Isiah Thomas (1979-1981)
Isiah Lord Thomas III, named one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History and owner of the coolest middle name in recent history, got his basketball start at IU as the floor general for the Hoosiers. Coach Bob Knight gave Thomas the nickname “Pee Wee” for his short stature but the guard played big when it mattered most, as he was a crucial member of the 1981 National Champions.
Victor Oladipo (2010-2013)
Perhaps it’s recency bias but Oladipo is, for my money, the best IU shooting guard of all time. It’s kind of stunning to watch some of the in-game dunks Oladipo has slammed down. I can’t even replicate those on a Little Tikes Easy Score Basketball Hoop. Along with the flash, Oladipo’s defensive prowess assisted him to eventually win the Adolph Rupp Trophy for the top player in men’s Division I NCAA basketball. Even though Oladipo never won a championship for the Hoosiers and cost me my NCAA Tournament Bracket in 2013, he will always be a beloved Hoosier.
Scott May (1972-1976)
Out of Sandusky, Ohio, May played for IU Coach Bob Knight. He amassed several awards in his final year at IU including first-team All-American, Sporting News College Player of the Year, AP College Player of the Year and, most importantly, 1976 NCAA Champion. In his last two years with the program, IU went undefeated in the regular season and won 37-consecutive Big Ten games.
Alan Henderson (1991-1995)
Currently, the only IU player to rank in the school’s top five in scoring, rebounding, blocked shots and steals, Henderson was a whirlwind on the court and right into the hearts of Hoosier nation. His 23.5 points per game scoring average in the 1995 season is the highest single-season scoring average for any IU player under Coach Knight. Henderson graduated from IU with a degree in biology, but it was his chemistry on the court that will be remembered for years to come.
Walt Bellamy (1958-1961)
Averaging 20.6 points and 15.5 rebounds per game, roughly my statistics when I play at the HPER, Bellamy is arguably the best Hoosier big man of all time. Bellamy left IU on a bright spot in his last collegiate game as he scored 33 points and grabbed 28 rebounds, the latter of which is still a Big Ten record. Bellamy will forever be known as the first Hoosier ever taken No. 1 in the NBA draft and the first Hoosier named NBA Rookie of the Year.
Steve Alford (1983-1987)
As a freshman, Alford was integral in leading the Hoosiers against the UNC Tar Heels in the NCAA Tournament, which was spearheaded by no-name Michael Jordan. He continued to grow as a player with the tutelage of Coach Knight. “Steve was incredibly mature as a freshman. He was getting thrown out of practice then,” said Dan Dakich, Alford’s former teammate, in an interview with Sports Illustrated.
Calbert Cheaney (1989-1993)
If you’re ever on “Jeopardy” in the future, it might behoove you to know that Cheaney was Coach Knight’s first left-handed player and left IU with many accomplishments. He is the only IU freshman ever to score 20 points in the season opener of his freshman year, and his teams spent all but two weeks, out of 53, in the top 10 of the NCAA basketball polls. Cheaney scored 30 or more points 13 times as a Hoosier and at the end of his collegiate year, he won virtually every post-season honor available.
Tim Priller (2014-Current)
A favorite amongst fans and Twitter trending topics, Priller has become a staple for the IU basketball team in the last few years. With the monikers Uncle Tim, Priller Time, Vanilla Prilla and Shaggy (alluding to “Scooby-Doo”), Priller is a knockdown three-point shooter and welcome addition to the “best Hoosiers of all time” list. Perhaps after his collegiate basketball days have ended he will be another Hoosier with a National Championship.