Under Izzo’s watch, the Spartans have been a measure of consistency in college basketball, reaching the tournament in 19 consecutive seasons to date while capturing the Big Ten title on five occasions.
Izzo has also prepared his players nicely for the jump to professional play, producing 10 first round picks since taking the job in 1995.
Izzo, an Iron Mountain, Michigan native, is a fixture at Michigan State and there’s no reason to believe the coach won’t continue to climb the all-time wins list.
Sheryl Swoopes – South Plains (1989-91), Texas Tech (1991-93)
Swoopes stands as one of the most decorated professional women’s basketball players in the sport’s history, as a four-time WNBA champion, three-time MVP, six-time All Star and three-time Olympic gold medalist for Team USA.
These prestigious routes started in college, where she was a key part of Texas Tech’s 1993 NCAA championship team.
Swoopes played her first two years of college at South Plains, a smaller college in her home state of Texas. She then transferred to Texas Tech before her junior year and embraced the bigger stage as one of the most dominant players at the time.
Swoopes owns the best scoring mark (25 points per game) in program history and was named Player of the Year in her senior championship season. She is also one of only three Lady Red Raiders to have her number retired by the program.